Your Baby - Pregnancy Tips

Lifestyle do's and dont's from Women's Health
•    Gain a healthy amount of weight. Your doctor can tell you how much weight gain you should aim for during pregnancy.
•    Don't smoke, drink alcohol, or use drugs. These can cause long-term harm or death to your baby. Ask your doctor for help quitting.
•    Unless your doctor tells you not to, try to get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week. It's best to spread out your workouts throughout the week. If you worked out regularly before pregnancy, you can keep up your activity level as long as your health doesn't change and you talk to your doctor about your activity level throughout your pregnancy. Learn more about how to have a fit pregnancy.
•    Don't take very hot baths or use hot tubs or saunas.
•    Get plenty of sleep and find ways to control stress.
•    Get informed. Read books, watch videos, go to a childbirth class, and talk with moms you know.
•    Ask your doctor about childbirth education classes for you and your partner. Classes can help you prepare for the birth of your baby.

Environmental do's and dont's from Women's Health
•    Stay away from chemicals like insecticides, solvents (like some cleaners or paint thinners), lead, mercury, and paint (including paint fumes). Not all products have pregnancy warnings on their labels. If you're unsure if a product is safe, ask your doctor before using it. Talk to your doctor if you are worried that chemicals used in your workplace might be harmful.
•    If you have a cat, ask your doctor about toxoplasmosis. This infection is caused by a parasite sometimes found in cat feces. If not treated toxoplasmosis can cause birth defects. You can lower your risk of by avoiding cat litter and wearing gloves when gardening. 
•    Avoid contact with rodents, including pet rodents, and with their urine, droppings, or nesting material. Rodents can carry a virus that can be harmful or even deadly to your unborn baby.
•    Take steps to avoid illness, such as washing hands frequently.
•    Stay away from secondhand smoke.

Make your pregnancy a healthy one with these tips from National Women's Health Information Center; American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and

You can feel wonderful during your pregnancy if you take good care of yourself. Increase your odds of a healthy pregnancy by following these sensible steps to keep yourself in top condition:

1. Eat five or six well-balanced meals each day.

2. Take a prenatal vitamin each day as directed by your obstetrician or midwife.

3. Drink plenty of fluids -- at least eight to 10 glasses a day -- avoiding caffeine and artificial coloring.

4. Don't drink alcohol.

5. Don't smoke or allow yourself to be exposed to secondhand smoke.

6. Exercise -- it's important for your general health and also can help reduce stress. Take a pregnancy exercise class or walk at least fifteen to twenty minutes every day at a moderate pace. Walk in cool, shaded areas or indoors in order to prevent overheating.

7. Get adequate sleep -- at least eight hours a night. If you're suffering from sleep disturbances, take naps during the day and see your physician for advice.

8. Wear comfortable, nonrestricting shoes and put your feet up several times a day to prevent fatigue and swelling of the feet, legs, and ankles.

9. Continue to wear a safety belt while riding in motor vehicles. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the shoulder portion of the restraint should be positioned over the collar bone. The lap portion should be placed under the abdomen as low as possible on the hips and across the upper thighs, never above the abdomen. Also, pregnant women should sit as far from the air bag as possible.

10. Don't take over-the-counter medications or herbal remedies without first consulting your obstetrician or midwife.

Sources: National Women's Health Information Center; American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

September Is Infant Mortality Awareness Month

Learn more about infant mortality risk factors and take action to reduce the risk.

The death of a baby before his or her first birthday is called infant mortality.  Unfortunately, about 24,000 infants died during 2011 in the United States.  The loss of a baby remains a sad reality for many families and takes a serious toll on the health and well-being of families. 

What Are the Causes?

Fortunately, most newborns grow and thrive. However, for every 1,000 babies born, 6 die during their first year. Most of these babies die because they are:

These top five leading causes of infant mortality together accounted for 58% of all infant deaths in the United States in 2011.

What Can You Do?

Pregnancy and childbirth have a huge effect on the health of women and their families. Pregnancy-related health outcomes are influenced by factors such as race, ethnicity, age, and income, but most importantly—a woman's health.

Good preconception health care means living a safe, healthy lifestyle and managing any current health conditions before getting pregnant. By taking action on health issues before pregnancy, many future problems for the mother and baby can be prevented.

Being physically active during pregnancy, such as walking, can reduce the risk of infant mortality.

It is important for all women of reproductive age to adopt healthy behaviors such as:

A healthy pregnancy begins before conception and continues with appropriate prenatal care and addressing problems if they arise.

What Is the Infant Mortality Rate?

The infant mortality rate (IMR) is an estimate of the number of infant deaths for every 1,000 live births. The IMR is often used as an indicator to measure the health and well-being of a nation, because factors affecting the health of entire populations can also affect infant mortality rates. Based on preliminary data, the IMR in 2011 declined to 6.05 overall, but disparities still exist. There are obvious differences in infant mortality by age, race, and ethnicity.

Medical advances over the last 60 years have helped save babies and reduce overall infant mortality. However, the United States still has a relatively poor global standing compared with other developed nations. A main reason for this is because the United States has a high percentage of preterm births. The good news is we can also help reduce infant mortality among babies born preterm by addressing key risk factors such as prenatal smoking that contributes to low birthweight, preterm delivery, preterm-related death, and SIDS.

Learn more from CDC about infant mortality.

The CW