Family Medicine Obstetrics Women's health

Thinking of having a baby? Make health your priority

Woman holding pregnant belly
Dr. Karen Fleming
Written by Dr. Karen Fleming

With Mother’s Day approaching, perhaps have been thinking about entering down the road to parenthood.

If you’re thinking of having a child, a preconception visit with a health-care professional is a good way to start. Surprisingly, many women are not aware of this.

Good health for mom and baby starts before pregnancy. Ideally, I like to sit down with women before they’ve gone to the drug store to buy a pregnancy test kit to confirm they are pregnant.

There are lots of things to consider and discuss before you get pregnant. It’s much more than taking a prenatal vitamin, and it may be a little overwhelming at the start, but planning ahead is key. It’s similar to a marathon: you would never attempt to run one without training for it!

What to expect at a preconception appointment

I suggest my patients bring a list of questions they might have about conceiving. For example, topics such as travel, genetic carrier screening, drugs, healthy weight, exercise and an immunization update should be part of the preconception discussion. We know so much more today about pregnancy than when our parents were having babies and information changes!

A full review of your medical history (family and personal) is also an important point of discussion. It’s key that any potential risks are addressed with your doctor, and any pre-existing medical issues are covered. This includes diabetes, high blood pressure, epilepsy or heart disease.

Pregnancy and birth involve many physical and emotional changes, and preparing your body (and a healthy start) is just as important as your overall health during and after pregnancy.

Family physicians provide personalized care that builds upon the long-term relationships they have with women and their families across the lifespan. We promote good health before, during and after pregnancy. In essence, we look after the whole person: the mother as well as the health of the baby.

Did you know? There’s a profound link between a woman’s health pre-pregnancy, during pregnancy, and her future health.

Family Medicine Obstetrics Open House

Want to learn more about good health before, during and after pregnancy? Looking for a family physician who can guide you through the pregnancy journey and delivers at Sunnybrook? You’re invited to attend Sunnybrook’s Family Medicine Obstetrics Community Open House! Learn more and register.

About the author

Dr. Karen Fleming

Dr. Karen Fleming

Dr. Karen Fleming is a family physician with a special interest and expertise in pregnancy and birth.

She is the Division Lead for Family Medicine Obstetrics at Sunnybrook. She is also the Chief of Sunnybrook's Department of Family and Community Medicine.

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