Women often plan for pregnancy with one goal in mind: to have a baby. They don’t usually give a lot of thought to what pregnancy means for them and their health. This time before pregnancy, called the preconception period, is the perfect time to take stock of your general health and lifestyle habits to give yourself, and your baby, the best shot.
What we see too often in our practice is a patient who comes for their first prenatal visit, assuming they will be told that everything is great. Instead, they are surprised to find out a pre-existing condition – like a thyroid disorder or something that happened in a prior pregnancy – puts them at a higher risk for developing complications that could affect both them and their baby.
Although there are few scenarios where we would recommend someone not get pregnant, we, as health care providers, would love to talk with patients about their history prior to conception to see how we can manage these conditions if pregnancy occurs.
WakeMed OB-GYN is pleased to offer preconception counseling visits to review your history, discuss your health, and make recommendations for the healthiest pregnancy possible.
What happens at a preconception visit?
All preconception visits vary based on the needs, questions, and concerns of the patient. In general, though, here are a few topics we might cover:
- Chronic conditions
- Medications you are taking. Not all medication is safe during pregnancy, including some over-the-counter medications, supplements, herbal remedies, etc.
- Pregnancy history
- Establishing healthy habits – exercise, nutrition, drug use (including tobacco, alcohol, etc.)
- Folic acid supplementation
- Discussion of family history and genetic risks
- Vaccine history
What if I have a condition that makes me “high risk?”
We want you to feel assured that we will do everything we can to help guide you through pregnancy and manage any conditions or complications that develop along the way.
To do this, we have a comprehensive team of expert providers who may become a part of your pregnancy journey, including maternal fetal medicine specialists, genetic counselors, and diabetes educators. We may also consult other specialties, including cardiology or endocrinology, if needed. If you have a specialist who you see to manage an existing condition, we may work with them to tailor your treatment plan (for example, a neurologist who manages your seizure disorder).
What if I don’t have many risk factors? Is WakeMed still the place for me?
Absolutely! Our team of physicians, nurse midwives, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners will partner with you to achieve your goals of a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby.
Let’s Talk About Pregnancy
If you plan to get pregnant in the next year, we’d love to talk with you first! Preconception counseling with a physician, nurse midwife, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner is a great opportunity to address health concerns and learn about healthy pregnancy. We may ask you a lot of questions, but this helps us identify and address potential problem areas before you get pregnant.
Preconception counseling is so important that it’s recommended by multiple resource groups, including the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We recommend preconception counseling for anyone considering pregnancy, including those who identify as heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual, gender nonconforming, transgender, etc.
Not ready for pregnancy?
Our team of providers is well-versed in pregnancy prevention. If pregnancy is not on your to-do list, we can also discuss the many options that exist to prevent pregnancy.
About Alison Grimme O’Quinn, WHNP
Alison O’Quinn is board-certified women’s health nurse practitioner who comes to WakeMed Obstetrics & Gynecology after working as a registered nurse for many years.
Alison has clinical interests in contraception counseling, health promotion and preventive care, and working with adolescents. She has experience with high- and low-risk prenatal care, gynecologic concerns, well-woman exams, and working with transgender individuals.