“If you are planning for a pregnancy, it is advisable to consult an obstetrician and gynaecologist as early as possible” advises Dr June Tan, Senior Consultant at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
A preconception check-up allows your doctor to assess your overall health before you try to conceive and highlight any potential risks to you and your foetus should you get pregnant.
“A general and basic pelvic examination can help to ensure the womb is healthy and able to carry a pregnancy successfully. In some cases, a pelvic ultrasound is performed to check for ovarian cysts, fibroids in the womb and also for uterine anomalies, as these may affect conception and even the development of the baby in the womb,” explains Dr Tan.
The state of a woman’s gynaecological health is an important factor when trying to conceive. Your doctor will speak to you about your menstrual cycle, sexual history, birth control usage as well as previous pregnancies, miscarriages or abortions. While it may be awkward to talk about some of these matters, it is important to be honest.
If you have been on hormonal contraception, you should also seek advice on when you can start trying for a baby, given the lasting effects of some hormonal contraceptives.
Your doctor will ask you and your spouse about your medical histories. So, look up your old medical records and inform your doctor of any previous illnesses, surgeries or chronic conditions that either of you might have had.
If possible, you should also speak to your parents about your family’s health history. Check if any family members have had genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis, blood disorders like Thalassemia, chromosomal disorders like Down syndrome or congenital defects like a cleft palate. If any of your family members has had these conditions, you should inform your doctor so that he can advise you accordingly and perhaps recommend some medical tests.
If you have pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension or anaemia, you should ensure that your condition is under control before you try to conceive.
“Women with these conditions can have successful pregnancies. However, they are more likely to have a smoother pregnancy and a healthier baby if these conditions are well-controlled before conception,” says Dr Tan.
You should also inform your doctor about your current medication for your conditions. The doctor may need to prescribe alternative medicine that is safe for pregnant women.
Immunisation and Other Tests
Dr Tan’s advice to women planning for pregnancy is to check for common infective diseases like Hepatitis B, Rubella or German Measles or Chicken pox and receive vaccination for these conditions if necessary. These illnesses may severely affect the physical development of the baby during pregnancy. Exposure to Rubella in early pregnancy can cause birth defects such as deafness or heart abnormalities.
“If you have not had any of these illnesses in your earlier years, or have not developed natural immunity to these infections, you should get yourself vaccinated against them at, least three months before trying for a baby,” she says.
Also discuss with your doctor about any health concerns and fears you may have. He or she will be able to highlight conditions which need attention before you try to conceive, and provide other advice to help you prepare well for conception and pregnancy. All the best!
We thank Dr June Tan for her professional inputs.