Prepare for baby with good nutrition, exercise

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I am ready to have a baby. What do I need to do?

This is a time very important for you and your spouse. You have planned it for long time and think this is the time. That's great.

Now the question is, what to do? It is important that you start your prenatal vitamins right away, even if you are not pregnant at this point.

You may be using prenatal vitamins for a year or more prior to the pregnancy. It will not harm you at all and it will help you and your baby a lot.

By using prenatal vitamins, which have folic acid, stores of this B vitamin will increase in your body and be available for the baby when developing.

Folic acid deficiency has been associated with birth defects in brain and spinal cord (neural tube defects). Most people do not take enough folic acid in their diet and therefore are deficient.

Folic acid intake should be between 400-600 mcg per day. Here is a list of foods which are a good source of folic acid:

Fortified breakfast cereals (look on the label to see if the cereal has been fortified with folic acid)

Lentils

Asparagus

Spinach

Black beans

Peanuts (only if you do not have a peanut allergy)

Orange juice (from concentrate is best)

Enriched breads and pasta

Romaine lettuce

Broccoli

When planning pregnancy or during the first trimester, folic acid is most important because the brain and spinal cord that form from the neural tube start development within weeks from conception (beginning of pregnancy).

Usually we recommend folic acid at 1 microgram per day for all women who are pregnant or planning to conceive. Now you are taking your prenatal vitamins, what else?

A balanced diet is also important along with a regular exercise program (3-5 times a week).

Discuss with your health provider what will be a good exercise program and what a balanced diet includes. Do not fall for the trick "you are eating for two now".

You do not need to double the amount of food, this will cause unnecessary weight gain that later on you will fight to take off. Remember that the baby is having and using everything you take or have in storage.

If it is not healthy for baby, it is not good for you. Keep up with your vitamins, balance diet and exercise and you will be happy you did when labor comes.

Dr. Evelyn Rodriguez practices medicine at Family Medical Center on Rose Street, 1120 W. Rose St.

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