Giving birth to a healthy baby is likely to be a top priority for almost every new parent out there. The risk of causing or inheriting birth defects can not only be quite stressful for parents but also very unpredictable. This article is going to look at how you can minimise risks and make healthier choices to prevent birth defects.
It’s time to make a PACT. The popular acronym is a great way to actively try and prevent birth defects:
- Plan ahead
- Avoid harmful substances
- Choose a healthy lifestyle
- Talk to your doctor
Let’s take a look at these in more detail:
Many birth defects can happen during the first three months of the pregnancy so it’s important to begin thinking about how to prevent birth defects before conception. Being more prepared in advance can greatly improve the chances of a healthy and happy baby.
Folic acid is incredibly important for babies as it reduces the risk of defects that can affect the brain and spine. By taking a daily dose of folic acid, you will be giving your baby the necessary ingredients for them to develop.
Avoid harmful substances
Harmful substances; the term includes everything from e-cigarettes and cigarettes to alcohol and drugs. Unplanned pregnancies are at a higher risk of birth defects that are a result of harmful substances. As well as birth defects, harmful substances can also play a part in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), premature birth and miscarriage.
As well as what we may consider to be standard harmful substances, some working environments may contain toxic fumes and other materials that could affect the health of the baby. It’s always worth checking the hazards in your workplace.
Choose a healthy lifestyle
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy shouldn’t be difficult but can go a long way to prevent birth defects. Eating healthily and maintaining a healthy weight both contribute to your lifestyle and, considering the health of the mother has a direct impact on the baby, it’s important to be mindful of these.
Managing long-term illnesses may be more difficult. Effectively managing diabetes, for example, is incredibly important during pregnancy to reduce the risk of serious complications.
Infections and diseases can also have an effect on the health of the child so it’s worth being mindful of your personal hygiene. Make sure your vaccinations are up to date and keep your living conditions sanitised.
Talk to your doctor
No matter which part of the PACT you’re focusing on, regular contact with your doctor is incredibly important and if you ever feel unsure about something, then ask. Your doctor will be in the best position to advise accordingly and can provide tailored recommendations that meet your specifications. This includes having regular check-ups, planning a pregnancy, genetic counseling and over the counter prescriptions – some of these may be advised against and so it’s always worth checking first.