An unfortunate statistic shows that about 3-5% of all babies born have some sort of birth defect and the possibility could increase exponentially if expectant mothers do not account for and avoid things that aid this formation of abnormality in the fetus and baby. It should be the priority of all soon-to-be-mothers to reduce the factors that can harm them or the baby.
This can only be accomplished if mothers have insight on things that are increasing the risk factors. Even knowing and doing all you can, is sometimes not sufficient but it is always better to be safe and do all you can then be sorry afterwards.
Pregnant women need credible and useful information of what they should do to ensure a smooth pregnancy and what they should avoid. This doesn’t mean they need to fret over every single thing, become self-conscious or constantly dread about what could go wrong. This stress itself is detrimental to their mental and physical health, instead they need to learn for themselves the potential risks and complications of their pregnancy.
Getting information from the right place at the right time works wonders for the health and development of both the mother and the baby and this article is designed specifically to help pregnant mothers recognize all the risk factors so they can avoid them.
Pregnancy is the time of life when a woman has to live for two, and make sure she ingests enough nutrients to last herself and the formation of the fetus. This is why women who forego a healthy diet are always at a risk. It is important each foods is rich in folic acid to protect the baby from neural tube defects (spina bifida).
Throughout the pregnancy, especially the first trimester women should take pre-natal vital supplements that have a minimum of 500 micrograms of folic acid daily. A natural way to ingest folic acid is by eating green vegetables, fortified cereals, grapefruits and liver.
Avoid Foods that Cause Listeria
There are some foods that can harm women and the fetus they are carrying as they make women vulnerable to the infection Listeria. This infection can cause pregnancy complications including stillbirth and originates from a bacteria found in many food items. These food items include dairy and refrigerated products such cheese, pates, cold meats, coleslaw, sushi, soft-serve ice creams, seafood in general and products made from unpasteurized milk or the milk itself. All the food women intake must be properly stored and have no signs of bacterial infection.
Fish and Alcohol
Now we know seafood can cause Listeria, but fish represent a different danger to the fetus. Fish such as shark, marlin, southern blue fin tuna, orange roughy and swordfish are extremely harmful to women and fall in the category of fish not allowed. This is due to the high level of mercury present in them which can damage the nervous system of the baby. Alcohol on the other is completely forbidden as the fetus can neither digest not filter it and ends up building up in the placenta causing it severe damage.
Medication and Pregnancy
This one depends on the nature and need of your medication. If your healthcare provider knows about your pregnancy and then prescribes you medication, it is safe to assume they won’t harm you or the baby. You should always tell the doctor your condition and discuss things when you are unclear or unsure. Do not over-medicate yourself and only take medicine when it is inevitable. Always follow the prescription, direction, time and dosage and never self-medicate even on over-the-counter medication.
Medicines safe for an adult woman are not necessarily safe for the fetus. The same goes for natural and herbal remedies that may seem benign but could be dangerous. It is best to consult a professional whenever considering taking any pills, herbs or medicines. Women who recklessly take medicines that have no scientific claims called complementary medicine put themselves and their babies at risk. These are best avoided.
Caffeine Fix and Beverages
Now, for most adults a caffeine fix is essential to starting and continuing the day but for pregnant women this needs to be avoided or limited to just 200 mg/day. This totals to about 4 cups of tea or 2 cups of weak coffee. As for energy drinks, no more than one can is permitted and the consumption of carbonated drinks should be brought down to less than one litre.
Toxins and Cigarettes
We surround ourselves with endless amounts of environmental toxins each day, but pregnant women need to show caution before exposing themselves to such nuisances and make sure their rooms are ventilated. Women need to avoid needless X-rays ionizing radiation. As for chemicals lead, paint fumes, pesticides and cleaning agents are all harmful to the baby and women must pay caution when dealing with them.
Another things to abstain from during pregnancy is smoking as nicotine is harmful to the fetus. The baby could be born underweight, prematurely, develop respiratory diseases or die due to SIDs. It also affects breast milk and women do not produce enough to nourish their child.
These are absolutely forbidden for the sake of the health of a fetus. Women who are drug addicts are suggested to join rehab facilities and programs to counter these addictions as using drugs can lead to miscarriages, premature birth, stillbirth, small birth weight or placental abruption.
Pregnant women have weaker immune systems so they need to keep their hands clean, and avoid people that are sick with contagious diseases or infections. We need to warn women that for pregnancy the viral infections Chickenpox and rubella (German Measles) are highly dangerous in addition to Cytomegalovirus, Parvovirus (B-19), Toxoplasmosis and STDs.
Hot Baths, Saunas and Spas
The body of a mother must regulate the temperature for the fetus and during pregnancy women need to avoid environments that raise their body temperature above 39 degree Celsius. This means all the hot baths and spas can harm the fetus.
Cats and Seatbelts
Adults always wear seatbelts and more often than not always have a close bond with their pets. But pregnant women should avoid taking walks with or cleaning up after their cats. The Toxoplasmosis parasitic diseases can be transferred from cat’s faeces to humans via hands.
This also means women should wear gloves while digging around in their garden and wash their hands, and any fruit or vegetable they eat thoroughly. As for seatbelts, no matter how uncomfortable they make you, pregnant women should always wear their seatbelts whether they are travelling through cars, buses, or planes. This is important to protect them and their baby.
Avoid threatening or violent relationships at all cost and women need to make sure they have a violence-free, supportive and peaceful environment at home.