Planning a pregnancy is an exciting time. I’m sure you’re thinking of all the things that will change in your life, what this new family member might be like, talking about names and planning a nursery.
Having time to pre-plan your pregnancy is also a great opportunity to ensure you are in the best possible position physically and emotionally to have a healthy and rewarding experience during your pregnancy.
- Visit Your GP
When you’re starting to think about planning a pregnancy, I always recommend a visit to your GP for a general health check-up and to discuss any considerations that are specific to you.
- Get a Blood Test
During your appointment with your GP, remember to ask for a blood test. This will be a useful record when you do become pregnant and should be used to confirm your blood group and other checks such as liver and kidney function. Iron levels, vitamin D and immunity to rubella and chicken pox are also important things to check.
This is a good time to check you are up to date with any necessary vaccinations, including whooping cough and the Covid-19 vaccine. Ask your GP what vaccinations you need and if you’re up to date. It is also important to ensure your partner is up to date too.
- Existing Health Conditions
If you have any underlying health conditions such as high/low blood pressure, diabetes, auto-immune disease, depression or anxiety, it is a good idea to discuss any steps that you might take to manage these now to put you in the best possible position during your pregnancy.
- Genetic Screening
A range of optional genetic screening tests are available. These tests can be arranged by your GP and ideally, they should be completed before conceiving. The purpose is to identify recessive genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis, Fragile X syndrome and spinal muscular atrophy. If you become aware that you or your partner are a carrier, you then have the option of genetic counselling to discuss the implications of your results with an expert.
- Your BMI
Being within a healthy weight range is optimal for a safe and healthy pregnancy and for the health of mum and baby after the birth. It can also impact on your ability to become pregnant. Being overweight during pregnancy increases your risk of conditions such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Whilst being underweight can increase your chances of premature birth and low birth weight. Now is a good time to speak to your doctor about a healthy weight for you and get support to work towards a healthy weight range.
- Discuss with Your Partner
This is a great time to have an open conversation with your partner so you can both share what your expectations and hopes are for having a family. It is helpful to discuss things like who will take maternity/paternity leave and when. You can also share any concerns or worries you may have so you can better support each other in the months and years ahead!
- Visit Your Dentist
There is an increased risk of periodontitis during pregnancy so it’s a great idea to ensure your teeth and gums are in good health beforehand. Your dentist can also create a care plan so that any significant treatment you might need can be carried out before you become pregnant. Regular brushing, flossing and routine dental checks should be on your to do list during pregnancy.
- Cervical Screening Test
A cervical screening test (previously known as pap smear) is one of the most effective ways to detect pre-cancerous changes of the cervix and cervical cancer. Both the Department of Health in Australia and the Cancer Council of Australia recommend women 25 years and older should be screened every 5 years. If you haven’t had a test in the last 5 years or your test is likely to lapse during pregnancy, it’s time to tick that important job off your list.
- Specialist Dietary Advice
If you have any specific dietary requirements, for example you are vegan or vegetarian, or diet related issues such as allergies, coeliac disease, anemia, or other mineral deficiencies, you should consider talking to your GP or a dietician about an optimisation plan and any considerations for pregnancy.
For more advice on planning a pregnancy, you can download a complimentary copy of my ‘Preparing for Pregnancy Checklist’, visit www.drkierenwilson.com.au
Introducing Dr Kieren Wilson
Dr Wilson is passionate about providing an exceptional level of tailored advice and care to women to meet their pregnancy or gynaecological health needs. He is dedicated to offering the best possible level of care to women in his private obstetrics and gynaecology practice.
When it comes to planning and managing your pregnancy, his areas of expertise include:
- Pre-conception counselling
- Optimisation of underlying health prior to pregnancy
- Pregnancy planning
- Infertility support services
- Both high and low risk pregnancies
- Pregnancy and birth after previous caesarean section
- Managing medical conditions during pregnancy such as diabetes or high blood pressure
Any information, advice, content or materials provided in this article do not constitute medical, fertility or conception, psychological, childbirth, pre-natal or post-natal education or other professional advice, and are provided for general information and guidance purposes only. Dr Kieren Wilson will not be liable for any expenses, losses, damages (including indirect or consequential damages) or costs which might be incurred as a result of your reliance on this information, advice, content or materials. Further, Dr Kieren Wilson does not make any representations or give any warranties about their accuracy, reliability, completeness or suitability for any particular purpose.
Dr Kieren Wilson will not be liable for any claims arising out of or in connection with provision of this information and any techniques employed in pregnancy, conception and pre-natal preparation. This release includes but is not limited to any claim for personal injury, damages and death of any individual which has received information from Dr Kieren Wilson.