Whether you’re thrilled at the news or still in a state of complete shock, finding out you’re pregnant is one of the most momentous occasions you will likely experience in your lifetime. As thrilling as it is to consider the baby growing inside of you, it’s equally as terrifying to think of the things that could go wrong. January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month. The initiative is a nationwide effort to raise awareness of birth defects and their impact on families. Not all birth defects can be prevented but you can increase your chances of having a healthy baby by engaging in healthy habits throughout your pregnancy and beyond. Here are some tips to consider from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

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;
  • Most vitamins sold in the United States have the recommended daily amount of folic acid (400 mcg) that you need.
  • 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.
  • Eating fortified foods:
    • You can find folic acid in some breads, breakfast cereals, and corn masa flour.
    • 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.

Book a visit with your healthcare provider 

Ensure you schedule an appointment before stopping or starting any medicine.

Many women need to take medicine to stay healthy during pregnancy. If you are planning to become pregnant, discuss your current medicines with a healthcare provider, such as your doctor or pharmacist. Creating a treatment plan for your health condition before you are pregnant can help keep you and your developing baby healthy.

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.

Having a baby is an exciting milestone and the physicians and staff at Bay Area Family Physicians appreciate the opportunity to provide your medical services. We want to strengthen communication between our office and you, our patients. As specialists in Family Medicine, we focus on primary care needs for patients of all ages – from newborns to the elderly.