Articles and Topics
Prenatal Health History
Your first prenatal health visit will be a chance for you to get to know your doctor or midwife, and to supply essential information that can enhance your medical care. Being prepared for this visit can be quite helpful. Bring copies of important medical records, learn about your family's medical history, and write down pertinent details about your health.

A typical prenatal health history checklist to have at this first visit includes the following:

1. Personal medical history. Allergies, childhood illnesses, past medical conditions, chronic illnesses (such as asthma, diabetes, seizures, hypertension), and hospitalizations.

2. Surgical history. Major or minor surgical procedures, anesthetic usage, and major accidents.

3. Medication. Recently and currently used prescription and non-prescription drugs (including topical creams or lotions), herbs, homeopathic preparations, vitamins and other supplements.

4. Lifestyle. Dietary habits or restrictions, pre-pregnancy weight, recreational and sports activities.

5. Health risks. Smoking, drug or alcohol use, environmental and occupational exposures to chemicals or radiation, psychological and social stressors, past or current psychological problems including depression, history of eating disorders, history of sexual abuse or domestic violence.

6. Past obstetric history. Outcome of all prior pregnancies (including miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, induced abortion), obstetric complications (such as preterm labor, gestational diabetes, hypertension), birth interventions (such as forceps, cesarean section, use of anesthesia), any post-partum complications (including hemorrhage or infection).

7. Past gynecologic history. Menstrual pattern, history of reproductive organ problems such as fibroids, ovarian cysts, pelvic infections, cervical dysplasia and descriptions of treatments or surgery obtained for these conditions.

8. Current pregnancy. First day of last menstrual period, date of first positive pregnancy test, symptoms during this pregnancy including uterine cramping, vaginal bleeding, vaginal discharge, infections, rashes or other illnesses.

9. Infectious disease history. Includes herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia, bacterial vaginosis, trichomonas, vaginal yeast, syphilis, hepatitis, HIV and childhood infectious diseases.

10. Genetic histories of both parents. Personal or family history of mental retardation or developmental delay, neural tube defects, congenital abnormalities (such as cleft palate, heart defects), blood disorders (including sickle cell anemia, thalassemia), and other diseases such as cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, neurofibromatosis, Huntington's disease, PKU, and Tay-Sach's disease. Your age and ethnic background will influence recommendations for screening tests: Tay-Sach's for Ashkenazi Jewish or French-Canadian descent, Canavan's disease screening for Ashkenazi Jewish descent, sickle cell screen for African or African-American heritage in either partner, and chromosomal testing if you are over 35 years old.

Providing this level of detail about your health history will guide your practitioner in your prenatal health care, allowing her to provide suitable counseling and education, obtain appropriate prenatal tests, and anticipate difficulties that could arise. You'll be giving your pregnancy the best opportunity for a healthy outcome.
Laura E. Stachel M.D. Obstetrician & Gynecologist