Every year, millions of babies are born without much trouble to both the mother and the child. However, some pregnant women fear birth injuries or defects. According to the CDC, about one in 33 babies in the United States is born with a congenital disability or physical injury. And while some of these defects can be minor and easily treatable, others can be much more severe – even life-threatening. Besides the obvious physical pain that a mother can experience during childbirth, the emotional anguish of knowing that her child may be born with an injury or defect can be devastating.
Fortunately, there are certain things pregnant women can do to reduce the risk of complications during labor that may lead to injuries. These include:
1. Get regular prenatal care
This is one of the most important things a pregnant woman can do to reduce her risk of giving birth to a child with an injury or developmental defect. By getting regular checkups and screenings, your doctor can catch any potential problems early on and take steps to mitigate them, for example, oxygen supply to the baby, positioning in the womb, etc.
Nearly 1 in 10 women in the United States do not receive proper prenatal care in their first trimester – when it is most critical. So if you are pregnant, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, in any circumstances, some birth injuries and defects do occur. Cases including medical negligence, accidents, and heredity can play a role. In the case of medical malpractice, you may want to consider taking legal action after the injury has been diagnosed. Speak to a lawyer specializing in birth injury medical malpractice cases to weigh your options and plan accordingly.
2. Take a prenatal vitamin
Some vitamins and minerals are crucial for a developing baby, and a pregnant woman may not be getting enough of them through her diet alone. That’s why doctors recommend all pregnant women take prenatal vitamins every day. And even if you are pregnant, taking a multivitamin containing folic acid is a good idea. But be sure to consult with your gynecologist first.
3. Avoid tobacco, alcohol, and drugs
Consuming tobacco, drinking alcohol, and using drugs during pregnancy can increase the risk of congenital disabilities. So if you are pregnant, it’s essential to avoid them altogether. These may include stunted growth, learning disabilities, slurred speech, and breathing problems in the child after birth.
Remember, you’re not just eating for two – you’re also breathing for two. So even if you don’t smoke, being around secondhand smoke can still harm your baby. If you live with someone who smokes, try to get them to quit or at least smoke outside and away from you.
Similarly, drinking alcohol during pregnancy can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), which can cause physical and mental defects in your child. So it’s important to avoid alcohol altogether if you are pregnant.
Some states have legalized marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes, but it is still illegal under federal law. And using marijuana while pregnant can lead to low birth weight, developmental delays, and other problems in your child.
4. Monitor chronic conditions
Sometimes, a woman may have a chronic condition that increases her risk of having a child with a birth injury or defect. For example, women with diabetes are at an increased risk of giving birth to a baby with congenital heart defects. These conditions can increase the risk of birth injuries or defects.
So if you have a chronic condition, talk to your doctor about how to best manage it during pregnancy. They may need to adjust your medication or make other changes to help keep you and your baby healthy.
5. Staying at a healthy weight
Gaining or losing weight during pregnancy can increase the risk of birth injuries or defects. So it’s important to stay within the recommended height and body type range.
Your doctor can help you determine how much weight you should gain during pregnancy. Doctors recommend you gain between 25 and 35 pounds if you are of normal weight before labor. If you are underweight or overweight, they may recommend a different range.
6. Exercise regularly
Imagine that your baby is like a balloon inside a water balloon. As your balloon (baby) grows, so does the water balloon (uterus). This puts extra pressure on your pelvic floor muscles, leading to problems like incontinence or prolapse later in life.
So regular exercise is important to keep those muscles strong during pregnancy. Walking and pelvic floor exercises (like Kegels) are great ways to stay active during pregnancy. These will also make labor easier. But try not to lift heavy weights. Consult your doctor for a proper exercise plan.
7. Get rest
Getting enough sleep is important for everyone, but it’s especially important for pregnant women. That’s because sleep helps your body recover from the physical stress of pregnancy and childbirth. So if you are pregnant, get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night. And if you can, take a nap during the day. Sleep also helps your body recover from the physical stress of pregnancy and childbirth.
8. Don’t stress
Stress can take a toll on your body, leading to problems like high blood pressure and pre-term labor. So it’s important to find ways to reduce stress during pregnancy.
There are many different ways to do this, so find what works best for you. Some women find that relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation help. Others find that spending time with friends and family helps reduce stress.
During pregnancy, your body produces a hormone called cortisol. This hormone helps you deal with stress, but too much of it can be harmful. So it’s important to find ways to reduce stress during pregnancy. Some ways to reduce stress during pregnancy include:
- -Deep breathing
- -Spending time with friends and family
- -Getting a massage
Women undergo several changes during pregnancy, both physically and emotionally. More importantly, it can be dangerous for the mother and child. This is why managing chronic conditions, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, clocking in some sleep, and reducing stress are all important ways to help reduce the risk of birth injuries or defects. If you have any concerns about your health, talk to your doctor. They can help you manage any risks and ensure a healthy pregnancy.