Why You Should See A Doctor Before Trying To Have A Baby
Thinking of having a baby? Checking in with your doctor even before you get pregnant can ensure a healthy start for your future baby.
May 18, 2018
When should you start thinking about the health of your baby? Ideally, before you even get pregnant. About three months before trying to conceive, Id suggest going for a preconception check-up , says Batya Grundland, maternity care lead at Womens College Hospitals Family Practice Health Centre. Though its not mandatory, this appointment is a great first step toward optimal health for you and your baby. Heres what your doctor will do during this visit.
Q: Will All My Future Pregnancies Be High Risk
A:Having one high-risk pregnancy does not mean that all your futurepregnancies will be deemed high risk as well. You may have a fetalcomplication occur in one pregnancy that wouldnt in another, and certainhealth conditions may change over time.
However, if you have had a pregnancy that ended in preterm delivery, youare at greater risk of having preterm labor during your next pregnancy. Ifthis occurs, your obstetric provider will manage your pregnancy usingmedication, and a maternal-fetal medicine specialist will monitor yourcervical length with ultrasound surveillance.
Ultimately, the most important thing to remember about having a high-riskpregnancy is that your maternal-fetal medicine specialist and Ob/Gyn havethe knowledge and experience required to keep you and your baby as healthyas possible.
How Often Should I See My Doctor During Pregnancy
Your doctor will give you a schedule of all the doctors visits you should have while pregnant. As your pregnancy progresses, youll see the doctor more often. Most experts suggest you see your doctor:
- about once each month for the first six months of pregnancy
- every two weeks for the seventh and eight month of pregnancy
- every week until the baby is born
If you are over 35 or your pregnancy is high risk because of health problems , youll probably see your doctor more often.
Seek immediate medical attention if your condition is urgent.
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What Should I Do While I Wait For My Gp Appointment
Carry on as normal! And, if youre not taking folic-acid supplements, nows the time to start.
Youll probably find yourself paying closer attention to your lifestyle and diet. Youll also find there are lots of people giving you advice about what you can and cant do and often theyll tell you different things!
So, weve made it clearer with lots of Whats Safe info thats regularly updated with the very latest research:
What If Your Family Doctor Isnt Available
Some doctors, particularly those who are in high demand or who are only working part-time, can be booked out up to one week in advance. If your family doctor isnt available immediately and you dont want to wait, consider making an appointment with another local doctor. He or she will be able to confirm your positive pregnancy test and help to answer any initial questions or concerns that you may have.
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How Do You Find A Fertility Doctor
Before locating a fertility specialist who can address your particular needs, you may need to do some groundwork. Here are a few ways to get started:
- Ask your primary-care physician, ob-gyn, or urologist for a recommendation.
- Check with your local medical society for names of specialists in your area.
- Contact the directors of private fertility clinics as well as those at nearby medical schools or hospitals.
- Ask a friend for a recommendation .
- Look in the phone book for doctors who limit their practice to fertility services.
- Contact the American Society for Reproductive Medicine or RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association for referrals to specialists in your area.
What To Expect At Your First Prenatal Appointment
You just took a pregnancy test and its positive. Now what? Heres the lowdown on everything you need to know to prepare for your first prenatal visit.
The moment you pee on that stick and get a positive pregnancy test result, your whole world changes. Youre probably feeling excited, anxious and even a little bewildered by what to do next. What sorts of tests do you need? What vitamins do you have to take?When will you get to hear your babys heartbeat or see that first ultrasound? Well, slow down. The first step is to book time to see a medical professional. Here are some of your options and what to expect at your first prenatal appointment.
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How Often Will You Have Follow
The standard of care during pregnancy is the same for all healthcare providers. From the beginning of pregnancy until 28 weeks, youll have an appointment every four weeks. Starting at 28 weeks, youll see your healthcare provider every two weeks and then, at 36 weeks, youll check in weekly until your baby is born.
Youll Have A Physical Exam At Your Prenatal Appointment
Your midwife or doctor will measure your progress in pregnancy by gathering baseline information, such as your pre-pregnancy weight, current weight, height and blood pressure. A full physical may not happen at your first prenatal visit due to time constraints, but during the first few appointments, youll have a head-to-toe physical, where theyll check your head, neck, thyroid, heart, lungs, skin and breasts and do a Pap test if you are due for one.
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Lungs Heart Breasts And Abdomen
Your doctor will listen to your heart and lungs with a stethoscope. They may suggest additional tests, such as an electrocardiogram or chest X-ray, if any abnormalities in breathing or heart rate are detected.
Your breasts will be examined for the presence of lumps. If a lump is found, your doctor may perform an ultrasound, mammography, or biopsy.
During an examination of the abdomen, your doctor will gently press on your liver and spleen to determine whether they are of normal size. An enlarged organ can be a sign of a serious medical condition.
