Preparing for a baby’s arrival is important but charting a course for mom’s health during pregnancy is even more vital. Here are six helpful tips in order to ensure both a healthy mom and a healthy happy baby. 1.) Folic acid plays a key role in promoting a baby’s neurological development. It is also healthy for mom to intake because it is a B vitamin (B9) found mostly in leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach, orange juice, and enriched grains. In the fetus, folic acid helps the neural tube, which develops into the brain and spinal cord, grow. Without folic acid, the neural tube may not close correctly. The baby can develop spinal bifida -- a condition in which the spinal cord and/or a sac filled with fluid protrude through an opening in the back -- or anencephaly. Babies with anencephaly usually do not live long, and those with spinal bifida may be permanently disabled. “Folic acid can reduce the incidence of NTDs by as much as 70%, according to the CDC. Research has also found that, when taken before and during pregnancy, folic acid may also protect against other birth defects, including: Cleft Lip, High blood pressure, premature birth, LBW (low birth weight, Miscarriage, poor growth. In addition to protecting your baby from birth defects, folic acid could also protect your own health. Studies show it might lower the risks of heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancers. Folic acid might even help prevent off Alzheimer's disease. (Folic Acid Benefits in Pregnancy. (n.d.). WebMD - Better information. Better health.. Retrieved June 18, 2012, from http://www.webmd.com/baby/folic-acid-and-pregnancy) 2.) Get fit. About 45 percent of women of childbearing age in the North America are overweight or obese. Women should strive to reach a healthy body mass index ( BMI), before becoming pregnant. A BMI above 25 is overweight, while a BMI above 30 is considered obese. Obesity may lead to gestational diabetes in pregnant women, which increases the rate of fetal anomalies in newborns by up to five times. 3.) Instead of “eating for two,” pregnant women should “eat twice as healthy.” Pregnant women with a normal BMI should only need about 300 extra calories per day. Women who are overweight or obese may not need to increase calories at all. Pregnant women should drink plenty of water, about two liters per day. Because of concerns about infection, uncooked seafood should be avoided during pregnancy. However, most cooked fish and shellfish are safe. Shark, swordfish, mackerel and other varieties of seafood that contain high levels of mercury should be avoided, even if cooked.
4.) Avoid potentially harmful medications. About 20 percent of women in the United States who are of childbearing age are taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs, which may be harmful to unborn babies. Women should talk to their doctor before becoming pregnant about switching to safer alternatives. While many over-the-counter products for heartburn, allergies, coughs, colds, and Tylenol are permitted during pregnancy, other common over-the-counter medicines such as aspirin or ibuprofen are not. 5.) Manage chronic diseases. Mothers-to-be should be sure to manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and heart disease. During pregnancy, a woman’s heart has to work harder than before to support both herself and her baby, so heart disease during