Encouraging a Healthy Pregnancy


For many women, falling pregnant is certainly something to celebrate, and for most individuals, the sight of a woman's pregnant belly is a thing of beauty. For some individuals pregnancy might come as a complete surprise, even if you have been planning to have a baby. Discovering that you are now pregnant can often generate mixed emotions and uncertainty as to what may lie ahead.

About 1 in 33 babies are born each year with birth defects. A birth defect is an abnormality of structure, function or metabolism (body chemistry) present at birth that results in physical or mental disabilities or death.

Thousands of various birth defects have been identified, and these birth defects are the leading cause of death for the infant in the first year of life. Even though many birth defects can not be prevented, a woman can increase her own chances of having a healthy baby by managing health concerns and adopting healthy lifestyle habits during pregnancy.

Adopting healthy lifestyle habits is of the utmost importance because many triggering factors resulting in birth defects happen very early during pregnancy and quite often before a woman is even aware that she has fallen pregnant. There are a number of steps a woman can take before and during pregnancy to reduce her risk of having a baby with a birth defect:

  • Get a preconception check-up with a health care provider. This is a medical checkup a woman gets before falling pregnant. During this visit, the provider can identify and often treat health conditions that can pose a risk in pregnancy. A preconception visit is especially crucial for women with chronic health conditions, like diabetes, high blood pressure and epilepsy that can affect pregnancy. For example, women with diabetes who have poor blood sugar control are several times more likely than women without diabetes to have a baby with a serious birth defect. However, if their blood sugar levels are well controlled before pregnancy, they are just as likely to have a healthy baby as women without diabetes.
  • Make sure her vaccinations are up to date. All women should be tested for immunity to Rubella (German Measles) and Chickenpox before falling pregnant and consider being vaccinated if they are not immune. After being vaccinated, a woman should wait one month before becoming pregnant. Rubella poses a high risk of birth defects if a woman gets infected during pregnancy. Chickenpox may also cause birth defects, although the risk is considerably lower.
  • Take a 400 micrograms of folic acid daily starting before pregnancy and in early pregnancy to help prevent NTDs. If a woman already has had a pregnancy affected by an NTD, she should consult her provider before pregnancy about how much folic acid to take. Generally a higher dose, 4 milligrams, is recommended. Women with diabetes, epilepsy or who are obese are at an increased risk of having a baby with birth defects. They should ask their healthcare provider before pregnancy if they should take the larger dose of folic acid.
  • Eat healthy foods, including foods containing folic acid and folate, the form of folic acid that occurs naturally in foods. Foods high in folic acid include fortified breakfast cereals, enriched grain products, beans, leafy green vegetables and orange juice.
  • Get early and regular prenatal care.

  • Do not eat undercooked meat or change a cat's litter box. Both are possible sources of toxoplasmosis, an infection that can cause birth defects.
  • Avoid contact with all rodents, including hamsters, mice and guinea pigs. These animals can carry a virus that can harm a baby.
  • Do not eat fish that contain high amounts of mercury. These fish include shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish. It's all right for a pregnant woman to eat up to 12 ounces a week of fish that have small amounts of mercury, such as shrimp, salmon, pollock, catfish and canned light tuna. But she should not eat more than 6 ounces of albacore (white) tuna per week. Women also should check local advisories about the safety of fish caught locally.
  • Begin pregnancy at a healthy weight (not too heavy or too thin).
  • Do not smoke cigarettes and try to avoid second hand smoke.
  • Do not consume alcoholic beverages at any time during pregnancy.
  • Do not use any drug, even over the counter medications or herbal preparations, unless recommended by a healthcare provider that knows the woman is pregnant.

Genetic and environmental factors, or a combination of these factors, can cause birth defects.
However, the causes of about 70 percent of birth defects are unknown.

Birth Date and Predisposition to Illnesses

Medical researchers from various prestigious research facilities have reported that there seems to be a link between an individual's birth date and their susceptibility to acquiring certain illnesses. Researchers at Stanford University, Southwest Missouri State University, and the Stanley Medical Research Institute in Bethesda Maryland have independently discovered a link between an individual’s birth month and the predisposition to certain illnesses and disorders.

Those with December birthdays are predisposed to respiratory syncytial virus, an infection that causes pneumonia, but that is nothing compared to people who are born in March, who are predisposed to an unquestionable medical textbook of illnesses and disorders: Alzheimer's, schizophrenia, autism, narcolepsy, Hodgkin's disease, multiple sclerosis, bipolar disorder, and epilepsy.

The scientific community has always considered the link between an individual’s poor health and birth date as nonsense, yet recent research does in fact suggest that an individual’s birth date or birth sign may actually influence health after all. This astounding discovery is not necessarily the result of any aligning of celestial bodies, but more so relating to the time of year that an individual was born.

Studies now do indicate that an individual’s birth month does appear to have a strong connection with certain diseases that may develop over the individual’s lifespan. Let us just take a look at what diseases and disorders are found to be most common for each birth month. ABC News compiled this list:

    Alzheimer's, Schizophrenia, Respiratory Syncytial Virus.
    Alzheimer's, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Epilepsy.
    Alzheimer's, Schizophrenia, Autism, Narcolepsy, Hodgkin's Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Bipolar Disorder, Epilepsy.
    Leukemia, Dyslexia, Learning Disabilities, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's Disease, Bipolar Disorder, Epilepsy, ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis).
  • MAY
    Dyslexia, Learning Disabilities, Multiple Sclerosis, ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), Parkinson's Disease.
  • JUNE
    Anorexia, Diabetes, Dyslexia, Learning Disabilities, Multiple Sclerosis, ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), Parkinson's Disease, And Celiac Disease.

  • JULY
    Diabetes, Celiac Disease, Dyslexia, Learning Disabilities.
    Diabetes, Celiac Disease, Autism, Crohn's Disease.
    ADHD, Asthma.
    Asthma, Eczema.
    Asthma, Eczema, Respiratory Syncytial Virus.
    Respiratory Syncytial Virus.

While some medical experts agree that there appears to be a pattern between birth month and disease, astrologers understand that correlating energy to month and birth signs, is tuning into the rhythms of nature.

We have been led to believe that the way to better health is more about doctors and medical technology than it is about individual responsibility and personal discipline.

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Herbs and spices are powerful preventative agents against cardiovascular disease, as they modify most risk factors as well as other illnesses and pathological processes associated with this condition.

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