January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month and we’re sharing 4 tips to help you increase your likelihood of having a healthy baby.
Per the CDC, birth defects, or congenital abnormalities, affect 1 in 33 children. They can be functional or structural, and they are not always preventable. Birth defects can happen at any stage in the pregnancy, but often occur during the first three months when organs are being developed. That said, there are a few things mothers can do to decrease the likelihood of a birth defect.
1) 400 micrograms of folic acid every day
In the exciting months before you start trying to conceive and during your pregnancy, begin upping your folic acid intake. Supplements and fortified foods are the best way to do this. Talk with your doctor about ways to get this B vitamin in your diet.
2) See your doctor and stay up to date with common vaccines & the flu shot
It is essential to see your doctor throughout your pregnancy. When trying to conceive you should talk with a medical professional about diet and nutrition, medications you are taking, and any health concerns. Continue to see an obstetrician throughout your pregnancy.
You can get your flu shot at any point during your pregnancy. The whooping cough vaccine is often recommended during the last three months of pregnancy. Vaccines keep you and your baby healthy.
3) Choose a healthy lifestyle
It’s important to stay active and maintain a healthy diet during pregnancy. Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy are all great options.
4) Avoid harmful substances
Steer clear of alcohol and tobacco. There is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink while pregnant. Additionally, smoking can cause major health issues for you and your baby. Avoid marijuana and other drugs.
In addition to these four tips, maintaining a healthy weight and, if diagnosed, managing your diabetes before conception will increase your likelihood of a healthy baby. Remember to drink plenty of water, avoid overheating, and treat fevers immediately. For more information, check out the CDC website on Birth Defects.