Are you thinking about getting pregnant? Planning ahead for the pregnancy will not only save your life but also your baby’s life.
According to Centre for Disease Control (CDC), not all birth defects can be prevented, but a woman can take some actions that increase her chance of having a healthy baby.
Many birth defects happen very early in pregnancy, sometimes before a woman even knows she is pregnant. Remember that about half of all pregnancies are unplanned.
Below are CDC’s guidelines for safety during pregnancy dubbed “ABC’s...Pregnancy Tips (A-Z)”
A - Avoid exposure to toxic substances and chemicals --- such as cleaning solvents, lead and mercury, some insecticides, and paint. Pregnant women should avoid exposure to paint fumes.
B Be sure to see your doctor and get prenatal care as soon as you think you are pregnant. It’s important to see your doctor regularly throughout pregnancy, so be sure to keep all your prenatal care appointments.
Breastfeeding is the healthiest choice for both you and your baby. Talk to your doctor, your family and friends, and your employer about how you choose to feed your baby and how they can support you in your decision.
C Cigarette smoking during pregnancy increases the chances of premature birth, certain birth defects, and infant death. Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely than other women to have a miscarriage and to have a baby born with a cleft lip or cleft palate--types of birth defects.
Smoking is one of the causes of problems with the placenta and can cause a baby to be born too early and have low birth weight. Smoking is also one of the causes of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
D Drink extra fluids (water is best) throughout pregnancy to help your body keep up with the increases in your blood volume. Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water, fruit juice, or milk each day.
A good way to know you are drinking enough fluid is when your urine looks like almost-clear water or is very light yellow.
E Eat healthy to get the nutrients you and your unborn baby need. Your meals should include the five basic food groups. Each day you should get the following: 6-11 servings of grain products, 3-5 servings of vegetables, 2-4 servings of fruits,
4-6 servings of milk and milk products, 3-4 servings of meat and protein foods. Foods low in fat and high in fiber are important to a healthy diet.
F Take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily both before pregnancy and during the first few months of pregnancy to reduce the risk of birth defects of the brain and spine.
All women who could possibly become pregnant should take a vitamin with folic acid, every day.
It is also important to eat a healthy diet with fortified foods (enriched grain products, including cereals, rice, breads, and pastas) and foods with natural sources of folate (orange juice, green leafy vegetables, beans, peanuts, broccoli and peas.
G Genetic testing should be done appropriately. It’s important to know your family history. If there have been problems with pregnancies or birth defects in your family, report these to your doctor.
H Hand-washing is important throughout the day, especially after handling raw meat or using the bathroom. This can help prevent the spread of many bacteria and viruses that cause infection.
I Take 30 milligrams of iron during your pregnancy as prescribed by your doctor to reduce the risk of anemia later in pregnancy. All women of childbearing age should eat a diet rich in iron.
J Join a support group for moms to be, or join a class on parenting or childbirth.
K Know your limits. Let your physician know if you experience any of the following: pain of any kind of complications such as strong cramps, uterine contractions at 20-minute intervals, vaginal bleeding.
L Legal drugs such as alcohol and caffeine are important issues for pregnant women. There is no known safe amount of alcohol a woman can drink while pregnant.
M Medical conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy, and high blood pressure should be treated and kept under control. Ask your doctor about any medications that may need to be changed or adjusted during pregnancy.
N Now is the time to baby-proof your home. These are important tips for making your home a safer environment for your baby.
O Over-the-counter cough and cold remedies may contain alcohol or other ingredients that should be avoided during pregnancy. Look out for P- Z ( Pregnancy safety tips in the next issue of Woman 2 Woman!