What is Best for you…is Best for Baby – 5 Tips to Help Prevent Birth Defects

Giving your child the best life possible all starts with having a healthy pregnancy. We are teaming up with the March of Dimes and the CDC to promote Birth Defect Prevention Month. A month-long event in which March of Dimes and the CDC help spread their knowledge to women, families, and healthcare providers about actions that can be taken to prevent birth defects.

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. 

While some birth defects just cannot be prevented, there are many things within a mother’s control that can help foster an environment leading to a healthy full-term pregnancy and, the best end result of all, a thriving baby. There are 5 essential tips on making healthy choices recommended by the March of Dimes and the CDC;  we would have to say we strongly agree with them all and are so thankful to live in modern times with all this information at our fingertips about pregnancy.

What is Best for you…is Best for Baby – 5 Tips to Help Prevent Birth Defects

What to Know About Birth Defects

While pregnancy is undeniably exciting, it can also be pretty darn scary. Something that commonly worries moms are birth defects, and much of this worry comes from not knowing what can be done to prevent them or where they come from. There are many different birth defects in varying levels of severity. The majority of birth defects have unknown causes, others are genetic, but around 10% are caused from poor nutrition or traceable reasons like drugs. It is important to get all the prenatal care you need and take care of yourself to give your baby the best chance possible at life.

5 Tips to Prevent Birth Defects

See your health care provider for a pre-pregnancy checkup.

If you are planning a pregnancy there are many things you can do to give yourself and baby a head start. The first step is you can actually schedule a pre-pregnancy checkup with your doctor. They can answer any questions you have and give you tips to properly prepare. It is important to discuss all your medications, including both prescription and over-the-counter medicines and any vitamins and supplements you might be taking or should be taking.

Get to a Healthy Weight 

Other than planning a visit with the doctor, you can prepare by getting into a healthy routine. Creating a new life is no walk in the park, but getting your body in mind in a healthy place before it gets too hard can ease so many obstacles. This tip goes along with thinking ahead and means you should eat healthy and get into an exercise routine. It is very important to be at a healthy weight before you get pregnant.

If you are in the routine of eating healthy and make a habit of exercising, it will be easier to continue these habits throughout pregnancy. The healthier you are the higher the chances your baby will be healthy as well.

In addition, it is also extremely important to practice staying hydrated. Dehydration can actually lead neural tube defects and other birth defects. Take into account how much you are drinking daily and watch for any signs of dehydration.

Make Sure All Vaccinations Are Up to Date

It is very important that you and the rest of your family are up to date on vaccinations to prevent harmful diseases. This will help protect your baby immediately after they are born as well. Your doctor will be able to advise you on which vaccinations you will need to have up to date and additional options like the flu shot and the pertussis booster. If you have other children, you will definitely want to make sure they receive these additional vaccinations as well to help prevent the spread of any possible diseases.

Take a vitamin supplement containing 400 micrograms of folic acid every day, even before you become pregnant.

You need all the support you can get in creating a healthy baby, so vitamins are totally essential. Folic acid can prevent serious birth defects in the brain and spine which usually develop very early in pregnancy, so you will want to begin taking it as soon as you are pregnant, even before if possible. If you are taking a prenatal vitamin, it should have folic acid. Just make sure you are getting 400 micrograms daily.

You can also eat foods that are high in folic acid.  Good food choices are things like leafy greens, beans, and orange juice. March of Dimes and the CDC also recommends pasta, bread, cereals, and even tamales. 

Don’t Smoke, Drink, or do any drugs while pregnant!

  • 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:
    • gov (1-800-QUIT-NOW);
    • National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence,
      (800) 622-2255;
    • Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator,
      (800) 662-4357.

For tips and more information, visit CDC’s website at cdc.gov or March of Dimes at marchofdimes.org or nacersano.org. Visit shareyourstory.org for comfort and support. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

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