Pregnancy is the one time in my life where I feel that I am always over the top about everything. Whether
This January the March of Dimes, the leading nonprofit for the health of moms and babies, is observing Birth Defects Prevention Month (BDP Month). This annual event is when the March of Dimes partners with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention to generate awareness among women of childbearing age, families and health care providers about actions they can take to help prevent birth defects.
There is no doubt that one of the best things that you can do is to make healthy choices before and during pregnancy to ensure the health of your baby.
Did you know?
Birth defects affect about 1 in every 33 babies born in the United States each year (120,000 babies) and are a major cause of infant death and lifelong disability. We know that not all birth defects can be prevented. But we also know about things that can help increase a woman’s chances of having a healthy, full-term pregnancy and a healthy baby.
5 Tips to a Healthy Pregnancy
There are a few basic things that all women can do before pregnancy to ensure they are helping to aid in having a healthy pregnancy and baby.
Schedule regular visits with your provider.
See your health care provider for a pre-pregnancy checkup. Be sure to discuss all your medications, including both prescription and over-the-counter medicines and any vitamins and supplements.
Take at least 400mcg of folic acid daily, before pregnancy
I will admit, this was one of the harder things for me to do, but I knew I had to make a conscious effort to do so. When taken before and in the first weeks of pregnancy, folic acid, a B vitamin, is proven to help prevent serious birth defects of the brain and spine. You can also eat foods that contain folate in its natural forms like lentils, green leafy vegetables, black beans, and orange juice. March of Dimes also recommends foods made from enriched grain flour, such as bread, pasta and cereals; and foods made from enriched corn masa flour, such as cornbread, corn tortillas, tacos and tamales.
Get at and maintain a healthy weight
I know this can be easier said than done, but it’s important. Starting before pregnancy can help combat issues during pregnancy, and most certaintly during the postpartum period.
Stay up-to-date on vaccinations
Make sure you have all of the necessary boosters and that you have all of the necessary vaccines. It’s also a good idea to make sure close family members have theirs as well.
Do not smoke, drink or use drugs during pregnancy
It’s a given that none of these should be done during pregnancy, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen. However, while this is the most important aspect during pregnancy, it is while trying to conceive as well. Here are a few things to consider:
- Smoking during pregnancy can cause dangerous chemicals to damage the placenta and/or reach the baby’s bloodstream.
- No amount of alcohol has been proven safe during pregnancy, and its use can cause major birth defects.
- Opioid use in pregnancy can cause neonatal abstinence syndrome
(NAS) and premature birth in babies.
- If you need help to quit, talk to your health care provider or contact: -Smokefree.gov (1-800-QUIT-NOW);
-National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence,
-Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator,
Love of impromptu dance parties, 80’s cartoons, and horizontal life pauses (aka naps); Natasha Brown is a stay at home mom of 4 kids, and wife to one lucky guy! In her spare time, she is co-editor of Grits & Grace, as well as editor for The Mother Hustler Blog and Creative Director for the Mother Hustler podcast.