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There are steps that a mother and father can take to ensure that their baby arrives into the world as healthy as possible. The baby must be considered in almost every aspect of the parents’ lifestyle. Everyday activities that have had no harm on the future mother or father’s health may still cause a negative effect on the baby’s health. Other lifestyle choices that can have obvious negative effects on the mother’s health will of course impact the baby since both of their well-beings are directly connected. This is a collection of critical resources for parents looking to educate themselves about harms that can be easily prevented throughout the pregnancy term to ensure a healthy baby on its very first birthday.
Parents often wonder which physical genes they will pass to their future child such as hair color and eye color, but they could also be passing on harmful genes to their baby. Birth defects become a common concern of future parents. Although genetics is the main contributor of birth defects, there are still preventions a mother can take to help decrease the likelihood of her baby being born with any congenital disease. These negative genes can be triggered to cause a disease in a baby by the mother’s nutrition and by harmful chemicals. The mother can help by eating healthy and avoiding radiation and other chemicals, such as lead and mercury.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Facts About Birth Defects
March of Dimes Birth Defects Facts Page
Preventing Birth Defects
Nutrition is an extremely important part of life for a woman to consider during her pregnancy. It is equally as important to eat healthy foods as it is to avoid foods that are not healthy for the baby. A mother should research which foods to eat to have a healthy and balanced diet along with taking a prenatal vitamin. Folic acid is also an important nutrient to consider in making food choices as it can help prevent birth defects and other pregnancy problems. Foods to avoid are undercooked or uncooked seafood and meat, unhygienic water, and food filled with chemicals or pesticides. Most importantly, a doctor’s advice should always be taken concerning nutrition and vitamin intake as taking too much or too little of a vitamin or nutrient can affect the baby.
Nutrition During Pregnancy Education Pamphlet
Pregnancy Nutrition: Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy
Use of Vitamins During Pregnancy
Dangerous Herbs and Vitamins During Pregnancy
Pregorexia: Anorexia in Pregnant Women
Becoming pregnant can sometimes force a woman to dramatically change her lifestyle. Smoking, drinking, drug-use, and certain exercises and hobbies can have a negative effect on a baby’s health. Using drugs and smoking endangers the mother’s body which is directly related to the health of the baby’s body. Exercise, on the other hand, seems as though it would be beneficial for the baby as exercising is good for the mother’s health, but some activities, especially contact sports or vigorous exercise involving the abdomen, can seriously hurt the fetus. A doctor can help a soon-to-be mom create an exercise ritual that keeps the woman and baby healthy and fit. Hobbies also need to be taken into consideration during a pregnancy as certain hobbies such as photography developing, ceramics, and other craft work may involve the usage of chemicals that may cause damage to the baby’s development.
Five Things You Should Know About Drinking Alcohol During Pregnancy
Substance Use During Pregnancy Fact Sheet (PDF)
Pregnancy and Drugs
Exercising During Pregnancy
Recreation and Pregnancy
Just because a woman becomes pregnant, does not mean she wants to sacrifice her appearance. It’s only natural to for a lady to still want to continue routines such as putting on making or doing her hair, but it is vital to talk to a doctor about which chemicals are bad for the baby. Chemicals called phthalates are a common ingredient in some cosmetics, so it is necessary to read the makeup label and make sure this ingredient is not included before a purchase is made. Phthalates can be taken into the body through the skin through cosmetic application and also inhaled in other products such as hairsprays. It is also crucial to speak with a doctor about hair dyes and if the chemicals in them may be harmful at any stage in the pregnancy, since these chemicals may be absorbed through the scalp.
Case Study on Phthalates Exposure During Pregnancy (PDF)
Exposure to BPA During Pregnancy
Exposure to Phthalates May Shorten Pregnancy Duration
Will it Harm My Baby If…? FAQs About Pregnancy
Early and habitual prenatal visits to a doctor are necessary throughout the pregnancy period to ensure that the baby is developing properly and that the woman is educated on what she must be doing as the mother. Prenatal doctor visits are nothing but beneficial, but this may cause the illusion that all medical care is beneficial for the baby. Certain prescription and over-the-counter drugs can dramatically harm the baby if they are ingested throughout the pregnancy. Other medical procedures such as x-ray pictures can give the mother low doses of radiation that are not harmful to her health, but can affect the baby.
Studies on Exposure to X-Rays and Nuclear Medicine While Pregnant
Drugs and Pregnancy
Prescription Drug Effects on Pregnant Women
Prenatal Medical Care
Maternal illnesses can happen regardless of how careful a mother can be regarding her health. If and when an illness occurs, the mother and father can both help by learning more about illness and carefully following a doctor’s orders. There are also mothers that already have a disease, such as diabetes, before their pregnancy begins. These mothers will need to take their disease or disorder into consideration as their disease may affect their pregnancy term in ways that will not affect mothers without the disease.
Pregnancy and Toxoplasmosis
Living With Diabetes While Pregnant
Rubella and Pregnancy (PDF)
Cytomegalovirus in Pregnancy
Group B Streptococcus
Pregnancy and Thyroid Disease
Home and Garden
Parents often enjoy preparing their home for their new child. This often includes some home remodeling which may include painting and decorating. These home activities need to be carefully thought out since over-exposure to chemicals in the home or garden can impact the new baby. Any substance that contains chemicals should be carefully researched before the mother comes in contact with them. Babyproofing should also be considered while preparing the home, so once the baby arrives, chemicals, medicines, and other harmful materials are not accessible by the baby.
Home Hazard Analysis Before Pregnancy
Preparing for Your Baby’s Safety (PDF)
Paint and Pregnancy
Pesticide Exposure During Pregnancy
Many mother’s will work throughout most of their pregnancy term. Although this is financially responsible, the workplace environment needs to be evaluated to ensure that is will not be dangerous for the baby. Again, chemicals can cause damage to the baby’s health if the mother becomes exposed to them on the job. It is also important for the woman to know her legal rights as a pregnant woman on the job. The workplace environment can also have an effect on the likihood that a pregnancy will occur. Some environments can affect both male and female reproductive health. It is mandatory that workplaces post the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) in an easily accessible location for all employees so they can see if any materials they may come in contact with will affect their health. Future parents should consult the MSDS to aid with reproductive health and the baby’s health.
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Pregnancy Discrimination Laws
Pregnancy and Military Operations
Male and Female Reproduction Health Hazards in the Workplace
Outside of the home and workplace, a mother and father are also part of a larger community. The environment of the community can change the health of the future daughter or son. Unfortunately, this is one of the more difficult factors to manipulate when it comes to the baby’s health, but parents can work together to help the community change its environment to be more beneficial for their future child’s well-being. Air pollution, water pollution, hazardous waste sites, and pesticides can have long-term negative health effects on a developing baby as well as a growing child.
Air Pollution Impacts on Infants and Children
Brief Synopsis of Environmental Factors for Women in the United States
Pregnancy and Radiation
The Effects of Maternal Stress and Anxiety During Pregnancy (PDF)