10 Risk Factors that Every Pregnant Woman Should be Aware of
by Criss White at My Baby
Many factors affect the development of a fetus into a healthy child,
some which are beyond your control and others that are within your control.
Here are ten of the most common pregnancy risk factors that can be controlled
- Smoking - Smoking is not only bad for you, but bad for your baby
as well. Smoking during pregnancy reduces the amount of oxygen that
the baby receives and increases the risk of miscarriage, bleeding,
and morning sickness. Chemicals inhaled while smoking may lead to
other health problems with the baby. Reduced birth weight, premature
birth, increased risk of SIDS, and stillbirth are other possible consequences.
Pregnant women should also avoid second hand smoke.
- Alcohol - Drinking can cause fetal alcohol syndrome, including symptoms
like low birth weight, medical problems, and behavior abnormalities.
As soon as you know you are pregnant, stop drinking. For more detailed
information on problems that can be caused by alcohol, visit http://www.nofas.org.
- Caffeine - There are many conflicting studies about caffeine and
pregnancy and some believe that caffeine is not as harmful as it was
once thought to be. Nevertheless, the FDA warns against caffeine consumption
during pregnancy and suggests quitting or reducing consumption at
the very least. Caffeine has been shown to affect fetal heart rates
and awake time (fetuses grow when sleeping). Decaffeinated coffee
can also be harmful since producers often add additional chemicals
to remove the caffeine. Caffeine can also increase risk of stretch
marks. Suddenly quitting coffee intake can cause headaches; so most
experts recommend gradually reducing the amount consumed.
- Drugs and Herbal Remedies - Always be careful about drugs or herbal
remedies that are not prescribed by a doctor. These substances may
affect the development of your unborn child.
- Nutrition - Good nutrition is crucial to a developing child, particularly
getting enough folic acid. Lack of folic acid can cause birth defects.
At least 400-1000 micrograms of this B vitamin is suggested (about
ten times more if you've already had a child with neural tube birth
defects) starting one month before pregnant and throughout the entire
pregnancy. Leafy vegetables, orange juice, and beans are some natural
sources of folic acid. Many stores sell vitamins with folic acid.
- Exercise - Moderate exercise is helpful as it improves the mother's
mental state and can increase oxygen flow to the fetus. However, over-exertion
can be dangerous. Most experts recommend reducing your exercise intensity
during pregnancy. Activities like walking, swimming, and yoga are
popular for pregnant women.
- Prenatal Care - Regular doctor visits are important to your baby's
development. The body undergoes many changes during pregnancy. Some
side effects may be completely normal, whereas other may not. Regular
monitoring by a professional will help ensure that your baby will
be born healthy.
- Multiple sex partners - Multiple sex partners can increase risk
of STD's, which in turn may lead to birth and pregnancy complications,
like low birth weight or premature birth.
- Exposure to chemicals - During pregnancy, reduce exposure to unnatural
chemicals, particularly pesticides in food. Many people now eat organic
produce, which is grown without chemicals. The simplest precaution
to take before consuming vegetables or fruits is to wash them thoroughly.
Also, removing the outer surface of vegetables can be helpful since
most pesticides will rest on the outside of the vegetable or fruit.
- Other factors - Many other factors can affect fetal development,
including heart disease, the mother's age (before 15 years and after
35 years is riskier), asthma, excessive stress or depression, diseases,
and bleeding. Consult your physician if you are affected by any of
About the Author - Criss White
Criss White is a professional web writer on baby and new mother
topics for baby and pregnancy websites. For baby shower supplies, information,
and more baby related articles by this author, visit My Baby
Shower Favors (www.mybabyshowerfavors.com). Note: If you find this
article useful, you may reprint it on your website, e-zine, or in your
newsletter as long as the credits and resource box remain in tact and
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