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Healthy Preganancy

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Healthy Preganancy

Healthy Pregnancy Center for Disease Control (CDC)

Learn what you can do before and during pregnancy to improve your chances of having a healthy baby.

Before you get pregnant, try to reach a healthy weight.

Obesity increases the risk for several serious birth defects and other pregnancy complications. If you are underweight, overweight, or have obesity, talk with your healthcare provider about ways to reach and maintain a healthy weight before you get pregnant. Focus on a lifestyle that includes healthy eating and regular physical activity.

Be sure to take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day. Folic acid is important because it can help prevent some major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine. If you plan to or could become pregnant, you should consume 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day to ensure your baby’s proper development and growth. In addition to eating foods with folate from a varied diet, you can get folic acid from

· Taking a vitamin that has folic acid in it;

o Most vitamins sold in the United States have the recommended daily amount of folic acid (400 mcg) that you need.

o Vitamins can be found at most local pharmacy, grocery, or discount stores. Check the label on the bottle to be sure it contains 100% of the daily value of folic acid, which is 400 mcg.

o Prenatal Vitamins are a must. Your hair and nails will look beautiful as will your baby and you will be as healthy as can be.

· Eating fortified foods;

o You can find folic acid in some breads, breakfast cereals, and corn masa flour.

o Be sure to check the nutrient facts label and look for a product that has “100%” next to folate.

· Getting a combination of the two: taking a vitamin that has folic acid in it and eating fortified foods.

Become up-to-date with all vaccinations, including the flu shot. Vaccines help protect you and your developing baby against serious diseases. Get a flu shot annually and a whooping cough vaccine (also called Tdap) during each pregnancy to help protect yourself and your baby. · Flu: You can get the flu shot before or during each pregnancy. · Whooping cough: You can get the Whooping cough vaccine in the last three months of each pregnancy. COVID-19: Vaccines

Boost your health by avoiding substances that are harmful during pregnancy. · Alcohol: There is no known safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy or when trying to get pregnant. Alcohol can cause problems for a developing baby throughout pregnancy, so it’s important to stop drinking alcohol when you start trying to get pregnant and during your pregnancy. · Tobacco: Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, and other major health problems. Smoking during pregnancy can also harm the developing baby and can cause certain birth defects. Quitting smoking will help you feel better and provide a healthier environment for your baby.

· Other Drugs: Using certain drugs during pregnancy can cause health problems for a woman and her developing baby. A healthcare provider can help you with counseling, treatment, and other support services.

About one in every 33 babies is born with a birth defect. Not all birth defects can be prevented. But a woman can take steps to increase her own chance of having a baby with the best health possible.

Birth defects are common, costly, and critical conditions that affect 1 in every 33 babies born in the United States each year.1 Read more about what we

have learned about birth defects and how women can improve their chances of having a baby born without a birth defect.

Birth Defects Are Common

Every 4 ½ minutes, a baby is born with a birth defect in the United States. That means nearly 120,000 babies are affected by birth defects each year.1

Birth defects are structural changes present at birth that can affect almost any part or parts of the body (e.g., heart, brain, foot). They may affect how the body looks, works, or both. Birth defects can vary from mild to severe. The well-being of each child affected with a birth defect depends mostly on which organ or body part is involved and how much it is affected. Depending on the severity of the defect and what body part is affected, the expected lifespan of a person with a birth defect may or may not be affected.

Identifying Birth Defects

A birth defect can be found before birth, at birth, or any time after birth. Most birth defects are found within the first year of life. Some birth defects (such as cleft lip) are easy to see, but others (such as heart defects or hearing loss) are found using special tests, such as echocardiograms (an ultrasound picture of the heart), x-rays or hearing tests.

Causes

Birth defects can occur during any stage of pregnancy. Most birth defects occur in the first 3 months of pregnancy, when the organs of the baby are forming. This is a very important stage of development. However, some birth defects occur later in pregnancy. During the last six months of pregnancy, the tissues and organs continue to grow and develop.

For some birth defects, like fetal alcohol syndrome, we know the cause. But for most birth defects, we don’t know what causes them. For most birth defects, we think they are caused by a complex mix of factors. These factors include our genes (information inherited from our parents), our behaviors, and things in the environment. But, we don’t fully understand how these factors might work together to cause birth defects.

While we still have more work to do, we have learned a lot about birth defects through past research. For example, some things might increase the chances of having a baby with a birth defect, such as:

· Smoking, drinking alcohol, or taking certain “street” drugs during pregnancy.

· Having certain medical conditions, such as being obese or having uncontrolled diabetes before and during pregnancy.

· Taking certain medications, such as Retin-A (a drug used to treat severe acne).

· Having someone in your family with a birth defect. To learn more about your risk of having a baby with a birth defect, you can talk with a clinical geneticist or a genetic counselor.

· Being an older mother, typically over the age of 34 years.

Having one or more of these risks doesn’t mean you’ll have a pregnancy affected by a birth defect. Also, women can have a baby born with a birth defect even when they don’t have any of these risks. It is important to talk to your doctor about what you can do to lower your risk.

