Prepare for Pregnancy
The first few weeks of your pregnancy are crucial to your baby's development. It can be an especially vulnerable time for your developing child. Often pregnancies are unintended which means that mothers-to-be don't always get the chance to prepare their bodies for having children. If you're reading this, you're already in a good position to make sure you're as healthy as you can be before you conceive. Here are some tips to help you prepare for pregnancy.
Folic acid has been proven to prevent, or at least significantly reduce neurological defects like spina bifida. For folic acid to do its job, it's important to make sure you have enough before you conceive and during those early weeks when you may not know you're pregnant. This is the time that your baby's spine is developing and insufficient folic acid could prevent the spine or other parts of the body from properly forming.
There are supplements for folic acid. But it's also possible to get enough folic acid from diet alone. Food like citrus fruit, broccoli, spinach, peas and dried beans are high in folic acid. If you're taking supplements, it's important to make sure you don't take too much folic acid since this could pose health risks as well.
A prenatal vitamin will have the correct amount of folic acid you need daily. If you're taking straight folic acid supplements, 400 micrograms or 0.4 milligrams daily is sufficient for most women. Talk to your doctor to make sure this is the right amount for you.
Quit Consuming Toxins
This means you need to eliminate alcohol from your diet. There is no known safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy and alcohol can cause significant physical and mental disabilities. Some babies have the genes that make them more susceptible to brain damage with only a small amount of alcohol. In other cases genes are present that help the baby somehow dilute the amount of alcohol they get from their mothers while in utero.
Stop smoking. Even large enough amounts of second hand smoke can stunt your baby's development. Women who smoke or are exposed to second hand smoke tend to have smaller, less healthy babies with low birth weights. The same is true for caffeine intake.
Your Protein Source
While it's important to make sure you eat enough protein and iron in a healthy pre-pregnancy and pregnancy diet, you also need to be careful with your choices.
Seafood can be very healthy and are an important source of Omega-3 fatty acids. But some are contaminated with PCBs, a probable carcinogen, or the potent neurotoxin methylmercury. Canned fish tend to pose a higher risk. Wild Alaskan Salmon, shrimp, mackerel, clams, herring and tilapia tend to have lower levels of contamination. Eat fish in moderation.
Choose low fat options when buying meat, poultry or dairy. Toxins like synthetic hormones, pesticides, organchlorine chemicals and antibiotics tend to accumulate in animal fats. When you eat the animal fats, you're transferring those toxins to your body.