December 20, 2018

For women thinking of having a baby in the coming year, making a resolution to be as healthy as possible before conception will increase the likelihood of having a healthy pregnancy and baby, says March of Dimes, the leader in the fight for moms and babies. 

”Healthy women have the best chances for a healthy, full-term baby,” says Rahul Gupta, MD, MPH, March of Dimes Senior Vice President and Chief Medical & Health Officer. “Making healthy choices now is important for you as well as for the baby you may have this year. What’s best for you is also best for your baby.”

Tips from the March of Dimes for a healthy mom and baby:

  • See your healthcare provider in the New Year for a pre-pregnancy checkup. Talk to her about ways to achieve and maintain a healthy weight before you get pregnant.
  • Ask your doctor about managing health conditions before becoming pregnant. Be sure to discuss all your medications, including both prescription and over-the-counter, such as any vitamins and supplements.
  • Adopt healthy behaviors before becoming pregnant. Avoid harmful substances such as alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. For help on how to quit, talk to your health care provider. She can help you get treatment to quit. Or contact:
    • National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, (800) 622-2255.
    • Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator, (800) 662-4357. 
    • (1-800-QUIT-NOW).
  • Start taking a daily multivitamin containing 400 micrograms of folic acid even before you become pregnant. Folic acid, a B vitamin, is proven to help prevent serious birth defects of the brain and spine. It’s also a good idea to eat foods that contain folate, the natural form of folic acid, including lentils, green leafy vegetables, black beans, and orange juice. March of Dimes also recommends foods made from enriched grain flour, such as bread, pasta, and cereals; and foods made from enriched corn masa flour, such as cornbread, corn tortillas, tacos, and tamales.
  • Become up-to-date with your vaccinations (shots). Ask your provider about vaccinations you should receive before pregnancy, including the flu shot and pertussis (whooping cough) booster.

Birth defects affect about 1 in every 33 babies born in the United States each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Not all birth defects can be prevented, but a woman can take steps to increase her chance of having a baby with the best health possible. January is Birth Defects Prevention Month, and the week of January 6-12 is Folic Acid Awareness Week. Join the conversation and learn more on Twitter at hashtag #Best4YouBest4Baby.