Planning a pregnancy? A quick guide on what doctor to see and when to see them.
April 14, 2021
When it takes longer than expected to start your family, you can’t wait to start expecting. But whether you are preparing for your first child, or planning for an addition to your family, there are questions all future parents might have about who can help them on their fertility journey. Let’s break it down by where you are on this journey.
Thinking about getting pregnant.
Even before you start trying to conceive, you should visit your doctor to ensure you'll have the healthiest pregnancy possible. Usually, you can begin this discussion with your family medicine or primary care doctor, or your ob/gyn if you already have one.
What you need to know and what your doctor wants to know. If you are ready to start or expand your family, schedule a pre-conception visit with your doctor about three months in advance. They will want to discuss your health history and any medical conditions you currently have that could affect conception or pregnancy. Your doctor will also give you advice for a forming a healthy pregnancy.
In addition to answering questions, think of this appointment as an “ask me anything” session to pick your doctor’s brains. This is the time for you to ask any questions that you might be having, like how long should it take to get pregnant, should you be taking supplements, should your husband switch to jockey shorts! There are no dumb questions at this meeting. Tip: Write down the questions beforehand so you don’t forget anything!
Difficulty getting pregnant.
If you’ve been trying to conceive for a year with no results (or six months if you’re over age 35), you’re likely dealing with infertility. Your doctor will assess you and your partner to determine the cause of infertility or refer you to a specialist. There are some general guidelines on when to seek additional medical advice and from whom to seek that advice.
A visit to an Ob/Gyn is generally the first stop in the fertility treatment journey. If:
- You are under 35 years old and have been trying for at least one year.
- You are older than 35 years and have been trying for six months.
If other treatment methods have been unsuccessful for you, you might want to consider seeing a fertility specialist instead. A fertility specialist has completed three years of specialized training with an approved reproductive endocrinology fellowship program in addition to an Ob/Gyn residency.
Reasons to see a fertility specialist:
- You’ve had more than one miscarriage.
- You have irregular or painful menstrual cycles, or you have a hard time tracking your ovulation.
- You or your partner had or have an STD.
- You or your partner are overweight or underweight.
- Your age.
- You are concerned you or your partner may have a medical issue that may be affecting your ability to get pregnant.
Congratulations, you’re pregnant.
Once you become pregnant, how soon do you need to see a doctor? Rule of thumb is that you should make an appointment with your ob/gyn within eight weeks of your last menstrual period. Remember that if you’ve been pregnant before, every pregnancy and every baby is different. That’s why starting out with the best care, and following your doctor’s advice for prenatal care, including regular appointments, is critical to the health of both you and your baby.
What will your Ob/Gyn help you with?
- Calculating your due date.
- Any potential hereditary, health-related, or age-related pregnancy risk factors.
- Your family health history.
- Your best schedule of prenatal care.
A doctor for the baby.
Now that you’ve accomplished your pregnancy, it’s time to start thinking about a doctor for your unborn child! A good time to start looking for a pediatrician is about three months before your baby is due. Ask for recommendations from relatives, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and of course, your own doctor. A few things to keep in mind are:
- Location of the pediatrician’s office—is it convenient to your home, work, or your child’s daycare or school?
- Continuity of care--are there same-day and after-hours availability?
- Group or solo practice--Are there other pediatricians available to see your child when your pediatrician is not available?
- Connectivity--Is there a patient portal with the ability to message your child’s doctor, nurse, book appointments, and view medical records online any time?
Planning, conceiving, giving birth, and raising a child is exciting and terrifying! Seeking out the right medical care at the right time can make you feel comforted, in control, and cared for. One final tip for expectant families is to try to find a healthcare team that connects to each other and that can grow with the needs of your family--from stretch marks to diaper rash and all the bumps and bruises in between. Building strong families means working together with your doctors to make sure your care is coordinated and connected.
At Austin Regional Clinic, we focus on all aspects of natal care - family practice, pediatrics, ob/gyn, endocrinology. At ARC we stress connection and coordination, along with prevention, evidence-based treatment, same-day access, and long-term doctor/patient relationships. Our family includes board-certified pediatricians at 20 different locations in Central Texas. We’d love to meet YOUR family.
Book an appointment today and let’s talk about next steps for your family.