When a woman is considering having a child, she and the prospective father should consult with their healthcare practitioner(s). Based on the family and medical histories of the biological parents, certain tests may be recommended to help ensure as healthy a pregnancy as possible. These tests include genetic testing for certain inherited diseases and disorders to understand the risk of having a child with one of these and tests to detect any infections or conditions that the mother-to-be may have that could put her or her unborn baby at risk.
Couples planning a pregnancy but having difficulty conceiving can learn about tests done in the evaluation of each partner in the article on Infertility.
Testing that may be offered to the woman and her partner to evaluate the risk of inherited diseases are:
- Genetic testing for inherited diseases
Testing that may be recommended to the woman either when she is considering a pregnancy or at one of her first prenatal visits include:
- Immunity to rubella (German measles) test
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) screening test
- Gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis tests
- Pap test and HPV testing
- Hepatitis B and hepatitis C screening
- Varicella zoster virus testing
Women with special health considerations like diabetes or high blood pressure (hypertension) should have those under control before getting pregnant. Women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are strongly encouraged to have an A1c test at least 3 to 4 months before they hope to conceive. This is because diabetes-related birth defects happen early in the pregnancy, well before most prenatal visits. Having this test helps the woman identify a safe time to try to become pregnant. Conceiving when blood sugar is well controlled (and maintaining tight control during the first trimester) helps prevent birth defects and miscarriages.