Eat Right: Proper nutrition is very important for pregnant women and their unborn babies. Take Extra Folic Acid: It is recommended that pregnant women should consume 400 micrograms of folic acid per day to prevent birth defects. Stop Smoking: Do not smoke while you’re pregnant and always avoid situations where you’ll be exposed to secondhand smoke. Avoid Stress: Stress is detrimental to the human body, so it’s no secret that pregnant women should avoid it.
The surge of positive emotions that come along with a positive pregnancy test can be overwhelming. Along with the shock and happiness, the first thing that would resonate to any mother would be about the safety of the baby. Since, we live in a world full of toxins, and making appropriate food choices isn’t always easy or straightforward. Once you’re carrying another human life within you, making the best choices for health is of optimal importance. Following are seven ways to naturally prevent birth defects which will help pregnant women progress with confidence armed with this knowledge.
1. Eat Right
Proper nutrition is very important for pregnant women and their unborn babies. Rather than focusing on a few healthy foods, it’s better for pregnant women to eat a variety of wholesome food choices from every group. Certain foods should be avoided, as they are known to be unsafe during pregnancy, such as large amounts of tuna, deli meat and soft cheeses. Furthermore, women with body mass indexes greater than 30 are at an increased risk for problems, including birth defects.
2. Take Extra Folic Acid
It is recommended that pregnant women consume 400 micrograms of folic acid per day. Folic acid is usually found in prenatal vitamins, but is also found in a variety of foods such as the following:
• Citrus fruits
• Dark, leafy greens
• Brussel sprouts
• Beans and lentils
• Seeds and nuts
3. Stop Smoking
Do not smoke while you’re pregnant, and always avoid situations where you’ll be exposed to secondhand smoke. Smoking will increase your baby’s heart rate, lower the amount of his or her available oxygen and increase the risk of birth defects.
4. Maintain a Sober Lifestyle
It is a fact that more than 4 percent of pregnant women actively abuse substances, leading to the death of or birth defects in many babies. Maintaining sobriety is a vital part of lessening the chances of birth defects, and doing so will drastically decrease your baby’s risk.
5. Lower Your Exposure to Chemicals
Avoid cleaning materials, paint, contact with unknown or foreign substances or lead. There are many chemicals in which we don’t know the exposure risks associated with contact. Even if there are no studies confirming the risk of exposure to a certain chemical, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and avoid contact with anything harsh.
Another chemical you probably come into contact with regularly without even thinking about it is PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, found in the nonstick coating of pots, pans, and other cooking equipment. When this coating gets old or is scratched, the nonstick coating can flake off into your food. An easy way to eliminate your risk of ingesting Teflon is to completely replace your pots and pans with those made from a safe material, like ceramic.
6. Discuss the Health of Your Partner
It’s wise to think about the health of your partner before conceiving, according to new research. Childhood cancers, learning disorders and birth defects have all been linked to the health of a man’s sperm, so now – more than ever before – a healthy pregnancy is a joint effort.
7. Avoid Stress
Stress is detrimental to the human body, so it’s no secret that pregnant women should avoid it. There are many safe ways of engaging in stress relief during pregnancy, such as counseling, prenatal yoga or a prenatal massage.
As January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, now is the appropriate time for a rich discussion about ways we can continually work to minimize birth defects. Pregnant women in today’s society are often faced with unwanted advice from mothers from previous generations, but there is one thing we should all be able to agree on – any decrease in the number of birth defects is positive.