Preparing for a healthy pregnancy

If you are planning on becoming pregnant, you will want to give your pregnancy the healthiest start possible. The care team at Novant Health will work with you from preconception counseling through the stages of pregnancy.

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Planning for pregnancy

When planning for pregnancy, it’s a good idea to schedule a preconception visit with your ob-gyn or midwife — especially if you are using contraception or birth control and plan to stop. You will see your provider a lot during your pregnancy, and this visit helps you find a trusted provider you’re comfortable with and lay the foundation for a healthier pregnancy.

What does a preconception visit involve?

At your initial visit, your provider may discuss various factors that could affect your pregnancy, such as:

  • Your family and medical history
  • Lifestyle, including diet and exercise
  • Medications and supplements you take
  • Genetic factors that could affect your pregnancy

They'll also review your menstrual cycle, methods of birth control you use and your expectations for a healthy pregnancy.

Creating a preconception plan

Your provider will help you develop a preconception plan to ensure the healthiest pregnancy possible. The process may include:

  • Controlling or resolving medical conditions that could affect your pregnancy
  • Making dietary changes
  • Focusing on exercise and weight loss goals
  • Reviewing prescriptions and their effects on pregnancy
  • Adding prenatal vitamins to your daily routine

Is genetic counseling right for you?

When your ob-gyn reviews your medical and family history, they may determine your baby could have a higher than average risk of being born with certain genetic conditions or birth defects. Before conception or early in your pregnancy, your obstetrician may refer you to a genetic counselor.

What to expect from genetic counseling

The genetic counselors at Novant Health are specialists who will discuss your medical and family history in more detail, present genetic testing options and thoroughly explain your test results.

Reasons for genetic counseling referrals

Your provider may recommend genetic counseling for one or more of these reasons:

  • Increased risk of chromosomal abnormality (which causes birth defects) due to:
    • Maternal age
    • A "positive" screening test
    • The presence of ultrasound findings that increase the risk of chromosomal abnormalities
  • Increased risk of a genetic disorder due to:
    • Ashkenazi Jewish heritage
    • Cajun heritage
    • Cystic fibrosis test results ("positive" in either parent)
    • Spinal muscular atrophy test results ("positive" in either parent)
  • Family history of:
    • Birth defects
    • Genetic disorders