Are you at risk of a sexually transmitted infection?

Sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia can interfere with your ability to conceive. These infections also pose risks to both mother and baby during pregnancy. If you're at risk of a sexually transmitted infection — or you think you or your partner might have an infection — ask your health care provider about preconception screening and treatment.

Do you have a family history of any specific medical conditions?

Sometimes family medical history — either yours or your partner's — increases the risk of having a child who has certain medical conditions, such as cystic fibrosis, or birth defects. If genetic conditions are a concern, your health care provider might refer you to a genetic counselor for a preconception assessment.

How old are you and your partner?

As maternal age increases, the risk of fertility problems, pregnancy loss and certain chromosomal conditions increases. Some pregnancy-related complications, such as gestational diabetes, also are more common in older mothers. The age of the baby's father can play a role, too. Your health care provider can help you put any risks into perspective, as well as develop a plan to give your baby the best start.

Have you been pregnant before?

Your health care provider will ask about previous pregnancies. Be sure to mention any complications you might have had, such as high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, preterm labor, premature birth or birth defects, or pregnancies that required a C-section.

If you had a previous pregnancy involving a neural tube defect, your health care provider will likely recommend a higher daily dose of folic acid than what's found in most prenatal vitamins.

If you have any concerns or fears about another pregnancy, share them with your health care provider. He or she will help you understand the best ways to boost your chances of a healthy pregnancy.

Does your current lifestyle support a healthy pregnancy?

Healthy lifestyle choices during pregnancy are essential. For example:

  • Your health care provider will discuss the importance of a healthy diet, regular physical activity and managing stress.
  • If you're underweight or overweight, your health care provider might recommend addressing your weight before you conceive.
  • It's also important to avoid alcohol, illegal drugs and exposure to toxic substances.
  • If you smoke, ask your health care provider about resources to help you quit.

If possible, ask your partner to attend the preconception visit with you. Your partner's health and lifestyle are important because they can affect both you and the baby.

July 07, 2015 See more In-depth