Is Preconception Counseling Necessary?

Amy Kuras

counselingWhen I was trying to get pregnant, I consulted Dr. Google, talked to friends, and studiously avoided the What to Expect type of books out of fear that my mom would find them at my house and get all excited for nothing. Once it became clear that things were not going well, I found myself an OB/GYN and made an appointment.

She was awesome, and I was seriously bummed she moved away before I actually got knocked up. She referred me for some tests so that insurance would cover them, wrote me a prescription for Clomid, and suggested we have more sex. What she didn't do was any sort of preconception counseling; she may have recommended I take folic acid and asked about my vaccinations, but that's about it.

More and more doctors are recommending an actual preconception visit to talk about things like healthy diet, medications, and medical history that might point toward genetic risk. Personally, I think this should become as routine as that first prenatal visit about 10 weeks along.

According to Baylor College of Medicine, a preconception appointment should cover a variety of areas: Nutrition, work, and home environments, and even counseling about limiting exposure to infectious diseases. Even things you wouldn't think of, like talking with the prospective parents about the changes a baby will cause, or making sure moms are on pregnancy-safe medications for any chronic conditions, should be part of the drill.

Yes, it's one more thing to think about when you make that life-altering decision to have a baby, but I think it's smart. After all, so much crucial development happens in those early weeks before you first see your doctor or midwife. Knowing that you're already giving the baby the best possible start would be very reassuring to worriers like me.

What do you think? Is preconception counseling needed? Would you have done it?


Image via Joe Houghton/Flickr

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