What If You Have A High Risk For Certain Genetic Diseases
Genetic counseling can be beneficial if you are at risk for certain genetic disease. This type of counseling involves taking an extensive medical history and assessing the health of you, your partner, and your respective families.
After this information has been evaluated, you may receive counseling regarding certain genetic risks. Your counselor may recommend that you, your partner, or certain family members undergo blood testing for inheritable diseases.
The first prenatal physical examination is comprehensive so your doctor can evaluate any abnormalities that may be present in various parts of the body.
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What Else Should I Know
For your baby’s sake and yours, it’s important to take especially good care of yourself during your pregnancy. Follow these basics:
- Eat a healthy diet.
Over-the-counter medicines are generally considered off-limits because of their potential effects on the fetus. Most doctors recommend not taking any OTC medicines if possible, but might offer a list of those they think are safe. Be sure to discuss any questions about medicines with your doctor.
When you’re pregnant, it’s also important to avoid foodborne illnesses, such as listeriosis and toxoplasmosis, which can be life-threatening to an unborn baby and may cause birth defects or miscarriage. Foods to steer clear of include:
- soft, unpasteurized cheeses such as feta, goat, Brie, Camembert, and blue cheese
- unpasteurized milk, juices, and apple cider
- raw eggs or foods containing raw eggs, including mousse and tiramisu
- raw or undercooked meats, fish, or shellfish
- processed meats such as hot dogs and deli meats
Also avoid eating shark, swordfish, king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, tuna steak ,and tilefish. Fish and shellfish can be an extremely healthy part of your pregnancy diet because they contain beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and are high in protein and low in saturated fat. But these types of fish may contain high levels of mercury, which can damage the developing brain of a fetus.
Physical Changes of Pregnancy
Pregnancy can cause a number of uncomfortable changes, including:
What Happens At The First Prenatal Exam
The first prenatal exam is when your obstetrician or primary care physician will be able to provide a pregnancy test to confirm your pregnancy. However, you may also have a full check-up exam along with other tests such as:
- Bloodwork panels to identify your blood type and your Rhesus factor, and check to see if you are anemic or have any immunity diseases like chickenpox.
- Urine test to check your levels of glucose, protein, and white blood cells.
- Screenings to see if you are a carrier of genetic conditions like Tay-Sachs disease and cystic fibrosis, to name a few.
- STD screening
- Pap smear
If you live in Broward or Dade county and do not currently have a primary care physician or an obstetrician but you think you should go to a doctor for pregnancy care, you can schedule an appointment with Dr. Lona Sasser Obstetrics & Gynecology today.
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But What If I Have Pain Or Bleeding
If you have pelvic pain or vaginal bleeding at any time during your pregnancy, call your clinic immediately. It doesnt always indicate a problem with your pregnancy, but it is important that we see you quickly. Visit your nearest emergency room if the clinic is closed. Its hard not to panic in these situations, but try to stay as stress-free as possible for you and your babys overall health.
You’re Under 35 And Healthy
Wait a year. Believe it or not, it can take a normal young couple up to 12 months to get pregnant. “We usually recommend patients in their 20s and early 30s try to conceive or at least not use birth control for 12 months ,” says Dr. William Schoolcraft, founder and medical director of the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine. Conception is a delicate dance of sperm and egg, so it’s not a guarantee even if you’re timing things right.
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Lab Tests And Ultrasounds
A few weeks before your due date, your provider will perform the test that checks for group B strep infection on the perineum. There are no other routine lab tests or ultrasounds for every pregnant woman in the third trimester. Certain lab tests and tests to monitor the baby may be done for women who:
- Have a high-risk pregnancy, such as when the baby is not growing
- Have a health problem, such as diabetes or high blood pressure
- Have had problems in a prior pregnancy
- Are overdue
Twin Pregnancy: Special Concerns
Many women deliver healthy twins, but a multiple birth needs extra attention and care. Your doctor will focus on some key areas during your prenatal visits:
Proper nutrition and weight gain. Given that youre carrying two little ones, you’ll need to gain more weight than a woman carrying a single baby. A normal amount of weight gain for a woman carrying twins is between 35 to 45 pounds. Your doctor will talk with you about exactly how much weight you should gain, what types of foods you should eat, and what supplements to take.
Preterm labor. Preterm labor, or labor that starts before the end of the 37th week, is the biggest health concern for twin pregnancies. Premature babies have a higher risk for health problems than babies that go full term. About half of all twins are born preterm. Your doctor will review signs of preterm labor with you and watch carefully during your prenatal visits for any signs of preterm labor.
Your health risks. A twin pregnancy raises your risk for high blood pressure, anemia, gestational diabetes, and needing a C-section compared with someone carrying a single child. Your doctor will monitor you for these conditions during your prenatal visits.
