In the US 1 in 8 babies is born prematurely. Premature birth can have serious and consequences and often changes how parents imagined the first few weeks of their baby’s life. November is Premature Birth Awareness month; I decided to devote a blog post to what mothers can do to help ensure a healthy full term birth.
The causes of premature birth are not clear. We know that previous history of premature birth, carrying multiples, and conceiving at very close intervals can increase a woman’s chance of going into labor. Also, there are other factors that are out of our control such as accidents, stressful events, and physiological differences.
Some factors that we can influence to reduce the chances of early birth are:
Being in good health before conceiving
Chronic conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, being over or under weight before conception are three conditions that increase chances of early delivery. If you are a woman of child bearing age it is wise to devote time and energy to being in the best health you can be in. This will not only decrease your chances of preterm delivery but also from complications to your pregnancy, and is likely to make it easier to bounce back after birth.
Eat the Foods you want Baby to Love
It’s important to practice healthy nutrition during your pregnancy. Many mothers are surprised as their baby grows into eating solid foods that their baby loves the same foods they love. It’s no surprise though,
baby learns in the womb what foods are good foods, that is, the food you eat during your pregnancy will affect your baby’s taste preferences later.
Epigenetics has shown that the foods you eat during pregnancy significantly impact your children’s future diet choices. Never really been into quinoa? Baby probably won’t either.
Do Not Diet
Dieting in the months before and just after conception has been linked to premature birth. “Even modest restrictions in maternal nutrition can lead to premature birth”. It appears that this may be due to acceleration in fetal adrenal gland development.
Include Vitamin Rich Foods
Two nutrients linked to healthy full term pregnancies are zinc and calcium. It’s important to eat foods that are high in bio available calcium and zinc. Zinc is most bioavailability in the form of red meat and poultry. In plant based foods much of the zinc gets bound to phytates and does not get absorbed.
almonds & cashews
mustard greens & kale
Smoking during pregnancy can lead to birth defects like cleft palate or lip, low birth weight and preterm birth. Smoking stunts growth, especially growth of the brain and other neurological development, by reducing the amount of oxygen to your fetus. Babies born to smokers are more likely to have ear infections bronchitis, slow lung growth.
The risk of SIDs increases as the baby’s birthweight and gestational age goes down, babies born to mothers who smoke are two to five times more likely to die of SIDS.