If you're planning to start trying to conceive a baby in the near future, then you may be starting to get yourself fit and healthy in order to increase your chances. Many prospective mums-to-be reduce their alcohol consumption, decrease the number of coffees they drink each day and start taking prenatal vitamin supplements during the lead up to conception.
You may assume that the time after you've gotten that incredible positive result on a pregnancy test will be the beginning of the medical care that's involved with having a baby. However, it's also important to attend a prenatal check up with your GP during this preconception period. Here are the three main issues that your GP will check for during this appointment.
1. Pap smear test
Pap smears are tests that detect any abnormal changes in the cervix that may precede the development of cervical cancer. These are normally carried out every two years but it's recommended that you get one before conceiving, particularly if it's been over a year since your last test.
If you've had the HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) vaccine, then you may think that a pap smear is unnecessary. However, the vaccine doesn't provide protection against all strains of cancer causing HPV and pap smears are still important.
2. Immunisation status test
Even if you're fully up to date with your vaccine schedule, your GP will recommend a blood test to make sure that your immunity levels to viruses that are harmful during pregnancy are at a high enough level. Viruses such as Measles, Rubella (German Measles) and Varicella (Chicken Pox) can be very dangerous to the health of your baby during pregnancy.
If your immune status to these and other viruses is too low, then your GP will no doubt want to re-immunise you. This is a good time to discuss when will be the best time to have the Influenza vaccine administered in preparation for the next flu season.
3. General blood tests
Your GP will also refer you to have a blood test to check for other issues that might make conception and gestation difficult or dangerous. These tests will check things such as your thyroid function, iron levels, folate levels and blood glucose levels. They will also check for any STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections) as a precautionary test.
Depending on your current health and any health issues you may have had in your past, your GP may also include other checks to be run on your blood. This may include hormone levels such as progesterone and oestrogen, which can indicate that ovulation is occurring successfully. For more information, contact a local women's health care clinic.