Riley Hospital for Children Visitor Restrictions

Due to a rise in the number of reported flu cases and other respiratory viruses, Riley at IU Health is implementing visitor restrictions to protect patients and prevent further spreading. View full details.

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Healthy Pregnancy: 10 Steps You Can Take to Prevent Birth Defects

If you are pregnant, or you are thinking about getting pregnant, thinking about birth defects can be a real concern. Fortunately, there are steps you can take right now to lessen the chance that your baby will be born with birth defects. Here are 10 steps you can take right now.

  1. Stop drinking and smoking. What’s healthy for you is also healthy for your baby. If you smoke, or drink- stop.
  2. Take folic acid. Folic acid is great for developing babies. If you want to lessen your baby’s chances for birth defects, supplement with folic acid. Some tasty foods with high amounts of folic acid include leafy greens, legumes, and avocado.
  3. Share family medical information with your doctors. If your family has a history of heart defects, or any other medical issues, make sure to tell your doctor. Early preparation can help head off later problems.
  4. Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity can increase a baby’s likelihood for birth defects. Before you get pregnant, get to and maintain a healthy body weight.
  5. Take precautions if you are diabetic. If you are diabetic, make sure your diabetes is under control before and during your pregnancy. Make sure to work with your doctor to manage your diabetes.
  6. Check your medications. Certain medications increase the likelihood of birth defects. Check with your doctor before you get pregnant, or as soon as possible after pregnancy to see if any of your medications might cause a problem.
  7. Make sure your vaccinations are up to date. Certain preventable diseases like chicken pox also cause birth defects. Before you get pregnant, make sure you get vaccinated.
  8. Stay away from harmful chemicals. Want to paint a room or kill weeds in your garden? Maybe hold off till after the baby is born. Some chemicals can increase the likelihood of birth defects. Make sure to avoid dangerous chemicals during pregnancy.
  9. Reduce stress. Easier said than done, right? But if you can, try to reduce stress in your life.
  10. Exercise. This is tied into maintaining a healthy weight and reducing stress. Exercising regularly during pregnancy can do a lot for the health of your baby. It also has the added benefit of making your body stronger for the birth of your child! It should be noted that not all birth defects are preventable. However, by taking these steps before and during pregnancy, you will be going a long way towards assuring that you and your baby will be as healthy as possible.

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