Do you know someone who is pregnant or plans on becoming pregnant?
The March of Dimes recommends that all pregnant women follow these 5 key steps:
1. Get early and regular pre-natal care. This reduces your risk of complications, including pre-term delivery and having a low birth weight baby.
2. Eat nutritious foods and take a daily multi-vitamin with at least 400 micrograms of folic acid. Eating a varied, healthy diet ensures that you and baby are getting all the protein and nutrients you need. Folic acid prevents brain and neurological birth defects, so supplemental folic acid is recommended for all women of childbearing age. It is advised that women start to take supplemental folic acid at least 2 months prior to conception to offer maximum benefits.
3. Don't smoke. Women who smoke increase their chances of having a miscarriage, low birthweight baby, and the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago provides a smoking cessation program than is appropriate for pregnant women.
4. Don't take drugs. Taking drugs, besides those approved by a doctor who knows you are pregnant, can cause severe disabilities or death of your baby. The Illinois Teteragon Society offers a free hotline service for the community at 1-800-252-4847. They can tell you about the safety of drugs, chemicals, and other environmental toxins.
5. Don't drink. Hard liquor, wine and beer can all cause birth defects. Because no one knows the "minimal" safe amount, it is best to abstain all together.