Pregnancy health can begin long before pregnancy does. Parents-to-be who are in their thirties or older, or who have any chronic health conditions or other specific concerns about conception, can benefit from attending a preconception appointment before they start trying to conceive. Other reasons to schedule a preconception appointment might include having the chance to talk to a healthcare provider about stopping birth control, checking to make sure all vaccines are current, and discovering whether any medications you’re currently taking will be safe to take during pregnancy.
What a preconception appointment might look like
A preconception appointment will often be with your primary care provider. That person can be a general practitioner, a family doctor, an OB/GYN, a certified nurse, or a certified nurse-midwife. Your primary care provider might also recommend an appointment with a specialist, if you have a history of or concerns about certain health conditions. Preconception appointments can look slightly different depending on your personal health and medical history, but they often cover similar general concerns.
- Birth control: Depending on what kind of birth control you use, your healthcare provider may remove birth control if, for example, you have an implant, or recommend a time to stop other birth control.
- Vaccinations: Infections which are commonly vaccinated for can be dangerous to babies in the womb, so it’s important to make sure all of your vaccinations are up-to-date. This is why a preconception appointment might include any vaccinations your record shows that you’re missing, and a blood test to make sure you’re immune to illnesses that might be harmful.
- Pregnancy history: If you’ve been pregnant before, a previous pregnancy might offer some clues to risks you could face during this pregnancy. A preconception appointment might include talking through whether you have a history of preterm birth, miscarriage, stillbirth, or a baby with birth defects.
- Personal medical history: A preconception appointment would include a conversation about the effects certain conditions could have on a pregnancy, and how to manage them. This includes diabetes, depression, substance use, high blood pressure, and not being at a healthy weight. A preconception appointment is also a great time to check in about any medications you take. You can learn whether they’re safe during pregnancy, and whether there’s a more pregnancy-friendly version of them to switch to.
- Substance use: Quitting or reducing your use of substances such as tobacco, alcohol, and recreational or prescription drugs is one of the best things you can do for your health as you try to conceive. You can speak with your provider about your risks, if any, and he or she can help you come up with strategies to reduce or eliminate your use of any substances that might be harmful for the reproductive process.
- Family history: Your provider will take a family history to evaluate whether they recommend that you or your partner get preconception assessment with a genetic counselor. That appointment would involve testing to determine your or your partner’s risk for conceiving a child with certain conditions, including cystic fibrosis or birth defects.
- Age: Depending on your and your partner’s age, your provider might offer you a referral to a fertility specialist if you try to conceive without becoming pregnant for a certain amount of time. They may also talk you through certain health risks or concerns that are more common in older mothers, older fathers, or both, depending on your family’s situation.
Questions for your healthcare provider
The preconception appointment is also a great time to ask your healthcare provider any questions you might have, either about conceiving or about pregnancy. It’s also a great time to feel out whether they’re the provider you’d like to care for you during your pregnancy. If you’re hoping to hire a doula, you might ask your provider whether they’ve worked with a doula before, for example. It’s also a great time to plan for healthy lifestyle changes you might consider when trying to conceive, including diet, exercise, and quitting smoking.
You should speak with your healthcare provider if you have any questions about a preconception appointment.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona may cover preconception (and prenatal) appointments as preventive care. This means you may not need to pay anything for these services.
Benefits may vary by plan. You can visit azblue.com and sign up for a MyBlue account using your member ID located on your insurance card. Once signed into MyBlue, you can view your plan’s provider directory, your plan’s benefits, co-pays and deductibles, as well as many other aspects.
If you cannot find an answer to your question through your MyBlue account, call the Customer Service number on your BCBSAZ ID card.