A Message for Moms-To-Be
January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month. In an effort to help raise awareness of birth defects, their causes, and how they impact entire families, the Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law Firm encourages women and families to take the following steps to help assure their “baby on the way” will begin a happy and healthy life.
BEFORE YOU BECOME PREGNANT
Folic Acid – A Key Prenatal Vitamin
Folic acid is a B-complex vitamin. Women who have enough folic acid in their bodies at least a month before – then during – pregnancy, can help prevent major birth defects of their baby’s developing brain and spine. Folic acid is found in fortified foods (e.g. leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, beans, cereals) or supplements, or a combination of the two. (More about folic acid)
See your doctor regularly.
A woman who plans on becoming pregnant should see her doctor and start prenatal care as soon as she thinks that she is pregnant, if not before. It is important to see an OB/GYN doctor regularly during pregnancy, so keep all prenatal healthcare appointments. Even if you are just thinking about having a baby, it’s not too early to get ready for your pregnancy. Use these checklists to help write down and prioritize your goals.
Avoid harmful substances such as:
- Alcohol in a woman’s bloodstream passes to the developing baby through the umbilical cord. All types of alcohol are equally harmful, including wine and beer. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and a wide range of lifelong physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities.
- Cigarette smoking offers many dangers during pregnancy, such as certain birth defects, including cleft lip or cleft palate, low birth weight, and infant death. Being around tobacco smoke puts a woman and her fetus at risk. Quit smoking before getting pregnant or if you are pregnant quit now!
- Marijuana and other drugs: Pregnant women who use marijuana or other drugs often have pre-term (early birth) babies with low birth weight or other health problems and birth defects. Women using marijuana for medical reasons should speak with their doctor about alternative therapies. (More about alcohol, smoking, and drugs during pregnancy)
- Infections can be very harmful to a baby in utero. Some, such as measles, chicken pox, and even the flu, cause a variety of harmful birth defects. Here are some tips for preventing infections before and during pregnancy.
COMMIT TO A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
- Control diabetes – Failing to control diabetes during pregnancy increases the chances for birth defects and serious complications for the mother.
- Maintain a healthy weight – Women with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher before pregnancy run a higher risk of complications during pregnancy and increase the risk of serious birth defects. Even if a woman is not actively planning a pregnancy, she should talk with her doctor about ways to reach a healthy weight before getting pregnant.
MEDICATIONS & VACCINATIONS
- Certain medications can cause serious birth defects if taken during pregnancy. Some are needed to treat serious conditions. If a woman is pregnant or planning a pregnancy, she should not stop taking prescribed medications, or start taking new ones, without first talking with her healthcare provider. This includes prescription, over-the-counter medications, dietary supplements, and herbal remedies.
- Most vaccinations are safe during pregnancy. Some vaccinations, such as the flu vaccine and the DTaP vaccine (diphtheria, adult tetanus, and acellular pertussis), are recommended during pregnancy. More about vaccinations during pregnancy
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