Making the decision to try for a baby is an exciting and momentous time. It can also be quite a daunting and anxiety-filled time, particularly if it's your first baby. During pregnancy, your health and the health of your baby will be your prime concerns. For this reason, there are three health checks that you should complete at your local medical centre before you start trying to conceive.
1. Nutrient levels
During pregnancy, there are high demands put on your body for nutrients. It's wise to make sure that your body has good levels of the main nutrients you'll need to keep yourself healthy and ensure that your baby develops properly.
There are several main nutrients that your doctor will check the levels of. Folate is one that is very important for healthy neural tube development Pregnancy requires large amounts of iron in your blood, so it's important to check that you're starting off with a healthy level to avoid the lethargy of pregnancy-induced anaemia.
2. Vaccine titre levels
During pregnancy and in your baby's first few months, your immunity levels against vaccine-preventable diseases will keep you both healthy. Even if you're up to date with your vaccine schedule, it's worth checking your titre levels in case they have diminished, which is uncommon but does happen.
This medical check is particularly important when it comes to the rubella vaccination and the pertussis, or whooping cough, vaccination. Contracting rubella during pregnancy can be extremely harmful to your growing baby and can cause deafness, deformities and stillbirth. Pertussis is a nasty disease for adults and older children, but in babies with immature respiratory systems, it can be fatal.
3. Hormone levels
Female hormones, notably estrogen and progesterone, are vital to the conception process. If either of these hormones is low, then you may find it difficult to conceive or you might miscarry the pregnancy in the early stages. Checking that they're at optimal levels before you start to conceive may save you a lot of stress and heartbreak.
If your hormones aren't at an optimal level, your doctor may prescribe you hormone supplements to boost your natural supply. They may also refer you to a gynaecologist for further tests that can identify and treat the cause of your irregular hormone levels.
If you're planning to try for a baby, then book yourself an appointment with your doctor to discuss your plans. They can organise all of these health checks for you and suggest other tests that may be beneficial for successful conception.