Having a Healthy Baby
Tips and Advice
It is important to see your doctor before you become pregnant as he/she can help you prepare your body for pregnancy.
Prenatal care is vital to your and your baby’s health and well-being. Prenatal care is simply getting good health care while you are pregnant. Get early prenatal care when you know you are pregnant. You will see your doctor regularly at first, but as the pregnancy gets closer to the delivery date, you will see your doctor more frequently. The National Women’s Health Information Center reports that babies of mothers who do not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who do get prenatal care.
There are precautions and steps you can take to keep yourself healthier and prevent possible injury to your baby.
Avoid substance abuse
These can cause long-term harm to your baby, especially during early stages of pregnancy. Your baby can be born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) if too much alcohol is consumed before and during pregnancy.
Substance abuse – drugs – can cause your child to be born:
- Addicted to drugs
- With physical or mental disabilities
- With underdeveloped organs
- Unable to breathe on his/her own
- Avoid hot tubs, saunas and x-rays.
- Don’t eat uncooked or under-cooked meats or fish.
- Stay away from chemicals and solvents.
- Avoid caffeine in your diet. Pregnant women should have no more than two servings of caffeine per day. Remember that teas, sodas and chocolate may contain caffeine.
- Check with your doctor before you take any medications during pregnancy, including over-the-counter medicines.
- Exercise and stay fit during pregnancy.
- Stop smoking both before and during pregnancy.
- Get good prenatal care through regular checkups.
- Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, grains and calcium-rich foods. Avoid high fat foods.
- Follow your doctor’s advice and keep all scheduled appointments.
For younger or older women, it is wise to take the recommended amounts of folic acid several months before becoming pregnant and several months into the pregnancy as well.
It is known that (across the general population) when folic acid is included in the diet, the number of neural tube defects is reduced. Common neural tube defects are spina bifida and anencephaly. In the U.S. in recent years, folic acid has been added to a number of breakfast cereals and enriched breads
How much folic acid should I be taking?
Women who anticipate becoming pregnant should be taking (daily) at least 400 micrograms of the B-vitamin folic acid several months before and after becoming pregnant. Folic acid pills are small and easy to swallow. Folic acid pills can be bought in the vitamin section of grocery stores, pharmacies and discount stores. If you prefer, you can get 100% of your daily folic acid intake from a daily bowl of certain cereals. Some of these cereals are Total, Product 19, Cheerios Plus and Smart Start.
Dental care during pregnancy
Women often overlook the importance of proper dental care during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, hormones rise causing gums to swell and bleed increasing the likelihood of food getting trapped in them. This irritates your gums, which can lead to severe oral issues such as gingivitis and periodontal disease. These oral infections can cause serious harm to your baby including premature birth. Actually, up to 18 out of 100 premature births are believed to be triggered by periodontal disease.
The elevated risk of dental problems during pregnancy means it’s essential to take good care of your teeth during this time. It’s recommended to brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste. Three months into your pregnancy, your baby develops teeth and the fluoride can help him or her grow strong, healthy teeth. It’s also critical during this stage to eat vitamin-rich foods, especially those containing vitamin A, C, D, and nutrients such as protein, calcium, and phosphorous.
Whitening your teeth is not recommended during pregnancy at any stage. While there is no research that identifies what it is in whitening that could be potentially hazardous to your baby, dentists believe it’s best to wait until after the baby is born. You might consider other, natural ways to whiten your teeth while pregnant.
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