LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - While Louisiana is one of the top ten states when it comes to early and regular pre-natal care, we rank near the bottom of the list for high rates of infant death and premature birth. In this Healthcast, we find out what moms-to-be need to do in order to have a healthy pregnancy and baby.
Lynda Veronie has her hands full between a new pregnancy, an energetic toddler, spending time with her husband, wrapping up college and working as a gymnastics coach. With so much on her plate, she knows she has to be careful when it comes to staying healthy for her and her baby. "I changed my eating habits," says Lynda, "I started eating more healthy, more vegetables. I started taking multi-vitamins and I also stopped doing the high impact activities that I used to do."
A woman is most likely to have a healthy baby if she is living a healthy life before she gets pregnant. Lake Charles Memorial Hospital neonatalogist, Dr. Juan Bossano says this is especially important in lessening the chances for a pre-term delivery. "Many times women don't find out that they're pregnant until a little bit late," says Dr. Bossano, "a few weeks at that time a lot of the factors that could produce prematurity or problems with the baby are already in place."
There are plenty of cases where moms do everything right and their babies still come early. Nancy Roach is the Regional Coordinator for Fetal and Infant Mortality Review. She says lifestyle changes like cutting out alcohol, drugs, cigarettes and poor dietary habits need to be a priority for moms-to-be. "It's beneficial to them and it also helps to ensure that they're doing everything they can to make sure they have a healthy full-term baby," says Nancy.
Folic acid, or Vitamin B is also found in many foods, can reduce the risks of having a baby with medical defects or a pre-term delivery. "We know already that it helps reduce the risk of having serious brain and spinal cord birth defects," says Nancy, "there's new research that's starting to show there's a possibility that it may help reduce the risks of having a pre-term birth."
It's just one more step that moms like Lynda are taking to make themselves and their babies as healthy as possible. "As a mother and as a mother-to-be for another," says Lynda, "I'm very proud to take this responsibility very seriously - that I'm doing everything I possibly can to make sure that it's healthy."
If you are a pregnant woman in Louisiana, there are several programs in place to help you throughout your pregnancy.
From free folic acid tablets to mentoring for first-time moms, here's a list of some programs that can help you become a healthier mom to a healthy baby.
*The Folic Acid Project: offers free folic acid to women who receive services at any of the family planning clinics available in public health units across the state.
*LAMoms: a Medicaid program that provides medical and dental care to many Louisiana women while they are pregnant.