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9/14/17blog post

4 tips for preventing premature birth

By: Tracey Jackson, genetic health educator

September is Infant Mortality Awareness Month and it’s especially important to discuss infant mortality in Ohio because our infant mortality rate is one of the highest in the country – which means we have a long way to go to ensure all babies reach their first birthdays.

One of the leading cases of infant mortality is premature birth and one of the best ways to reduce the likelihood of premature birth is to improve the health of mom – especially moms who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant.

Planning to have a baby someday? Even if you answered “no” to this question, keep reading to find out how good preconception health can affect you! A focus on preconception health not only benefits our future babies, but helps people get healthy overall.

What is preconception health? It’s taking steps to ensure the healthiest pregnancy possible BEFORE becoming pregnant. You may already know that eating well and being physically active can help. And you may know that certain behaviors, such as smoking, drinking alcohol and using “street” drugs can have adverse effects on a developing baby. What else can you do to ensure a healthier YOU and the best possible outcome for your future offspring? See our tips below!

  1. Plan ahead. It’s never too early to get ready for a healthy pregnancy and baby!
    • Prevent unplanned pregnancies. Nearly half of all pregnancies are unplanned, which increases the risk of problems for baby and mother.
    • Get 400 micrograms of folic acid daily which helps certain serious birth defects. Most multi-vitamins will have the required amount.
    • Learn about your family medical history.
  2. See your doctor for a pre-pregnancy health check-up to:
    • Discuss any medical conditions you currently have, such as diabetes, obesity, seizure disorders, high blood pressure and chronic diseases. Be sure these conditions are being managed and treated.
    • Discuss all medications you are taking, both prescription and over-the counter, and potential effects on a developing baby.
    • Make sure your vaccinations are up-to date.
    • Review your family history to determine whether you may benefit from genetic counseling and/or genetic testing.
  3. Choose a healthy lifestyle.
    • Eat a healthy diet that includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and lean proteins.
    • Be physically active! Try to get 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week.
    • Manage and reduce stress and get mentally healthy.
    • Protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  4. Avoid unhealthy behaviors and substances.
    • Stop smoking! It’s not healthy for you or others around you.
    • Don’t use street drugs or other people’s prescription medicine.
    • Limit alcohol use, and don’t drink if you could get pregnant.
    • Be careful with harmful exposures around the home and workplace.