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.