Your checkup before pregnancy

Are you hoping to get pregnant soon? Planning for a baby is a special time!

A preconception checkup is a medical checkup you get before pregnancy. It helps make sure you’re healthy when you get pregnant. Getting a preconception checkup is one of the best things you can do to help you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

Why is a preconception checkup important?

A preconception checkup helps your health care provider make sure that your body is ready for pregnancy. If you can, meet with the health care provider you want to take care of you when you do get pregnant. You can get a preconception checkup any time—even up to a year before you want to get pregnant.

Some medical conditions and lifestyle choices can affect pregnancy. They also can affect your chances of getting pregnant. Your provider can help you get these things under control to avoid health problems in you and your baby during pregnancy.

If you use birth control, you and your provider can talk about when to stop using it before trying to get pregnant. Your provider may suggest you stop using birth control a few months before you start trying to get pregnant. This lets your body go through a few normal menstrual cycles before you get pregnant. Having some normal cycles before pregnancy can help your provider figure out your due date when you do get pregnant.

What happens at a preconception checkup?

During a preconception checkup, your provider:

  • Checks your health and screens for any new health problems
  • Talks with you about your family health history and your lifestyle
  • Answers any questions you have about getting pregnant

Your provider may:

  • Give you a physical exam that includes taking your weight and checking your blood pressure
  • Give you a pelvic exam. This is an exam of the pelvic organs to make sure they are healthy. If you have any problems in these organs, getting treatment before pregnancy may help you avoid problems during pregnancy. Treatment also can help if you have fertility problems (problems getting pregnant).
  • Do a Pap test. This is a medical test in which your provider collects cells from your cervix, the opening to your uterus that sits at the top of the vagina. The cells are checked for cancer.
  • Run blood tests to check for things like your blood type and Rh factor. Rh factor is a protein found on red blood cells.
  • Screen for obesity, diabetes or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), like genital herpes and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Do you need a preconception checkup if you’ve already had a baby?

Yes. Your health may have changed since you were last pregnant. And if you had a problem in a past pregnancy, your provider may be able to help you avoid the same problem in your next pregnancy.

A preconception checkup is really important if you’ve had any of these problems in a past pregnancy:

  • Miscarriage, when a baby dies in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy
  • Stillbirth, when a baby dies in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy
  • Premature birth, birth that happens too early, before 37 weeks of pregnancy
  • Baby with a birth defect, a problem with the baby’s body that is present at birth

How can your family health history affect pregnancy? 

Family health history is a record of any health problems and treatments that you, your partner and everyone in both of your families has had.

Your family health history can help you and your provider look out for health problems that may run in your family. For example, if your family healthy history shows that you have a high risk of having a baby with a genetic disorder or birth defect, you may want to meet with a genetic counselor. A genetic counselor is a person who is trained to know about genetics, birth defects and other medical problems that run in families.

It’s a good idea to start putting your family history together before your preconception checkup so you can share it with your provider at your checkup. You and your partner can use a family health history form (.PDF, 424KB) to gather information.

Your family health history can help your provider:

  • Find the cause of a problem you had in a past pregnancy. Your provider may use tests like blood tests or ultrasound to help find the cause of the problem. Getting treatment often can lower the chances of you having the same problem in another pregnancy.
  • Treat health conditions before pregnancy. Some chronic (long-lasting) health conditions can lead to pregnancy problems and, sometimes, birth defects. Getting treatment before pregnancy for conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, lupus and PKU, can improve your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and baby.
  • Make sure any prescription and over-the-counter medicines you take are safe during pregnancy. A prescription medicine is a medicine you can buy only if you have an order for that medicine written by a health care provider. Over-the-counter medicines are medicines you can buy without a prescription, like pain relievers or cough syrup. Some medicines may be harmful to a growing baby. You may need to stop taking a medicine or switch to another medicine during pregnancy. Don’t stop taking any prescription medicine without your provider’s OK. Stopping some medicines, like medicines for asthma, depression or diabetes, can be more harmful to you or your baby than taking the medicine. Tell your provider about any medicine you take.
  • Check that your vaccinations are up to date. Infections like chickenpox and rubella (German measles)can harm you and your baby during pregnancy. It’s best to get caught up on vaccinations before you get pregnant. Wait at least 1 month after getting any vaccination before trying to get pregnant.

Do you need a dental checkup before pregnancy?

It’s a great idea to keep up your regular dental checkups before and during pregnancy. Some studies show a link between gum disease and having a premature or low-birthweight baby. If you have gum disease, getting treatment before pregnancy may prevent health problems in you and your baby.

At your next regular dentist appointment, tell your dentist you’re planning to get pregnant

What are good questions to ask your provider about getting pregnant?

Your preconception checkup is a great time to ask your provider any questions you have about getting pregnant. You may want to know:

More information

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
CDC birth control 
CDC Show Your Love Campaign
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Womenshealth.gov


Last reviewed: September, 2012

Are you hoping to get pregnant soon? Planning for a baby is a special time!

