11 Nov Pregnancy Nutritionist Tips to Prevent Birth Defects with Good Nutrition, Prenatal Diet
Every 4 ½ minutes, a baby is born with a birth defect (an estimated 1 in 33). When preparing for conception and pregnancy, there are ways to prevent birth defects. As a pregnancy nutrition group and registered dietitian nutritionists, we specialize in how to help a woman prepare for pregnancy and best nourish herself during pregnancy.
Here are 8 easy steps to reduce the chance of birth defects in your child and make a PACT for prevention.
- Plan ahead: When possible, don’t let pregnancy take you by surprise! Plan ahead to be the healthiest you when you get pregnant. (This, too, goes for Dad). Establish good eating and exercise habits beforehand. Boost your Folic Acid and choline intake. A pregnancy and fertility dietitian can help you detect deficiencies or overloads of nutrients critical to healthy fertility and pregnancy like iron, folate, protein, carbohydrates, total fat, omega 3 fats, calories, fluids, and fibers.
- Just Say No: Now is the time to step away from tobacco and street drugs. Smoking may not only reduce your chances of getting pregnant but also increase your chances of miscarriage and birth defects. Any kind of prescription, over-the-counter, or even homeopathic medication you take must be discussed with your OB/GYN prior to getting pregnant and during your pregnancy. Reduce your intake of alcohol. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are completely preventable if a mother does not drink alcohol during pregnancy.
- Wash Your Hands: Washing your hands with soap and water, regularly, can greatly reduce your risk of infection. Wash your hands before and after preparing food.
- CSCC: Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill food properly. Food poisoning in an expecting mother can be fatal for a growing baby. Moreover, dehydration caused by food poisoning can cause premature labor.
- Get 400 Micrograms of Folic Acid Each Day: Folic Acid is a B Vitamin critical for cell growth. Taken before and during the early part of pregnancy, Folic Acid can prevent up to 70% of birth defects. Lentils, dried beans, peas, nuts, avocados, dark green veggies, and citric fruits are all great sources of Folic Acid. Most healthcare professionals won’t leave it to chance and will recommend a supplement. In fact, because so many pregnancies are unexpected, health care professionals are now recommending all young women, from 15 – 35, take a folic acid supplement.
- Don’t Clean the Litter Box: Toxoplasma gondii is a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis. Many people have had this in their life without even knowing it. If a mother has already had toxoplasmosis, her unborn child will be protected from the disease. However, if an expecting mother contracts toxoplasmosis, this can cause birth defects. It’s important to test whether you’ve had toxoplasmosis to know whether or not you’ve had it to take the necessary steps to prevent getting it while pregnant.
- Don’t eat undercooked meats. Now is not the time for an extra-rare cut of steak.
- Use gloves while gardening so you don’t come into contact with cat feces.
- Zika Scare: If you are living in a place with mosquitoes, wear long-sleeved shirts and a mild, doctor-approved repellant. And if you plan on traveling, consult with your OB/GYN ahead of time.
- Eat and Exercise for Two: Now, more than ever, will you need to evaluate your eating habits. Eating for two means getting the right nutrients and calories and vitamins you and your baby need, not doubling your calorie intake. Moreover, exercising during pregnancy can increase your immunity and keep stress levels down.
Not all birth defects can be prevented; however, an alarming number can with these prenatal resolutions. Prevent infections. Protect your baby. Be prepared. Be informed. Share your information and stories on social media with this
Resolve to keep you and your growing baby healthy.