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As soon as you start thinking about trying to get pregnant, you'll want to see your ob-gyn or midwife for a preconception visit. Your caregiver will start by asking you some questions. She'll use the information you give her to help you become physically and emotionally ready for pregnancy. (See what to expect at your preconception checkup for a description of what else will happen at this appointment.)
Here's a list of the questions your practitioner will ask. If you've seen her before, she may already have much of this information and will only need to fill in what's missing.
- How old are you?
- How old is your partner?
- Do you have regular periods?
- At what age did they start?
- How long do they last?
- When did your last period begin?
- What kind of birth control are you using now, and what kinds have you used in the past?
- Have you ever had an abnormal Pap smear?
- Have you or your partner ever been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, human papillomavirus (HPV), or herpes?
- Have you ever been diagnosed with pelvic inflammatory disease?
- Have you ever been tested for HIV?
- Are you in a monogamous relationship?
- Have you ever been told you have uterine abnormalities?
- If you were born before 1972, or if your mother was living in another country when she was pregnant with you, do you know if your mother took DES (a drug that could cause birth defects) when she was pregnant with you?
- Have you ever had any kind of gynecological surgery?
- Have you ever been treated for infertility?
- Have you ever had – or do you have – any gynecological problems not listed above?
Note: If you've had complications during a pregnancy, labor, or delivery that your practitioner is unaware of, try to get hold of the related medical records and bring them with you to your checkup. (But don't delay your preconception visit waiting for them, particularly if you're going to start trying to conceive soon.)
- Have you ever been pregnant before?
- Have you ever had a miscarriage? If so, how many weeks pregnant were you? Did you have a D&C? Were there complications? Do you know the cause of the miscarriage?
- Have you ever had an abortion? If so, in which trimester? Were there any complications?
- Have you ever had an ectopic pregnancy? If so, how many weeks pregnant were you? Did you have surgery?
- For each child you've given birth to: What was the birth date? Place of birth? How many weeks gestation? Gender? Birth weight? Was it a normal vaginal delivery, an assisted vaginal delivery, or a cesarean section?
- Have you ever had pregnancy complications, such as gestational diabetes, preterm labor or delivery, preeclampsia, intrauterine growth restriction, or placental problems?
- Did you suffer from depression during pregnancy or postpartum depression?
- Did you have any complications during labor and delivery?
- Did you have any postpartum complications, such as a postpartum hemorrhage?
- Have you ever had any serious medical problems?
- In particular, do you have diabetes, hypertension, epilepsy or another seizure disorder, kidney disease, hepatitis or other liver disease, heart disease, a blood clotting disorder, lung disease, including asthma, thyroid disease, cancer, or a connective tissue disease such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis?
- Do you have any digestive problems?
- Have you ever been hospitalized?
- Have you ever had any operations? When and why? Have you ever had problems with anesthesia?
- Have you ever had a blood transfusion?
- Are you being treated for any conditions right now?
- Have you been exposed to any infectious diseases recently? Is there anyone in your household who has or has had hepatitis? Tuberculosis?
- Has anyone in your family ever had diabetes, hypertension, a stroke, epilepsy or another seizure disorder, kidney disease, hepatitis or other liver disease, heart disease, a clotting disorder, lung disease including asthma, thyroid disease, cancer, or a connective tissue disease such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis?
Medications and allergies
- What prescription or over-the-counter medications are you taking (including any herbs, vitamins, or supplements) and at what dose? (Look at each bottle of medication you take, write this information down, and bring the information with you to the visit.)
- Are you taking 400 mg of folic acid per day? Alone or in a multivitamin?
- Are you allergic to any drugs? To latex? Any other allergies?
Note: If you have a record of your immunizations or lab work documenting immunity, bring it with you to your appointment.
- Have you ever had chicken pox or been vaccinated against it?
- Did you complete your childhood vaccinations for measles, mumps, and rubella? Have you ever been tested for rubella immunity?
- Have you ever been vaccinated against hepatitis B? Or human papillomavirus (HPV)?
- When was your last tetanus booster? Did you receive the Tdap vaccine?
- Have you had a flu shot this season?
- Are you planning a trip out of the country that might require other vaccines?
Emotional and social history
- Have you ever suffered from mental or emotional problems, including depression or an eating disorder?
- Have you ever been a victim of domestic violence? In your current relationship, do you ever feel threatened or are you physically or verbally abused? Have you ever been kicked, hit, or slapped? Have you ever been forced to have sex against your will?
- Do you smoke or use tobacco products, or are you exposed to secondhand smoke?
- Do you drink alcohol? How much and how often?
- Do you use recreational drugs?
- Do you drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages? How much per day?
- Do you see a dentist regularly?
- Do you exercise regularly?
- Do you have trouble maintaining a healthy weight?
- Do you follow any particular kind of diet or have any dietary restrictions?
- Do you eat fish? What kind and how much?
- Do you ever eat raw or undercooked meat, fish, or eggs?
- Do you have pets or do any gardening?
- Do you regularly use hot tubs or saunas?
- What do you do for a living? Do you work with small children? Do you or your partner live or work near any possible hazards, such as paints or solvents, pesticides, radiation (X-rays), lead, or mercury? Do you or your partner have any hobbies (such as ceramics) that might expose you to toxic substances?
Have you met with a genetic counselor or had carrier screening for inherited genetic disorders? This may be the most important thing you can do to ensure a healthy baby.
Also, has anyone in your family or your partner's family (including your children or children from a previous relationship) ever had:
- Structural birth defects, such as spina bifida (or other neural tube defects), heart, or kidney defects?
- Down syndrome or other chromosomal abnormalities?
- An intellectual disability from other (or unknown) causes, developmental delays, or autism? Was testing for fragile X syndrome done?
- Multiple miscarriages or stillbirth?
Finally, if there is anything else that you think is important that wasn't asked, by all means bring it up.
Your preconception checkup is an important thing to do before getting pregnant. Check out some other things you should do before you try to get pregnant.