When it comes to family planning, there’s a lot to consider. First you had to decide whether you wanted a family or not, and when the answer was yes, the decisions you needed to make seemed to multiply. When should you start trying? Should you seek medical care to give you the best chance of becoming pregnant? If so, who should you see?
It can definitely feel overwhelming, but the answers are closer than you may have thought.
This article discusses how your GP can help with family planning and gives a brief overview of what shared care is and how it works. For personalised advice, contact our team at Newbay Medical Clinic today.
Your First Point Of Contact: Your GP
Most people see their GP when they have any health-related questions or concerns. While pregnancy is generally a joyful time, it’s also very much medical in nature.
GPs have a wide range of skills and a wealth of knowledge about pregnancy, from pre-conception through to antenatal care. Seeing your GP when you’re considering family planning is a great option as they should already have an understanding of who you are as a person as well as important information about your health. Much of this information may play a role in the next nine to 10 months of your life, as well as for years beyond childbirth.
How Your GP Can Help With Family Planning
Your GP can help with family planning by providing:
1. Pre-Conception Check-Up
The pre-conception period begins three months prior to conceiving. During this time it’s important to take note of your current lifestyle and that of your partner, and make any changes to optimise your chances of falling pregnant. Beyond that, you may be able to implement changes that should allow you to have a healthy pregnancy and provide benefits for both you and your child.
A pre-conception check-up gives you the chance to maximise your overall wellbeing. In doing so, you’ll be giving your child the best chance of success in life as well. During your pre-conception check-up your GP may address:
- STI screening
- Cervical screening
- Pelvic exam
- Breast exam
- Abdominal exam
- Blood tests to check certain levels such as iron and vitamin D
- Urine testing to screen for UTIs and kidney disease
- Reviewing your current medications
- Your mental health including depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders
- Any pre-existing conditions you may have such as asthma, heart problems, blood disorders, diabetes, and epilepsy
- Possible genetic disorders
- Your weight— this is because being underweight or overweight may have an impact on your periods which may make it more difficult to conceive
Even if you were fully immunised as a child, you may require booster shots as you prepare for pregnancy. Before falling pregnant, you should be up to date with these immunisations:
- MMR (measles, mumps, and Rubella)
- Hepatitis B
If you are already pregnant, or suspect you may be, you cannot receive the MMR vaccine as it poses a risk to your baby’s health.
During pregnancy, you may receive the DTPa vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis).
If you’re unsure of your vaccination status for any or all of the above, you can ask your GP for a blood screening test.
3. Information Addressing Specific Concerns
Every body and every pregnancy is different. While many people preparing for pregnancy have similar questions, you may also have questions regarding any specific health-related concerns. For example, if you have a specific medical condition, you and your GP may discuss if and how this could play a part in your pregnancy.
Questions you may like to ask include:
- Should I take a prenatal vitamin? If so, which one?
- Is it safe to continue taking my current medications during pregnancy? If not, is there an alternative I could take or a way to safely wean off this medication?
- Am I in a healthy weight range for pregnancy? If not, is there anything in particular I should or shouldn’t do to optimise my chances of conception?
- Are there any certain foods I should avoid?
- Can I still do my regular exercise routine? If not, is there a safe alternative or adaptation? Should I begin exercising if I don’t currently do so?
- My family has a history of [a certain health condition]. Is this likely to affect pregnancy in any way? If yes, is there anything we can do to address this?
- How should I pick specialists and a hospital? Should I go public or private? What about shared care?
Shared Care In Pregnancy
Your GP may suggest shared care if you’re considered to be low-risk when it comes to pregnancy. Shared care is an arrangement between your GP and the hospital where you plan to give birth. This means you will get to see the same doctor or midwife throughout your pregnancy, and your GP may even be at the birth. Shared care is usually offered through public hospitals and any birth centres that may be attached to them.
Looking For Professional And Caring Family Planning?
At Newbay Medical Centre, we pride ourselves on our approach to women’s health. Wherever you are in your health journey, including at any stage of your family planning, we’re here to make the process as simple and smooth as possible. When you’re looking for a kind and experienced GP who’s finely attuned to women’s health services before, during, and after pregnancy, contact our team at Newbay Medical Clinic today.