Protecting the Unborn Baby's Health

by Katelyn Schwanke
(last updated September 5, 2008)

Protecting your unborn baby's health can seem a daunting task, but as you follow a few basic guidelines it can be both effortless and effective. The following is a list of things you can do to protect you and your baby:

  • Learn about the variety of diseases that pose a risk to your baby's health. Some important diseases to ask your physician about include: HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), syphilis, toxic shock syndrome, herpes, listeriosis, toxoplasmosis, and group b streptococcus. Many of the diseases that are potentially harmful to your baby are sexually transmitted diseases (STD). Do not be offended if your doctor suggests being tested for a STD, they are not implying that you or your partner have been promiscuous (transmission of these diseases can occur without unhealthy practices or promiscuity).
  • Avoid eating shellfish, soft cheeses, undercooked meat (includes sushi) or raw cookie dough. Many of these foods carry bacteria like salmonella, listeriosis, e-coli or are high risk foods. High risk foods are those that are frequently related to allergic reactions.
  • Do not drink alcohol while you are pregnant. Studies show that consumption of caffeine (soda, coffee) may result in low birth weights and premature deliver so these drinks should also be avoided.
  • Avoid handling or petting cats and farm animals. Do not go near litter boxes or cat feces. Cats and other animals carry diseases that can result in fetal death.
  • When gardening, wear gloves so that any toxins or bacteria harbored in the soil do not infect you or your baby.
  • Try to remain calm and patient. Mother's anxiety and contention can cause stress to the baby's heart and cause harm.
  • Avoid ibuprofen and speak to your doctor about more appropriate pain relievers.
  • Exercise and a slow to moderate pace so that when you deliver you will have adequate strength to deliver quickly thus alleviating stress on your baby's heart.
  • Eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low fat dairy, iron and foliate (found in grain products and vegetables). Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to consume a large number of extra calories. Adding just a few calories a day will be sufficient for the growth of your baby.

If you have further questions or concerns, speak to a doctor, midwife or nurse practitioner. Keeping yourself informed will help protect your own health and your baby's.

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