Birth defects can occur for many reasons. Although not all birth defects can be prevented, people can increase their chances of having a healthy baby by managing conditions and adopting healthy behaviors before becoming pregnant. Here are some steps you can take to prepare for pregnancy, awareness during pregnancy, and give your baby a healthy start in life:
Take 400 Micrograms (Mcg) Of Folic Acid Every Day
Folic acid is a B vitamin. If a woman has enough folic acid in her body for at least 1 month before and during pregnancy, it can help prevent serious birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine ( anencephaly and spinal cord). bifida ). Women can get folic acid from fortified foods or supplements, or a combination of the two, in addition to a folate-rich diet. More information on folic acid.
Some infections that women can get during pregnancy can be harmful to the developing baby and can even cause birth defects. Take a look at our 10 tips to prevent infections before and during pregnancy.
- Women who are pregnant or who were recently pregnant are more likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19 compared to those who are not pregnant. Vaccination against COVID-19 is recommended for everyone 12 years of age and older, including those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant, or may become pregnant in the future. Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 during pregnancy can protect you from getting seriously ill. If you have questions about vaccination, a discussion with your health care professional may help, but is not required before you get vaccinated.
See A Health Professional Regularly
Be sure to see your doctor when planning a pregnancy and start prenatal care as soon as possible. It is important that you see your doctor throughout your pregnancy. Keeping all prenatal care appointments, including telemedicine appointments, should be a priority.
Consult A Health Care Provider About Taking Any Medication
Certain medications can cause serious birth defects if taken during pregnancy. If a woman is pregnant or planning a pregnancy she should first talk with her health care provider before stopping or starting any medication.
Talk To A Health Care Provider About Immunizations (Shots)
Most vaccines are safe during pregnancy, and some, such as the influenza vaccine and Tdap (for adults against tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis), are specifically recommended during pregnancy. Learn about vaccination during pregnancy and learn more about COVID-19 vaccines while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Keep Diabetes Under Control
Diabetes that is not under control can increase the chance of birth defects and other problems during pregnancy. To manage diabetes, see your health care provider as recommended before and during your pregnancy. Also, monitor your blood sugar levels, follow a healthy eating plan created with your health care provider or dietitian, or nutritionist, be physically active, and take insulin as directed. Learn more about managing type 1 and type 2 diabetes during pregnancy, as well as gestational diabetes.
Avoid Alcohol At All Times During Pregnancy
Alcohol in a woman’s bloodstream passes to her developing baby through the umbilical cord. Alcohol use during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and a range of disabilities. As far as is known, there is no amount of alcohol that is safe to consume during pregnancy or while trying to conceive. There is also no time during pregnancy when it is safe to drink alcohol. All types of alcohol are equally harmful, including all wines and beers. Learn more about alcohol use and pregnancy.
Avoid Smoking Cigarettes
The dangers of smoking during pregnancy include premature birth, certain birth defects ( cleft lip or palate ), and death of the baby. It is best to stop smoking before you get pregnant. For women who are already pregnant, quitting smoking as soon as possible can still help protect against some health problems in the baby, such as low birth weight. It’s never too late to quit smoking. More information on smoking during pregnancy.
Avoid Marijuana And Other Drugs
Marijuana use during pregnancy may be linked to low birth weight in babies. To the best of our knowledge, there is no amount of marijuana that is safe to use during pregnancy. Women who are pregnant or considering pregnancy should not use marijuana, even in states where it is legal. Women who use marijuana for medical reasons should talk to their health care provider about using an alternative therapy that is safe for pregnant women. Learn more about substance use during pregnancy.
Avoid Overheating The Body And Treat Fever Promptly
During pregnancy, women should avoid overheating the body and treat fever promptly. Overheating can be caused by a fever or exposure to high temperatures (such as when using a hot tub), which increases the core temperature. Overheating the body can increase the chance of having a baby with certain birth defects.
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