A preconception checkup is a medical checkup you get before pregnancy. It helps make sure you’re healthy when you get pregnant. Getting a preconception checkup is one of the best things you can do to help you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

Why is a preconception checkup important?

A preconception checkup helps your health care provider make sure that your body is ready for pregnancy. If you can, meet with the health care provider you want to take care of you when you do get pregnant. You can get a preconception checkup any time—even up to a year before you want to get pregnant.

Some medical conditions and lifestyle choices can affect pregnancy. They also can affect your chances of getting pregnant. Your provider can help you get these things under control to avoid health problems in you and your baby during pregnancy.

If you use birth control, you and your provider can talk about when to stop using it before trying to get pregnant. Your provider may suggest you stop using birth control a few months before you start trying to get pregnant. This lets your body go through a few normal menstrual cycles before you get pregnant. Having some normal cycles before pregnancy can help your provider figure out your due date when you do get pregnant.

What happens at a preconception checkup?

During a preconception checkup, your provider:

  • Checks your health and screens for any new health problems
  • Talks with you about your family health history and your lifestyle
  • Answers any questions you have about getting pregnant

Your provider may:

  • Give you a physical exam that includes taking your weight and checking your blood pressure
  • Give you a pelvic exam. This is an exam of the pelvic organs to make sure they are healthy. If you have any problems in these organs, getting treatment before pregnancy may help you avoid problems during pregnancy. Treatment also can help if you have fertility problems (problems getting pregnant).
  • Do a Pap test. This is a medical test in which your provider collects cells from your cervix, the opening to your uterus that sits at the top of the vagina. The cells are checked for cancer.
  • Run blood tests to check for things like your blood type and Rh factor. Rh factor is a protein found on red blood cells.
  • Screen for obesity, diabetes or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), like genital herpes and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Do you need a preconception checkup if you’ve already had a baby?

Yes. Your health may have changed since you were last pregnant. And if you had a problem in a past pregnancy, your provider may be able to help you avoid the same problem in your next pregnancy.

A preconception checkup is really important if you’ve had any of these problems in a past pregnancy:

  • Miscarriage, when a baby dies in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy
  • Stillbirth, when a baby dies in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy
  • Premature birth, birth that happens too early, before 37 weeks of pregnancy
  • Baby with a birth defect, a problem with the baby’s body that is present at birth

How can your family health history affect pregnancy? 

Family health history is a record of any health problems and treatments that you, your partner and everyone in both of your families has had.

Your family health history can help you and your provider look out for health problems that may run in your family. For example, if your family healthy history shows that you have a high risk of having a baby with a genetic disorder or birth defect, you may want to meet with a genetic counselor. A genetic counselor is a person who is trained to know about genetics, birth defects and other medical problems that run in families.

It’s a good idea to start putting your family history together before your preconception checkup so you can share it with your provider at your checkup. You and your partner can use a family health history form (.PDF, 424KB) to gather information.

Your family health history can help your provider:

  • Find the cause of a problem you had in a past pregnancy. Your provider may use tests like blood tests or ultrasound to help find the cause of the problem. Getting treatment often can lower the chances of you having the same problem in another pregnancy.
  • Treat health conditions before pregnancy. Some chronic (long-lasting) health conditions can lead to pregnancy problems and, sometimes, birth defects. Getting treatment before pregnancy for conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, lupus and PKU, can improve your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and baby.
  • Make sure any prescription and over-the-counter medicines you take are safe during pregnancy. A prescription medicine is a medicine you can buy only if you have an order for that medicine written by a health care provider. Over-the-counter medicines are medicines you can buy without a prescription, like pain relievers or cough syrup. Some medicines may be harmful to a growing baby. You may need to stop taking a medicine or switch to another medicine during pregnancy. Don’t stop taking any prescription medicine without your provider’s OK. Stopping some medicines, like medicines for asthma, depression or diabetes, can be more harmful to you or your baby than taking the medicine. Tell your provider about any medicine you take.
  • Check that your vaccinations are up to date. Infections like chickenpox and rubella (German measles)can harm you and your baby during pregnancy. It’s best to get caught up on vaccinations before you get pregnant. Wait at least 1 month after getting any vaccination before trying to get pregnant.

Do you need a dental checkup before pregnancy?

It’s a great idea to keep up your regular dental checkups before and during pregnancy. Some studies show a link between gum disease and having a premature or low-birthweight baby. If you have gum disease, getting treatment before pregnancy may prevent health problems in you and your baby.

At your next regular dentist appointment, tell your dentist you’re planning to get pregnant

What are good questions to ask your provider about getting pregnant?

Your preconception checkup is a great time to ask your provider any questions you have about getting pregnant. You may want to know:

More information

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
CDC birth control 
CDC Show Your Love Campaign
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Womenshealth.gov


Last reviewed: September, 2012