Surprises happen. In fact, half of U.S. pregnancies are unplanned. So you should be prepared if you’re a woman of child-bearing age. You need to ensure you’re healthy now to give your baby the best chance at a healthy life.
Here are some tips to help you along:
TAKE YOUR VITAMINS
Every woman should take 400 mcg of folic acid daily, which is vitamin B. You can take vitamins or eat a diet rich in green leafy vegetables, peanuts, grains and citrus. If you need more convincing, the March of Dimes has some great info about the importance of folic acid, which can greatly reduce the risk of birth defects.
VISIT YOUR DOCTOR
Get a checkup to ensure you don't have illnesses that you could pass on to your child. Some have no symptoms but could be dangerous for a baby. If you don't have a doctor or are concerned you can't afford one, we can help. Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County supports the Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition, so pregnant women can get the care they need to have a healthy baby.
If you smoke, please quit. Recent studies have shown that even exposure to secondhand smoke increases a baby's risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Smoking during pregnancy can lead to premature birth (before 37 weeks gestation) and/or low birth weight (less than 5 1/2 pounds). Need help quitting? Click here.
Eat a nutritionally balanced diet. That can be difficult in our society, but it will help you look and feel better and, should you get pregnant, it will benefit you and your baby in many ways. If you don't have access to healthy food because of financial reasons, organizations in the community can help, such as Palm Beach County Food Bank.
GET MEDICAL CARE
If you do get pregnant, be sure to see a doctor as soon as possible. There is a lot you can learn to prevent problems in the long run, so keep your appointments and follow doctor's orders. And during your first visit, ask for a Healthy Start screening, which is a questionnaire to determine if you're eligible for free services.
If you need help with transportation, finding a doctor or other pregnancy-related services, contact Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies of Palm Beach County.
If you need help with housing, food or other issues, call 211 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast.