You and bae are thinking about having a baby…so now what?
You already know the biggies: track your ovulation, take a folic acid supplement and cut back on the wine.
But beyond that, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) also recommends women schedule a pre-pregnancy planning session with their obstetric-gynaecologist, says Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, a board-certified obstetric-gynaecologist and a clinical professor at Yale University School of Medicine.
That planning sesh can help you and your S.O. suss out whether you need to be mindful of passing on any genetic disorders, and confirm you’re both healthy and ready to start making babies.
Here’s what your doc might want you to consider before trying to conceive:
Blood tests for genetic disorders
PSA: You might be a carrier of a genetic disease without even knowing it.
That’s why docs often recommend blood tests for genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis (where thick mucus damages the body’s organs), Tay-Sachs disease (a condition that destroys nerve cells in the body), or sickle trait (a gene linked to sickle cell disease, a group of blood disorders), explains Dr. Sheri Lawson, the division director of general obstetrics and gynaecology at Johns Hopkins Medicine.
“If you turn out to be a carrier of a certain trait, it will be helpful to check your partner as well,” says Minkin. “The reason being is that if you are a carrier of a recessive gene, and your partner is as well, there is a possibility that the foetus could get two of the recessive genes, and end up with that particular problem.”
If both you and your partner turn out to be carriers, you might elect to do in vitro so that testing can be done on the embryo, says Lawson.
A glucose test
Patients with poorly-controlled diabetes have an increased risk of excessive foetal growth during pregnancy as well as having a baby with very low blood sugar after birth; these women are also at an increased risk for both stillbirths and C-section, says Lawson.
That’s why, if you’re significantly overweight—or think you could have diabetes—it’s important to consider a glucose test before conceiving. “A hemoglobin A1C will check your blood sugar levels over a three-month period, and see if there is any abnormality,” says Minkin.
A thyroid function test
If you suffer from hypothyroidism and your body doesn’t have enough of the thyroid hormone it needs for normal foetus development, the foetus can suffer from growth restriction, notes Lawson.
Biopsies during pregnancy can cause people to cramp and bleed more than when they’re not pregnant.
On the flip side, if you have antibodies over-stimulating your thyroid gland, those can cross the placenta, leading the foetus to develop a large thyroid, she notes.
Thyroid issues can be ID’d through a simple blood test.
A pap smear
With current recommendations, you should be doing paps every two to three years—and so long as you are up to date, you don’t necessarily need another pre-pregnancy. If it’s been longer than that? A pap would be a good idea, says Minkin.
That’s because if you do have any abnormalities—or potentially even need any biopsy procedures—docs will want to do them before you get pregnant, says Lawson. Because of increased blood flow to the area during pregnancy, biopsies during pregnancy can cause people to cramp and bleed more than when they’re not pregnant, she notes.
A STI test
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends women 25 and under are screened for chlamydia annually—in part, that’s because if you get it, it can cause scarring in the Fallopian tubes making it difficult to get pregnant later, says Lawson.
If you’re at an increased risk for HIV, hepatitis B or C, or syphilis, blood tests for those would be good ideas, too. Both HIV and hepatitis B and C can be transmitted to the baby; and syphilis can cause abnormalities, says Lawson.
A Medication Cross-Check“It’s always a good idea to meet with your prospective obstetrician to make sure that all the medications that you are taking are okay for pregnancy,” says Minkin.
A few classic examples: women who have a history of epilepsy, and take certain medications; women who have high blood pressure; and ladies suffering from depression should all have a doctor analyze their meds. “There are certain medications that are preferable to others—and you want to make sure you are on the right ones,” Minkin says.
This article was originally published on Women's Health.