5 Tips-If You Want a Healthy Baby

This article is written by Dr Zeenobiyah McGowan P.H.D, an expert on women’s health and helping couples conceive naturally. Dr McGowan is a mother of one beautiful girl. She is editor-in-chief for Ovulationcalendar.com, also founded ImpactHumanity.org, a charity which helps under privileged children get the basic necessities like food and education in Kenya.

While not all birth defects can be prevented, there are precautions that women can take to improve their chances of
having a healthy newborn. If you are planning on getting pregnant, or have just found out that you are, now is a great time to get started on some healthy habits. Here are five things you should know if you want to give birth to a healthy child.

1. Folic acid supplements help prevent neural tube defects

Spina bifda is the most common neural tube defect and it literally means cleft spine. This condition is characterized by the incomplete development of the brain, spinal cord and/or the protective covering around the brain and spinal cord. A deficiency in folic acid, a common B vitamin, in the mother’s diet can increase her chances of carrying a baby with spina bifida or other neural tube defects. Since a developing fetus needs folate before the mother even knows she is pregnant, most experts recommend that all women of childbearing years take a prenatal vitamin with folic acid.

2. Food safety is essential

Listeria is a common bacterium found in our food supply, and illness caused by it can be devastating to a pregnant
woman and her developing fetus. There are certain foods you should steer clear of to avoid listeria:

– Cold deli meats and salads

– Hot dogs

– Pates and meat spreads

– Unpasteurized/ raw milk and dairy products

– Soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk, such as blue vein, feta, brie, queso fresco, and camembert

– Refrigerated smoked seafood

– Raw sprouts

3. Healthy eating habits pay off

You have probably heard the old saying that goes, “you are what you eat.” There is a lot of truth in that, and even
more so for your developing baby. He or she will become the result of what you are consuming. Try to avoid excess
sugar, processed foods, trans fats and refined starches. Instead, fill your diet with a variety of fresh fruits and
vegetables, and moderate amounts of lean proteins, low mercury fish, and complex carbohydrates.

4. Seeing a health care professional regularly is a very good idea

When you find out you are pregnant, make an appointment with your doctor or an OBGYN. They will help guide
you through your pregnancy from genetic testing through to labor, and each appointment will provide a piece of the
overall picture of your baby’s health. If you have any health issues before you get pregnant, it is crucial that you talk with your doctor about how you are feeling and what medications you are taking. Many medications are not
considered safe during pregnancy, so your doctor may need to suggest alternatives.

5. Consumption and use of alcohol, tobacco, and street drugs can have dire consequences

When you drink alcohol during pregnancy, your newborn may be born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
(FASD) which is characterized by poor growth, abnormal facial features and nervous system damage. Smoking
cigarettes can limit the amount of oxygen your baby receives, increase their heartbeat and increase your risk of having a miscarriage or stillbirth. Taking street drugs while pregnant can also have damaging effects on you and your baby, including low birth weight, increased risk of miscarriage or stillbirth, premature labor and having a baby who is born addicted. If you are addicted to any of these substances, seek help immediately.

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Pregnancy yoga meditation. Full length healthy 8 months pregnant

Clean Up your Act

You know you need to get yourself ready for children, physically and mentally and naturally making space for them in your world. You also have to consider your inner health and as many of you have discovered this is a life-long journey. To stay healthy, and fit plus if you are experiencing fertility challenges then you become more focused on what you eat and ensuring your fertility health is at its’ optimum. I know this sounds obsessive as I am sure you know someone who is overweight and they get pregnant in no time or a smoker who has super sperm! I know sometimes the balance is not in our favour. So let’s just focus on you and getting as healthy as possible.

So you feel some resentment that you need to really watch everything that you put in your mouth. Whilst others make no effort to change their lifestyle or diet and bingo they are pregnant. That is not fair. Well these are the cards you have been dealt with, and as I say, no more ‘pity party’, lets’ get healthy and stay that way!

Well these people (who get pregnant just thinking about it) maybe expecting however you will have better health and in the long term your baby will benefit too, as they say preconception care of 90 days is paramount to having a healthy baby. So you will have this and your baby will have the best start in life. You do it for your fertility health yet the entire body benefits and your future baby. Believe me this is so true, both of my children are healthy today as we make the commitment to eat well, to exercise and to de-stress.

As a bonus you will have better healthier habits and will bounce back quicker from childbirth and sleep deprivation. I know because this is what happened to me. Cleaning up my act with better diet and conscious eating gave me a stress-free pregnancy. I ate organic food, very little sugar and plenty of water. I eliminated caffeine, don’t smoke and do not eat junk foods.  I exercised 3-4 times per week not strenuous exercises, just gentle walks, mild yoga and swimming. I took my vitamins daily and made sure they were the best quality supplements. I put on enough weight and gained by pre-baby body in just a few weeks afterwards. I think breastfeeding helped a lot too, as I was constantly hungry and munching on healthy snacks.

Our babies had the best start in life and so glad I had years of preparation. It begins with you and your commitment to improving your preconception care.

It was SO WORTH it, so if you are on your TTC journey remember each healthy habit will influence your body, your pregnancy, your childbirth and your recovery.

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Fertility Diet

Your Fertility Diet

If you clean up your diet you will be healthier and your body will be in better shape to conceive and carry the baby. So write down what you currently eat, say keep a food diary for a week. Then think about if these foods help fertility. Take for example. Coffee it is known to affect fertility, so during this time you may consider drinking an alternative. If you smoke, stop. If you drink alcohol think about what journey you are embarking on, is it worth it? If you want to minimize the toxins you eat, think about going organic. If you are overweight, this will impact your chances so get moving and lose that unwanted weight.

Increase your folic acid by eating leafy green vegetables. Look at the salt you buy is it iodinated? As in Australia the majority of people do not eat enough iodine and this too impacts fertility. Nuts and seeds help with the essential fatty acids. Omega 3 oils are also a must so include salmon in your diet, or other fish (just watch those fish with high mercury levels). Citrus fruits are not only great all year round and high in Vitamin C, they also help with sperm motility and enhances ovulation. Did you know that pineapple has manganese? A mineral that activates enzymes in the body that trigger production of various reproductive hormones.

Best to have these foods in their natural form and ensure you do not overcook your vegetables. If you find this challenging getting your daily quota then also consider taking supplements to ensure your body is at its’ optimum level prior to conception. Consult your naturopath to get the right supplement brands as not all varieties on the supermarket shelf are created equal.

If you think this is too hard, then just wait until you get to the next challenge, keep in mind that the better your preconception care the healthier the pregnancy and the baby. It really starts with you.

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