Is There A Baby In Your Future?

Taking good care of yourself before pregnancy can make a healthier baby.

Changes are not always easy but making healthy choices in your life can even increase your chances of getting pregnant. Taking the time to learn more about your health and to make some changes before you are pregnant can mean improved health for you, your baby and your family.

The time to “tune in” to a future baby’s health is before you get pregnant.

Striving for balance in your diet and activity level produces a healthier baby and reduces the risk of having a baby with neural tube defects such as spina bifida. These defects are caused when the brain and spinal cord fail to develop properly. The critical time for this development is the third and fourth week after conception. Folic acid, a B vitamin, can help to reduce the chances of having a child with a neural tube defect. About one half of the daily 0.4 mg requirement of folic acid can be found in a well balanced diet. Foods such as cantaloupe, oranges or orange juice, broccoli, spinach, eggs, beans, peanut butter and nuts and many more can provide you with this. The other half of your daily requirement must be taken in a vitamin pill. This should be started a month before pregnancy and continued for the first ten to twelve weeks of your pregnancy.

A woman who has already had a child with a neural tube defect should consult her family physician to determine what her needs are for folic acid.

If you are physically active before pregnancy, it will be easier to continue being active during and after your pregnancy. It can strengthen your heart, body and bones and help to keep your weight where it’s healthy for you. Some tips are:

  • use stairs instead of elevators
  • cycle to the store when it’s just a few groceries
  • walk each day
  • dance to music when doing chores around the house
  • stand and stroll every 15 minutes instead of sitting

Find something you enjoy doing, invite family or friends along and make it fit into your lifestyle.

For more links, see our Pregnancy section