Before pregnancy

Schedule a doctor visit before you get pregnant

Thinking about having a baby? Don’t wait for the results of a home pregnancy test before you see a doctor. Consider having that first prenatal visit before you get pregnant.

It’s called a preconception checkup.1 And it can help make sure that you are healthy and ready for pregnancy.

What to expect

During your visit, your doctor will check your health. He or she will look for risks that might affect your pregnancy.

Your checkup may include:

  • A physical exam. You may need screening tests, such as a Pap smear. Or your blood may be tested. This is also a good time to update any vaccines you need.
  • A medical history. Tell your doctor about any conditions or treatments you’ve had in the past. Review any prescription or over-the-counter drugs or supplements you take. And answer questions about your diet, habits, and work or home environment.
  • A family medical history. Discuss health conditions that run in your family and how they may affect your pregnancy. Your doctor can refer you for genetic counseling, if needed.1
  • A review of your past pregnancies and birth control use.

If you have a health condition — such as diabetes, high blood pressure or a seizure disorder — it’s important to get it under control before you get pregnant. Your doctor can help make sure you are treated.

Preparing your body for baby

Your diet can be a key part of a healthy pregnancy. Talk with your doctor about your current weight. And ask whether it might help to gain or lose some weight before you become pregnant. You may be more likely to have health problems during pregnancy if you’re overweight or underweight.2

Your doctor may also suggest that you start taking a multivitamin with folic acid. Folic acid helps prevent certain birth defects, such as spina bifida, where the brain or spinal cord does not form properly.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that all women who could become pregnant take a multivitamin containing 400 to 800 micrograms of folic acid every day. Talk with your doctor about when to start and how long to take it.

Certain factors may change how much folic acid you should take. So ask your doctor how much is right for you.

Now is also the time to look at your tobacco and alcohol use. Smoking can raise the risk of a miscarriage or low birth weight. And drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause a birth defect called fetal alcohol syndrome.2

You may need help and support to quit. So talk with your doctor about your habits and what you need to do for a healthy pregnancy.

What to do next

See what checkups and screenings may be recommended for you. Look up guidelines for preventive care. 


  1. Check your benefit plan to see what services may be covered.
  2. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; March of Dimes


The information provided here is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be nor should be construed as medical or other advice. Talk to an appropriate health care professional to determine what may be right for you.

Last reviewed June 2017