Make Healthy Choices to Prevent Birth Defects

expecting mothers It goes without saying that expecting mothers want the best for their forthcoming child and are willing to do anything to ensure their newborn arrives happy and healthy. January marks National Birth Defects Prevention Month, which aims to raise awareness that birth defects are “common, costly and critical,” but with actionable steps, expecting mothers and the public can help to prevent them. According to statistics, a baby is born with a major birth defect in the United States every 4.5 minutes. While not all defects can be prevented, there are things expectant mothers can do to reduce the risk, and it all comes down to healthy choices.

Here are some healthy habits that moms-to-be can practice to boost the health of their growing baby!

Visit the Doctor

Women should schedule their first prenatal visit with their healthcare provider as soon as they discover they are expecting. The first visit will introduce pregnant moms to a healthcare professional who will aid them through the whole pregnancy and will provide a thorough check up. Following the initial visit, expecting mothers can anticipate having at least 10 or more prenatal visits throughout the pregnancy, which can consist of ultrasounds, blood work and progress reports. It’s vital to keep health care practitioners or doctors in the loop throughout pregnancy, as they can identify possible issues with the baby before birth, and may even be able to provide treatments to resolve the problem.

Quit Bad Habits

Drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes and taking drugs can drastically affect the health of your baby and should stop immediately. Alcohol rapidly reaches your baby via blood stream and the placenta, and it increases the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome, a risk factor for a number of birth defects, and even death. Smoking during pregnancy also carries extreme health risks – it doubles the chances of a premature delivery, makes the baby two times as likely to have a low birth weight, and also makes stillbirth twice as likely.

Eat Well

During pregnancy, you will want to eat a well-balanced diet that is rich in vital nutrients and vitamins. While some may say you are “eating for two,” you’re really just supplementing the amount of energy you’ll need throughout the day, which is why you should eat plenty of protein, fruits and vegetables. The American Pregnancy Association outlines a number of foods and drinks to avoid while pregnant because some may contain bacteria and other things that can harm the development of your unborn baby. Things to steer clear of include:

  • Unpasteurized Milk
  • Caffeine
  • Raw eggs
  • Raw seafood
  • Deli meat
  • Raw/undercooked meat


Take Prenatal Vitamins

Sometimes during your prenatal visit, your doctor may recommend taking vitamin supplements to aid in the intake of proper nutrients. Consult with your physician about the kinds of vitamins you can take to help your baby get the supplements it needs. Many experts recommend getting 400 mcg of folic acid because it reduces the risk of your baby developing a neural tube defect.

While you make these healthy choices, keep in mind that you’ll need to prepare to welcome your newborn and have everything ready at home for their arrival. This includes a crib, overnight diapers, cleansing wipes, bottles, clothes and more!

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