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Doing your part to give your baby a healthy start

As a parent, you want more than anything for your child to be safe, happy and healthy. During your pregnancy, you do all you can to make sure your little one will have the best start in life, from eating healthy to avoiding unnecessary risks. While not all birth defects are preventable, there are certain measures you can follow and steps you can take to help ensure you're doing your part to secure a healthy future for your child from the get-go.

Of course, no matter how hard you try, injury to your infant still could occur. While some risks are unavoidable - like being a mother over the age of 34 - having one or more factors that increase the likelihood of a birth injury does not automatically mean your baby won't be born healthy. So, what are some things you can do to help your baby have a healthy start to life?

Preventative measures

It's important to remember that not all birth injuries and defects are avoidable and that you shouldn't blame yourself. Sometimes, congenital defects develop or unforeseeable complications occur. However, there are a number of things you can do to increase your chance of having a healthy baby, including:

  • Starting prenatal care as soon as you believe you may be pregnant
  • Being sure to see your health care provider regularly
  • Taking 400 mcg of folic acid daily, even before you get pregnant, if possible
  • Avoiding alcohol, cigarettes and drugs
  • Limiting your caffeine intake
  • Discussing any medications - prescription, over-the-counter, or even dietary or herbal supplements - with your doctors to make sure they're safe

You can even discuss various methods for preventing infections during your pregnancy, as some have been known to lead to complications. Additionally, if you have any of a number of medical conditions that can increase the risk for birth defects and injuries - such as diabetes - you'll want to work with your doctor to try to make sure they are as well-controlled as possible, for your own health as well as your baby's.

Other types of birth injuries

Of course, sometimes, birth injuries don't happen structurally or genetically during pregnancy but rather, occur during the labor and delivery process. While doctors cannot prevent every birth injury to you or your baby, there are a number of things that health care providers and hospitals could and should be doing that would lower the rate of preventable birth injuries. For example, doctors and hospitals could develop and employ more effective practices for identifying high-risk pregnancies before labor even begins, so that staff is prepared for any possible complications during delivery.

Additionally, practicing and drilling for complicated deliveries would allow hospital staff to correctly perform necessary treatments in a timely manner should such emergency situations unexpectedly arise. Unfortunately, most hospitals have not yet begun implementing such methods. Pregnancy and childbirth are stressful enough without you worrying whether poorly trained or negligent health care staff will injure your baby. If such a tragic event does occur at a Massachusetts health care facility, there are experienced professionals in the Newton area who can help guide you on what best steps to take next.

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