January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month and even though I’m more than likely all done with having babies, this is still a topic I have conversations about with my girlfriends and family members who are still planning and building their families. I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems as though in the past few years, the fears have gotten much worse – partially because of dangerous pandemics such as Zika Virus, partially because we just know a lot more. The plus side to this, however, is the fact that in this information age, we also have a ton of resources available to us to help pregnant and expecting moms prevent birth defects.
In honor of Birth Defects Prevention Month, I’m not only sharing some of my favorite maternity pics, but I have partnered with March of Dimes to be a part of a month long series to spread awareness and promote the healthy behaviors that help prevent birth defects.
One of the absolute easiest ways expecting moms can prevent birth –I can’t stress enough- is to practice good hygiene. I mean, good hygiene is always important, but it’s especially important for pregnant women or women who plan to become pregnant, as some infections before and during pregnancy can hurt both you and your developing baby, causing birth defects and lifelong disabilities.
What you can do to practice good hygiene:
Wash your hands often with soap and water.
• Washing your hands is an easy step that can help prevent infections. Microbes and germs that spread illness can linger on hands after you touch something. To remove as many germs as possible rinse your hands under clean running water, lather with soap (remember to lather both the back and front!), scrub your hands together for 20 seconds, and then rinse with clean running water. Always remember to wash your hands after contact with any bodily fluids, such as saliva or urine.
Avoid putting a young child’s cups or pacifiers in your mouth.
Children’s saliva or urine may contain a virus called cytomegalovirus (CMV), which women can pass to their baby during pregnancy. Becoming infected with CMV can increase your developing baby’s risk for birth defects. Practicing good hygiene and avoiding bodily fluids can decrease your risk of CMV infection.
Pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant? Follow #Prevent2Protect to join the conversation on the following important topics and things you can do to protect your health and protect your baby from infections and birth defects:
-Folic Acid Awareness Week (Jan. 7-13)
-Well-Woman Visits/Preconception Check ups (Jan. 8-12)
-Vaccinations (January 15-19)
-Prevention of Insect Bites (Jan. 22-26)
Also, sign up now at Thunderclap to automatically post a message of support and awareness on your social media accounts on January 10:
Additional Resources for Women/Families
Learn more about when and how to wash your hands, the importance of using soap and water, and what you can do if soap and clean, running water are not available.
Learn how you can protect yourself from CMV.
Learn how keeping your whole body clean can prevent hygiene-related diseases.
Check out these eleven tips on how to prevent infections during pregnancy.