Prevention

Not all birth defects can be prevented. But, there are things that a woman can do before and during pregnancy to increase her chance of having a healthy baby:

· Be sure to see your healthcare provider regularly and start prenatal care as soon as you think you might be pregnant. · Get 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day, starting at least one month before getting pregnant. · Don’t drink alcohol or smoke. · Talk to a healthcare provider about any medications you are taking or thinking about taking. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medications and dietary or herbal supplements. Don’t stop or start taking any type of medication without first talking with a doctor. · Learn how to prevent infections during pregnancy.

· If possible, be sure any medical conditions are under control, before becoming pregnant. Some conditions that increase the risk for birth defects include diabetes and obesity.

Living with a Birth Defect

Babies who have birth defects often need special care and interventions to survive and to thrive developmentally. State birth defects tracking programs provide one way to identify and refer children as early as possible for services they need. Early intervention is vital to improving outcomes for these babies. If your child has a birth defect, you should ask his or her doctor about local resources and treatment. Geneticists, genetic counselors, and other specialists are another resource.

Birth Defects Are Common

Learn about CDC’s research on causes and risk factors »

Prevention

Not all birth defects can be prevented. But, there are things that a woman can do before and during pregnancy to increase her chance of having a healthy baby:

· Be sure to see your healthcare provider regularly and start prenatal care as soon as you think you might be pregnant. · Get 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day, starting at least one month before getting pregnant. · Don’t drink alcohol or smoke. · Talk to a healthcare provider about any medications you are taking or thinking about taking. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medications and dietary or herbal supplements. Don’t stop or start taking any type of medication without first talking with a doctor. · Learn how to prevent infections during pregnancy.

· If possible, be sure any medical conditions are under control, before becoming pregnant. Some conditions that increase the risk for birth defects include diabetes and obesity.

Commit to Healthy Choices to Help Prevent Birth Defects

We know that not all birth defects can be prevented. But, we also know that women can increase their chances of having a healthy baby by managing health conditions and adopting healthy behaviors before becoming

pregnant. Make a PACT, a commitment to yourself, to get healthy before and during pregnancy by actively trying to plan ahead, avoid harmful substances, choose a healthy lifestyle, and talk with your healthcare provider.

Avoid alcohol at any time during pregnancy. Alcohol in a woman’s bloodstream passes to the developing baby through the umbilical cord. There is no known safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy or while trying to get pregnant. There is also no safe time during pregnancy to drink. All types of alcohol are equally harmful, including wine and beer. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and a range of lifelong physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities. These disabilities in the child, which occur because the mother drank alcohol during the pregnancy, are known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). The best advice for women is to stop drinking alcohol when trying to get pregnant. Learn more about alcohol and pregnancy

Avoid smoking cigarettes. The dangers of smoking during pregnancy include preterm birth, certain birth defects (cleft lip or cleft palate), and infant death. Even being around tobacco smoke puts a woman and her pregnancy at risk for problems. Quitting smoking before getting pregnant is best. For a woman who is already pregnant, quitting as early as possible can still help protect against some health problems for the baby, such as low birth weight. It’s never too late to quit smoking. Learn more about smoking during pregnancy

Avoid marijuana and other drugs. A woman who uses marijuana or other drugs during pregnancy can have a baby who is born preterm, of low birth weight, or has other health problems, such as birth defects. Marijuana is the illicit drug most commonly used during pregnancy. Since we know of no safe level of marijuana use during pregnancy, women who are pregnant, or considering becoming pregnant, should not use marijuana, even in states where marijuana is legal. Women using marijuana for medical reasons should speak with their doctor about an alternative therapy with pregnancy-specific safety data.

Prevent infections. Some infections that a woman can get during pregnancy can be harmful to the developing baby and can even cause birth defects. Check out our 10 tips for preventing infections before and during pregnancy.

Avoid overheating and treat fever promptly. During pregnancy, a woman should avoid overheating and treat fever promptly. Overheating can increase a woman’s chance of having a baby with a neural tube defect. It can be caused by a fever or exposure to excessive temperatures (like getting in a hot tub) that increases a woman’s core temperature. Protecting against infections, treating fever promptly, limiting environmental exposures known to increase core body temperatures (like getting in a hot tub), and consuming 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day can help reduce the chance of having a baby born with a neural tube defect.1

Choose a healthy lifestyle

Exercising during pregnancy is important. Walking is truly the best exercise. If you are a runner, check with your health care provider before undertaking a running schedule. Most health care providers follow the rule of whatever you did prepregnancy, you can do during pregnancy. You should discuss this in detail and ask any questions you might have. Wear a supportive bra during exercise. Wear a safety helmet if you are biking. Yoga is a great way to exercise and stretch your muscles. Let your instructor know that you are pregnant, and she can let you know if you need to do activities differently for your back. Wear appropriate shoes during exercise. Rubber soled shoes are the best! Flip Flops, leather bottoms, and sandals don’t give you the support that you need for walking. You could easily slip, your ankle turns, and fall. If you experience a fall during your pregnancy, call your health care provider immediately. He or she may want you to check yourself for vaginal bleeding and/or other symptoms. You may also be advised to either come into their office and they may order an ultrasound. Remember, they are out for your and your baby’s best interest, so please take heed!

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