This is an important time if you are considering having a child. Organ development in the embryo begins early in pregnancy and placental development begins with implantation in the wall of the uterus at 7 days after conception. There has therefore been a significant amount of development occurring before a woman knows that she is pregnant. Consequently, antenatal care should ideally begin before you become pregnant.
At a pre-conception visit you can discuss with your doctor your family planning goals – how many children you plan to have and when in your reproductive life you plan for this to happen. If you are not yet planning to have children this can include a discussion of effective contraception options.
Your doctor will also discuss your past obstetric history and any complications that may indicate a risk of recurrence in subsequent pregnancies. There will also be a review of your general health and known medical conditions, including a review of medications, again to ascertain if there is any risk and/or required precautions prior to conception.
You will also be asked about any family history of genetic screening or known disorders and there will be an assessment of your immunisation history and immunity to diseases to which exposure during pregnancy is dangerous for your foetus.
Your doctor will also talk to you about lifestyle issues such as alcohol consumption, smoking and illicit substance use during pregnancy and while trying to conceive, as well as appropriate exercise and nutrition. This includes recommended supplements for pregnancy.
The aim of preconception care is for you to become pregnant within a time window of your choosing in a state of physical health conducive to optimum foetal development.