Pre-pregnancy Health Check
Your doctor will do a series of tests to make sure that your body is ready for pregnancy and that you have no diseases to prevent you from conceiving. He or she will also check to make sure that you don't have any infections that can be passed on to your baby.
An internal examination may be carried out if you have had problems in the past with menstruation or a pelvic infection. Also, if you have any infections or conditions, they can be treated now to ensure you have a healthy pregnancy.
Cervical Smear Test
It is important that you have a cervical smear test done every three years. Check when you last had one and make an appointment if you are due. Let your doctor know if you have had any abnormal cervical smear tests in the past.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
Both you and your partner should have complete tests for STIs as well as an AIDS test. If you do have an STI, you should let your doctor know immediately so you can start treatment, thereby increasing your chances of a successful pregnancy. You should always use a condom while one of you has an STI and should never try to conceive until you are completely clear of the disease.
A urinalysis test is taken to test for urinary tract infection (UTI). You may be asked for a urine sample so you can be checked for UTI and, if you have one, it can then be treated immediately. Avoid trying to conceive altogether if you have an UTI as it is associated with miscarriage, low-birth weight and premature labor.
If you have not had rubella, it may be advisable to be vaccinated prior to becoming pregnant. If you do get vaccinated, you should delay trying to get pregnant for three months. You should not get vaccinated during pregnancy. If contracted during pregnancy, rubella can cause birth defects. Another infection to be aware of is toxoplasmosis. Avoid eating undercooked meat or handling cat litter. These are known sources of toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that can seriously affect the fetus.
A blood test will be done to test for anaemia and other abnormalities in your blood. Once you have conceived, your GP will continue to take blood tests throughout your pregnancy.
Blood Pressure Check
Pregnant women with high blood pressure (hypertension) are more likely to develop pre-eclampsia and have placental problems, so it's important to control high blood pressure before you conceive.
If there is a history of genetic problems in either of your families, you will be referred to have genetic testing done. The vast majority of babies are perfectly healthy — only 2 to 3% are born with a major birth defect.
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