Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy and a Healthy Baby
It’s natural to want to have a healthy pregnancy. It’s National Birth Defects Awareness Month, a time when we work together to increase understanding and prevention of birth defects. This issue is an important one, as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 1 in every 33 babies in the United States is born with a birth defect every year, and they account for 20 percent of all infant deaths.
Birth defects can be common and, at times, very serious. Babies with birth defects often live with the effects throughout their adolescence and into adulthood, and these issues can also be quite costly. While many factors can cause birth defects, from genetic abnormalities to environmental exposure, there are ways you can keep your baby healthy during your pregnancy.
What causes birth defects?
Birth defects can happen anytime throughout pregnancy and are often identified before birth, during delivery, or a year or two after your baby is born. Some defects are inherited through family genes, while others can be caused by an infection, exposure to chemicals, or unknown factors. Birth defects can also be caused by alcohol, smoking, or drug use during pregnancy.
These defects can vary greatly and affect your baby’s physical and mental development. Significant defects can potentially shorten your child’s lifespan and impact their way of life. While we can’t prevent every kind of birth defect from happening, a healthy and mindful lifestyle during pregnancy can significantly reduce your baby’s risk.
By following best practices for maintaining a healthy pregnancy, you can help prevent birth defects in your child. Getting the proper nutrition, regular checkups with your doctor, and avoiding harmful substances are all ways you can protect your baby while they are developing.
You might already know about some precautions, like avoiding alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. However, some less apparent recommendations can be just as important. For example, a deficiency in folic acid can cause birth defects that could affect both your baby’s brain and spine. Certain foods can also be incredibly harmful to your baby.
Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy
To keep both you and your baby healthy while pregnant and to prevent the likelihood of birth defects, we recommend following these essential tips:
- Maintain a healthy weight during your pregnancy
- Eat a balanced, nutritious diet
- Don’t smoke, drink alcohol, or use street drugs (including marijuana)
- Take a daily prenatal vitamin that includes folic acid
- Get regular checkups with your OBGYN
- Schedule screening and diagnostic tests as recommended by your doctor
- Stay up-to-date with your vaccines to prevent infection and to build immunity in your baby
- Check with your doctor before taking any kind of medication
- Avoid foods that can harm your baby, like raw or undercooked fish, meat, or eggs
- If you have diabetes, make sure you stay active and keep blood sugar levels under control
- Drink lots of water
Here at Rainbow Pediatrics, we understand how troubling and difficult it can be when a child experiences birth defects. But with a healthy lifestyle, daily vitamins, and regular visits to your doctor, you can help keep your baby safe and enjoy a healthy pregnancy.
For additional information about birth defects and how they can affect your baby, visit the CDC’s webpage to learn more.