Pregnancy and baby is a complete different world for a couple; heard enough but never experienced before. When we (me and hubby) decided to start our parenting journey, the first thing for us was to find a good gynecologist. Not only she suggested us to undergo few tests including hemoglobin, HIV, Rubella (to name a few); she also advised me to ensure a good diet, exercise and to introduce Folic Acid supplement in my diet for the next three months before I conceive a baby. Honestly I had never taken any supplement in my life before, so obviously I had my own set of doubts!
Folic Acid or Folate is a Vitamin (B9), found in certain foods but mostly taken as tablets. But the main question arise that why it is such an important Vitamin to be consumed for minimum 3 months before planning a baby?
As a Mom of two kids I always have believed that a successful pregnancy is all about AWARENESS and SUPPORT at the right time. If you have the right level of folic acid, it helps in the production of red blood cells and reduces the risk of the baby being affected by Neural Tube Defects (related to the brain or Spinal Cord). And this is the reason that every woman planning for the pregnancy is advised to include approx. 400mcg supplement everyday till the 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Here I’m not just referring to my own experiences, but if you consult any experienced Gynecologist , she will surely prescribe the same. Infact the cases where the risks are even higher, like cases of diabetes, epilepsy, alcoholism, and family history of Neural tube defects; you may be advised even a higher dose of Folic Acid.
A new study has found that the considerate supplement of Folic Acid can also reduce the baby’s risk of isolated Cleft lip (with or without Cleft Palate). Sad but it’s true that many of us are not about the Cleft which is actually one of the most common birth related defects.
Cleft lip and palate that are openings or splits in the roof of the baby’s mouth and lip at the time of the birth; means the baby’s upper lip doesn’t form completely. In US about 1 or 2 in 1,000 babies are born with Cleft Lip and Palate, In India the ratio isn’t appreciable either and is estimated as 1 in 800 life birth. This implies that every year somewhere 27,000 and 33,000 babies are born with this serious birth defect.
A cleft baby may suffer problems related to feeding, speech disorders, mouth breathing, nasal congestion, hearing loss and much more (and in some cases the defect can longevity continue). Cleft can be rectified through surgery (or couple of surgeries in few cases) and in most of the cases this surgery is conducted before the baby turns a year old. But Cleft babies need an enhanced care right from dentists, speech therapists and surgeons and even acceptance by the society.
Cleft may be caused by a combination of genetic disorders and environmental factors but are also the outcome of factors like drinking, smoking and lack of essential nutrients including Folic Acid. And that’s the reason Folic Acid plays yet another important part to be included in every expectant’s Mum diet. With a vision to create Cleft Free India, ANAMAYA (a dedicated foundation for the Cleft Awareness) has launched their multi center cleft prevention program to reach out through public, colleges and schools and spreading their positive word. This is such an effective step in this regard.
Strangely but true, often people mistake Folic Acid as Multi-vitamin, please note that it’s not a multi-vitamin but a vital nutrients that naturally found in dark green vegetables, citrus fruits, Beef Liver, Eggs etc but still the Doctors usually insist to take it as a supplement in order to meet the required level.
In most of the cases we avoid undergoing the prenatal checkups andmeasures that a woman must take before conceiving a child. We assume that once the Pregnancy will happen, then only we will start taking care of the baby and the carrier Mom. On the contrary a successful pregnancy starts even before it’s planned. I had my prenatal checkups both at the time of my first and second child. And once I got to know the benefits of Folic Acid, I actually consumed my supplements even till 3-4 months (yes there is no side effects if you consumed it a little longer).
So today if you are sure to make your first step towards Pregnancy; you must know what the first and most important step to take is!
P.S. If you need more information related to the Cleft, please check the page https://www.facebook.com/Anamayaindopacific/
Image Source: http://newsmomsneed.marchofdimes.org/?p=22564