Eating a healthy diet is always a wise idea – but especially during pregnancy. It's also important to take a prenatal vitamin during pregnancy to help cover any nutritional gaps in the mother's diet.
Prenatal vitamins contain many vitamins and minerals that are important to a growing baby; especially folic acid, iron, iodine, and calcium.
Foods containing folic acid include green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans, citrus fruits, and many fortified foods. Even if you eat a healthy diet, it's a good idea to take a supplement with the right amount of folic acid to protect your baby and his or her future.
Folic acid helps prevent neural tube birth defects, which affect the brain and spinal cord. Neural tube defects develop in the first 28 days after conception, before many women know they are pregnant. Because over half of all pregnancies are unplanned, it's recommended that any woman who could get pregnant take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid daily, starting before conception and continue throughout their pregnancy and childbearing years. Some women may need a different dose of folic acid, so be sure and ask your health care provider how much is right for you.
Iron helps blood -- in both the mother and baby -- carry oxygen which is needed to sustain life. It also helps you feel less worn out while that baby is “under construction”.
Iodine is critical for a woman’s healthy thyroid function during pregnancy. A deficiency in iodine can cause stunted physical growth, severe mental disability, and deafness. Not enough iodine can lead to miscarriage and stillbirth.
Calcium is also important for a pregnant woman. It can help prevent her from losing her bone density and strength since the baby can use her calcium for its own bone growth if she doesn’t take in enough with her diet. So, drink your milk, but if you can’t, ask your health care provider about supplements.
As soon as you suspect you're pregnant, schedule an appointment with your pregnancy health care provider, such as an obstetrician/gynecologist, family practice provider, or a nurse practitioner through a clinic. Even if you've confirmed it with a home pregnancy test, it's still wise to follow-up with an appointment. This will help you and your baby get off to a good start!
Keeping appointments with your health care provider throughout your pregnancy is important to ensure not just your health, and your baby’s growth and development. It also gives you the opportunity to ask questions, so be sure and write them down so you don’t forget. Also, most health care providers welcome your partner at each visit, as well as interested family members.
If your health isn't enough to make you quit smoking, then the health of your baby should be. Smoking during pregnancy affects you and your baby's health before, during, and after your baby is born. The nicotine (the addictive substance in cigarettes), carbon monoxide, and numerous other poisons you inhale from a cigarette are carried through your bloodstream and go directly to your baby. Smoking while pregnant will:
• Lower the amount of oxygen available
to you and your growing baby.
• Increase your baby's heart rate.
• Increase the chances of miscarriage
• Increase the risk that your baby is born
prematurely and/or born with low birth weight.
• Increase your baby's risk of developing
respiratory (lung) problems, like asthma.
• Increase the risk of birth defects.
• Increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death
Syndrome or SIDS.
The more cigarettes you smoke per day, the greater your baby's chances of developing these and other health problems. There is no "safe" level of smoking while pregnant, so do yourself and your baby a favor and QUIT! And avoid second hand smoke! There are lots of places that can help you. Just ask your health care provider.
The health partners listed below want to change these statistics . We have pledged to work together and make southwest Indiana a home for healthy babies. Please share this information with the women in your community and encourage them to take healthy baby steps throughout their pregnancy.
We’ll come to you.
Pregnancy can be hard. We have the resources, ready to help. Our communities have several agencies that will send experts to your home to help your baby grow up healthy. Call 211 to find the perfect partner.
Feelings of sadness or depression around pregnancy are completely normal. Call 211 for help. Or view our listing of local resources.
In our local communities, 29 babies died before their first birthday in 2015. These recent years represent tragic infant death that is far higher than the national average of 5.8 deaths per 1,000 live births and equal to the infant death rates of many third-world countries.
The three leading causes of infant death in our communities from 2011-2015 were preterm birth, birth defects and sleep related deaths. Raising awareness of the 3 Steps to a Healthy Baby will help to improve these numbers. You can help! Here’s how.