Pregnancy planning

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP
    David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP

    David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP

    Dr. Perlstein received his Medical Degree from the University of Cincinnati and then completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at The New York Hospital, Cornell medical Center in New York City. After serving an additional year as Chief Pediatric Resident, he worked as a private practitioner and then was appointed Director of Ambulatory Pediatrics at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.

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What are pre-pregnancy planning goals?

Before a woman becomes pregnant she can discuss her medical history with a doctor, focusing on the following:

  • Chronic medical conditions like diabetes, thyroid disease, kidney disease, or heart disease should be monitored and well controlled prior to conception for the greatest chances of a healthy pregnancy.
  • Women may be tested to determine if they have been infected with the HIV or hepatitis B viruses, so that appropriate treatment during pregnancy or at delivery can help prevent transmission of the infections to the baby.
  • Immunization history and immune response to varicella (chickenpox) and rubella (German measles): the status of a woman's immunity to these two infections, which can cause harm to the developing fetus can be determined by a blood test. If a woman is not immune to these infections, vaccinations can be given before trying to conceive. After receiving the varicella vaccine, women should wait 30 days before attempting conception. Precautions against developing certain other infections should also be taken.
  • Couples who have a history of inherited diseases, have other children with genetic diseases, or who have family histories of certain conditions may choose to undergo genetic counseling prior to conception. Your doctor can help you determine whether genetic counseling is appropriate for you.
  • Smoking cessation dramatically improves the chances of a healthy pregnancy, and women planning pregnancy should abstain from alcohol use. Those with substance abuse problems should ideally be identified and treated prior to planning a pregnancy.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/12/2016

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