What should my health care provider be doing about preconception care at my regular visits?

Health care providers have a lot to cover during an appointment, so it’s always a good idea to make a list and bring up any issues on your mind. Do this even if the health care provider doesn’t ask about them. The first thing to discuss is your plan for pregnancy. If you tell your provider that you might become pregnant in the near future, there will be a number of things to discuss. You may need to schedule another visit to make sure everything gets covered.

Your health care provider should:

  • Review your family’s medical history. This includes your previous experiences with pregnancy, fertility, birth, and use of birth control methods.
  • Ask about your lifestyle, behaviors, and social support concerns that affect your health. Do you smoke, drink alcohol, use drugs, or have psychological problems, including depression? Do you have nutrition and diet issues? Concerns about health conditions in your or your partner’s family? Are there issues around intimate partner domestic violence? What are the medications you are taking?  Are there chemicals, solvents, radiation, or other potential risks at your workplace or home that could harm you or your baby?
  • Schedule health screening tests – Pap smear, urinalysis, blood tests. Your provider needs to know your blood type, Rh factor, and whether you have diabetes, hypertension, sexually transmitted infections, or other conditions.
  • Review your immunization status and update them if needed.
  • Your doctor will perform a physical exam, including a pelvic exam and a blood pressure check.
  • Based on your individual health, your health care provider will suggest a course of treatment or follow up care as needed.