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Headaches During Pregnancy Are Common But There Are Certain Types Of Head Pain You Should See A Doctor For
- People who are pregnant are more prone to headaches due to a number of factors.
- Hormone fluctuations and a higher risk of dehydration are some factors for pregnancy headaches.
- To get rid of a pregnancy headache, try a warm compress or OTC medication like Tylenol.
Headaches are extremely common in everyone, but especially in those who are pregnant.
That’s because pregnant people can have additional risk factors for headaches, including increased sinus congestion, interrupted sleep, and dehydration, says Matthew Fore, MD, an OB-GYN with Providence St. Joseph Hospital.
Most of the time, pregnancy headaches are harmless. However, a headache that comes on suddenly, particularly in the second half of pregnancy, could be a sign of preeclampsia, a dangerous condition that requires immediate medical aid, says David Columbo, MD, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist with Spectrum Health.
Here’s what you should know about pregnancy headaches and how to get relief.
When To Call The Doctor
- You have any signs or symptoms that are not normal.
- You are thinking of taking any new medicines, vitamins, or herbs.
- You have any bleeding.
- You have increased vaginal discharge with odor.
- You have a fever, chills, or pain when passing urine.
- You have headaches.
- You have changes or blind spots in your eyesight.
- Your water breaks.
- You start having regular, painful contractions.
- You notice a decrease in fetal movement.
- You have significant swelling and weight gain.
- You have chest pain or difficulty breathing.
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Where Can I Go For A Prenatal Care Visit
Make an appointment with a doctor, midwife, or nurse for your care during pregnancy. Some people just go to their regular family doctor or obstetrician. Others choose to see a midwife or nurse practitioner who specializes in prenatal care. You can also get prenatal care at some Planned Parenthood health centers.
Bring Your Partner To Your Prenatal Visit
If you have a partner, ask them to join you for that first prenatal appointment. Its a lot to take in on one visit, says Susan Thorne, department chief of obstetrics and gynaecology and medical director of the Maternal Newborn Program at Queensway Carleton Hospital in Ottawa. Make note of your concerns and be prepared to jot down any relevant informationat your first appointment or keep a running list of questions on your phone.
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Doctors Can Prescribe Medicine Even If You Havent Been To Your First Appointment Yet
If you have yet to go to your first appointment because its scheduled six weeks out, that doesnt mean youre out of luck if you need medical care. Doctors can still prescribe medicine.
If you have concerns, they might move your appointment up to make sure that youre okay, and then prescribe medication as needed.
For example, if your morning sickness is so severe that you havent eaten in days, your doctor can call in something for that.
Your First Antenatal Visit
Your first antenatal care appointment is an important one. During your visit, your GP or midwife will confirm your pregnancy, assess your health and give you some information that you will need in the months ahead. You will also be able to discuss who you choose to provide your ongoing pregnancy care
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You Have A Positive Pregnancy Test Now What
As soon as you know youre pregnant, call your doctor and schedule in your first prenatal appointment.
Most women like to make an appointment fairly soon after they find out theyre pregnant. If this is your first pregnancy, its likely youll want to see a doctor straight away.
Most doctors recommend that, as soon as youre ready, booking in to see a GP should be one of the first steps you take when you find out youre pregnant. You can make an appointment online right now by finding your preferred practice here.
If, like most other women, you have a long list of questions you want answered immediately, dont hesitate to phone the practice. The staff will be happy to talk through any concerns that you may have about your pregnancy before your appointment.
Come To Your Prenatal Visit Prepared
If youre searching when should I go to a doctor for pregnancy, youre likely looking for information and support beyond a one-word answer.
Heres our advice: write down a list of all your questions and concerns you want to ask your doctor. Its easy to feel overwhelmed once you are at your appointment. If you have your questions prepared ahead of time, youll be able to address all of your concerns and not miss anything. Your doctor is there to support and guide you, so take advantage of that and ask away!
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Make Sensible Lifestyle Changes
You should be eating a protein-rich, high fibre diet, drinking plenty of water and getting lots of rest. If youre underweight or overweight, start a healthy eating plan or see a dietician to plan the best diet for you and your pregnancy.
Alcohol is to be avoided, as the unseen effects of even small amounts is impossible to determine, says Dr Zinn. Also, coffee should be limited to two cups a day. You will also need to quit smoking and taking any drugs immediately. If youre a couch potato, you need to get moving.
Speak to your healthcare provider about how much and what kind of exercise you should do. If you are unable to speak to anyone, then walking is perfectly safe for all stages of pregnancy.
If youre already a gym bunny, exercise is good but not in competition with the energy demands of early pregnancy, so reduce the duration and intensity to about 75 percent, says Dr Zinn. You should also avoid competing or extreme sports.
If travel to a malaria area is on the cards, then it is best to cancel your plans. If you live in a malaria area, speak to your doctor about reducing your risk.
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