7 Simple Things You Can Do Now to Support Baby’s Health Down the Road
From asking questions at every prenatal appointment to prioritizing your newborn’s sleep (sometimes over your own), you’ll do almost anything to give baby the very best start in life. And often, simple things you do while pregnant or in the first year of your child’s life can have a major impact on their health and wellness for the future. That’s why we asked real parents to share the steps they took to ensure that their newborn’s health was supported now—and down the road. Read on for their best ideas.
1. “I took care of my mental health.”
“After my first baby was born, I loved him so much, right away, but I was also having a really hard time,” says Vanessa F., a mom of two in Red Bank, NJ. Vanessa spoke with her OB-GYN, who helped connect her with mental health professionals. “I knew that I owed it to my child to be the best parent that I could be, and for me, that meant the oxygen mask cliché. I had to take care of myself, which meant seeing a therapist and really giving myself the time and space to heal.”
Taking care of your mental health can help create a better environment for baby as they grow up. And it’s not exclusive to moms. Dads, too, can benefit from making sure they’re feeling emotionally supported. Because having a new baby can also be chaotic, some parents find attending couple’s therapy can help ease communication issues to create a calmer, less stressful home environment—which benefits baby, too.
2. “We asked about our family health history.”
“Something that was so helpful when we found out we were pregnant was talking with our family and learning what illnesses they had,” says Priya Jain, a mom of three in Silver Spring, MD. “I had always bypassed those questions on health visits, but I realized how little I knew about our family health history—and how that information might be important for our baby as she grew older. For example, I learned that my uncle had celiac disease. Because that side of my family lives abroad, it was information I wouldn’t have known unless I dug for it.”
Priya adds that for her, having a more thorough awareness of her family’s health history has proven helpful at doctor’s appointments. “I like feeling empowered and knowledgeable, and if my child has any unusual symptoms, I can bring up my family history,” she says.
3. “We made the decision to preserve our newborn’s stem cells.”
Lauren Kay, the executive editor of The Bump, felt anxious when a routine prenatal appointment pointed to potential concerns about her child’s heart. Even as subsequent appointments minimized her worry, Kay began digging into ways to support her son’s health. While pregnant, she discovered the benefits of newborn stem cell preservation: a procedure that collects the blood (and sometimes tissue) from the umbilical cord right after birth.
This cord blood is filled with hematopoietic stem cells. These cells, which can develop into all types of blood cells, can be used to treat some diseases, including immune system disorders, certain types of cancers, genetic disorders and more. “I peppered my OB with questions—what is newborn stem cell preservation, why would I do it, and what’s the best bank,” Lauren recalls. “My OB explained that stem cell research had been making significant strides in the past few decades.” After researching options, Lauren decided to use Cord Blood Registry®. She appreciated how she was able to speak to an educator to answer any lingering questions and that the banking process was seamless. “The collection kit arrived shortly before delivery and the hospital handled the rest,” Lauren explains.
“I craved peace of mind and loved that I would be taking a small and simple step that could benefit my family down the road,” says Lauren. Right now, these cells from cord blood can treat over 80 types of health conditions, including leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell anemia and severe combined immunodeficiency. In the future, if your child—or your child’s sibling, or even another close family member—is diagnosed with an illness, the stem cells preserved from your child’s umbilical cord could potentially be used as part of a treatment plan. This is the case even if a diagnosis occurs decades after baby’s birth. “It was an obvious choice for our second child too. While we have not needed our cells to date, I love knowing we have them, safely stored should a future need arise,” Lauren says.
Enter now for a chance to win FREE collection & one year of storage* from CBR®, the #1 newborn stem cell preservation company.†
4. “We practiced skin-to-skin after birth.”
“I had a C-section with my second child, which for me, meant I couldn’t hold my baby right away,” recalls Rachel Bond, a mom of three from Syracuse, NY. “I knew how beneficial skin-to-skin contact was, so I asked my husband to take off his shirt and get close with our newborn as soon as we got the doctor’s okay.”
Skin-to-skin contact—with mom, dad, or both—has proven benefits for baby. While it’s great if you can get skin-to-skin contact immediately after delivery, sometimes, due to medical necessity, it’s not possible. But making sure to get plenty of cuddles as soon as you can during the newborn phase isn’t just snuggly, it’s also a way to potentially keep your newborn calmer, balance blood sugar levels, enhance brain development and help your family bond.
- “I made sure to take prenatals every day…even if it was tough.”
Sure, they can be tough to swallow, but prenatal vitamins—which can be taken even when you’re just beginning to try to conceive—can support placental and fetal development, while the folic acid found in prenatal vitamins can help prevent neural tube defects.
Chantal Crosley, a mom of one in Houston, knew prenatal vitamins were important, and was glad she talked with her doctor when swallowing them caused her morning sickness to flare up in the first trimester. “My doctor suggested a few prenatal vitamin options that she had seen work well for patients who had nausea. You don’t need a prescription for prenatal vitamins, but I was glad I talked to her, or else I might have skipped taking them,” she says.
6. “We did a clean sweep of our home.”
“As soon as we decided to pursue adoption, my husband and I really made a commitment to creating a cleaner, greener living space,” says Andy Miller, a dad of a two-year-old and four-year-old based in Los Angeles. But minimizing harmful chemicals in your home doesn’t necessarily mean buying all-organic everything. Some small swaps can net major changes. For example, switching to eco-friendly cleaning products and products that have minimal chemicals, getting in the habit of removing shoes when you walk in the door and being mindful of plastics (especially the ones that baby will come into contact with) are all ways to minimize harmful toxin exposure.
7. “We talked with our doc about allergens.”
Baby’s eating solids may seem far on the horizon, but it will happen sooner than you think. And in recent years, research has shifted from waiting to introduce allergens until well beyond one year to introducing allergens to baby between the four- and six-months mark.
“I was so glad that someone at my new parents’ group told me about this,” says Katie Ford, a mom of two in Hoboken, NJ. “It never would have occurred to me. I had a lot of anxiety about it. We don’t have allergies in our immediate family, but I’ve seen how allergies affect close friends and I just wanted to be sure,” she says. “Our pediatrician was able to talk us through what to do to introduce peanuts to her at home, which was really helpful and eased my anxiety, too.”
Ready to take the first step toward supporting baby’s future health? Newborn stem cell preservation offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to treat potential health conditions down the road, for both baby and your entire family. Learn more about Cord Blood Registry, the bank most recommended by parents and ob-gyns.
*Terms and conditions apply, see cordblood.com/pricing for details
† Blind survey, Egg Strategy, 10/19, funded by CBR.
Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.