Pregnancy is an exciting and challenging time for parents, regardless of how much planning is involved. And when your baby is born, new obstacles present themselves. Although many of these learning experiences are expected, illness is one everyone hopes to avoid. A cough here and a cold there is normal, but some medical conditions are very serious. Mayo Clinic Health System obstetrician & gynecologist Javier Cardenas, M.D., shares steps you can take before and after birth to help your baby be the healthiest he or she can be.
- Folic acid. Are you planning a pregnancy? Or maybe you’re not necessarily trying to become pregnant but know it’s a possibility. Either way, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that women consume 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid each day. Folic acid helps prevent brain and spine birth defects. These problems occur during the first few weeks of pregnancy, a time period during which many parents are unaware of conception. Getting enough folic acid from a regular diet is challenging, so supplements are encouraged.
- Smoking cessation. Refraining from smoking before and during pregnancy is a must. Smoking has harmful effects on fetal development. If you do smoke, talk to your health care provider about quitting.
- Diet. Make sure you’re eating a healthy diet. Consume plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean sources of protein.
- Your body. Being underweight or overweight is not ideal for pregnancy, so your health care provider may want you to address your weight before becoming pregnant. Additionally, get regular physical activity and minimize daily stresses. Avoid alcohol, illegal drugs and toxic chemicals.