A Healthy Pregnancy Checklist - Before You Get Pregnant
A healthy pregnancy requires some preventive medical maintenance before becoming pregnant to ensure that both the pregnant mother and her developing baby have a safe and healthy pregnancy. Listed below is a healthy pregnancy checklist that will alert you to five primary points that you should check-off before checking-in a baby border for the next nine months in your uterus.
- Take 400 micrograms of folic acid no later than one month before attempting to get pregnant—Folic acid is a B vitamin supplement necessary for new cell growth. Studies have shown that folic acid plays an important role in preventing birth defects such as anencephaly and spina bifida in the brains and spines of developing babies by as much as 50%-70%. The recommended daily allowance of folic acid is 400μg (micrograms).
- An easy and healthy source of folic acid is in some common brands of cereal such as Multi-Grain Cheerios®, Raisin Bran, Special K®, Quaker® Oats and even a variety of Cap’n Crunch cereals. Just be sure to check that the cereal supplement label for serving size and % Daily Value states 400μg or “100%” next to the folic acid label.
Take care of pre-existing medical problems/conditions—Diabetes during pregnancy increases the chances of birth defects and other problems for the baby as well as cause serious complications for the mother. High blood pressure is another condition that if left untreated before and during a pregnancy can lead to heart damage and disease, as well as an increased risk of a stroke and other complications. See your doctor about how to treat your diabetes before and during a pregnancy. In addition, have your blood pressure monitored regularly before and during a pregnancy to alert your doctor should a complication develop unnoticed.
- Stop smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol—Smoking and alcohol rate among the most common factors in incidences associated with poor pregnancies and birth defects. Smoking in associated with infertility, miscarriages, placenta rupture and excessive hemorrhaging, premature birth, decreased birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), cleft lip and cleft palate. In addition, try to limit your exposure to people who smoke. Women who are exposed to second hand smoke are more likely to have babies who are underweight than women who are not exposed to second hand smoke during their pregnancy.
Contrary to public perception, drinking any type of alcohol at any time during a pregnancy is not safe for an unborn baby. Alcohol passes not only through your kidneys, but also through the placenta and directly to a baby’s bloodstream and developing nervous system. The danger of drinking alcohol while not on birth control is that a baby may be adversely affected by the alcohol before the mother learns she is pregnant and stops drinking. Drinking during a pregnancy can result in abnormal facial features, an unusually small head, low birth weight, poor coordination, hyperactivity disorders, learning disabilities, vision and hearing problems, malformations of the lungs and heart, as well as numerous other disorders.