Protecting Your Baby During and After Pregnancy

Future Mom

 

Did you know that January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month? According to the latest available statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 33 babies in the United States will be born with a birth defect. This amounts to one every four and a half minutes. Birth defects account for 1 in five infant deaths in the United States, and they can range from facial structural issues like cleft palate to spinal conditions like spina bifida

As a parent, there are things you can do during your pregnancy to minimize the risk of your baby sustaining a birth defect. Remember that you’re practicing healthy habits not only for yourself but for your baby. Here are several points to keep in mind:

  • Always wash your hands before and after preparing food to reduce the chances of a food-borne illness. Avoid certain raw foods like sprouts and undercooked meats and eggs. Also, don’t consume raw dairy or any unpasteurized cheeses.
  • Stay up to date on all vaccinations and doctor’s appointments to catch any abnormalities early.
  • Eat foods rich in folate or take a folate supplement to maintain normal levels for a pregnant woman. Low folate levels have been linked with several birth defects.
  • Avoid drugs, alcohol, and tobacco for the duration of the pregnancy.

 

Mama with baby

Although doing these things won’t guarantee that your child will not be born with a defect, it significantly improves the chances of a healthy birth. Once the baby is born, there are, obviously, things a parent can do to help the baby maintain good health too:

  • Ensure you have a good number of baby diapers and other supplies to practice good hygiene and reduce the risk of illness or infection.
  • Avoid going to functions with the baby where there may be a large amount of people. Although you probably want your baby to meet all of the new people in his or her life, wait a little while as the baby is highly susceptible to viruses. Try to stay away from shopping centers and grocery stores in the beginning as well.
  • Make sure that anyone who holds the baby has washed his or her hands and is not sick. You might want to invest in a flu shot yourself as a baby cannot receive a flu shot before he or she is six months old.
  • Maintain a regular vaccine schedule per your pediatrician’s instructions.

 

As a parent, your number one job is to protect your child, especially when they are defenseless as is the case when they are in the womb or just born. Keep these tips in mind as you learn how to properly care for the most important person in your life.

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