If you’re a woman hoping to get pregnant in the New Year, make an important resolution to be as healthy as you can be in 2018, says the March of Dimes, the nation’s leader in pregnancy and baby health.
“Healthy women have the best chance for a full-term pregnancy and a healthy baby,” says Stacey D. Stewart, president of the March of Dimes. “So do all you can to make sure you are healthy, and that your body is ready for pregnancy.”
Top tip from the March of Dimes: See your healthcare provider in the New Year for a pre-pregnancy checkup. Talk to your provider about ways to prepare for pregnancy and learn things you can do to protect your health and that of your baby.
More tips from the March of Dimes for a healthy baby in your future:
- Start taking a daily multivitamin containing 400 micrograms of folic acid, a B vitamin. Folic acid every day, beginning before pregnancy and continuing through your pregnancy, 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. The 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.
- Be 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.
- Learn how to avoid other infections such as Zika virus, cytomegalovirus (CMV), and sexually transmitted infections.
- Prevent bites from mosquitoes and other insects by using insect repellent and wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Consider avoiding travel to areas with Zika virus.
- Practice good hygiene: Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially before preparing or eating foods; after being around or touching pets and other animals. If you’re around young children, don’t share food, glasses or utensils and do not put a child’s cup or pacifier in your mouth.
Birth defects affect 1 in every 33 babies born in the United States each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. January is Birth Defects Prevention Month, and the week of January 7-13 is Folic Acid Awareness Week. Join the conversation and learn more on Twitter at hashtag #prevent2protect. Sign up now at Thunderclap to automatically post a message of support and awareness on your social media accounts on January 10: https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/65683-prevent2protect