What if there was one simple thing you could do while pregnant to not only improve the health of your baby, but also your own health? Turns out, there is.
Pregnancy is a natural and beautiful process, but it’s also mysterious and complex. You don’t actually know the whole of your baby’s health picture until the day you deliver, but the simple act of getting prenatal care dramatically improves your chances of delivering a healthy baby. Prenatal care saves babies’ lives, but in ways that you might not have thought about.
Reduced Congenital Disorders and Miscarriages
At least 6% of abortions occur because women discover their baby has a congenital disorder, also known as a birth defect. And many miscarriages occur due to a genetic or congenital abnormality. Since up to 10% of these birth defects are actually preventable, prenatal care can help you learn what lifestyle choices put your baby at greater risk, how you can improve your chances at a healthy, successful pregnancy.
A number of things have the potential to cause congenital disorders. Most notably are drugs, alcohol, and some prescription or over-the-counter medications. Lesser known culprits include certain foods and environmental factors.
Other factors are at play, too. If you are obese, you are at greater risk of birthing a baby with certain birth defects, as are you if you don’t exercise regularly or don’t get adequate nutrition. Prenatal care can help you learn about and identify your risk factors, and can even help you access support for specific needs, like smoking cessation or nutrition counseling.
Prenatal Screenings for Better Medical Intervention
When you’re receiving quality prenatal care, you’ll be offered several opportunities to screen for congenital conditions. Many pro-life parents opt out of this testing, as they are committed to carrying their baby to term regardless of the screening outcome.
And while it’s true that some individuals use these screenings to determine whether their pregnancy should be continued, the truth is that prenatal screenings are valuable tools to help determine the best course of medical treatment for mother and baby both during and after pregnancy.
Prenatal screenings are not diagnostic tools intended to be used to determine pregnancy viability, but instead, are meant to give an indication as to whether further testing may be warranted so you can receive the best medical care possible to treat any condition that may be discovered.
If a congenital disorder is diagnosed through prenatal testing, you may be advised to undergo medical treatment while you’re pregnant. This could range from best rest to weekly ultrasounds to taking medication. Some babies even undergo surgery in the womb (called “fetal surgery”) to repair life-threatening birth defects and increase their chances at having a normal, healthy life.
Better Preparation for Postnatal Conditions
Other conditions cannot be treated while in utero but need immediate medical attention upon birth. Knowing these conditions in advance of delivery can help you and your medical team be prepared when your baby arrives. Specialists can even be in the delivery room ready to administer life-saving support right away, and you can be fully educated about your child’s condition so you are prepared to advocate for them and make well-informed medical decisions from their first moment of life outside the womb.
While prenatal screening and genetic testing have developed an unfortunate reputation for determining whether a pregnancy “should” be continued, the truth is that they have immense medical and therapeutic value. Opting to participate in screenings doesn’t say anything about your commitment to carrying your child to term other than that you are 100% committed to their medical care – regardless of the screening outcome.
The Bottom Line
Each year 1.3 million pregnant women get inadequate prenatal care, and over 15,000 unborn babies develop birth defects that are preventable. With many women choosing abortion due to congenital disorders and many babies with medical needs that go undetected (and untreated) prior to birth, this adds up to a HUGE number of children who are at risk of never getting a chance at life.
Improved prenatal care, better education, and increased screenings to identify children who need critical interventions both before and immediately after birth can not only save lives, but also have a huge impact on the quality of life of babies that are born with special needs.