So what can you do? You can "control the controllable". When it comes to your baby, how can you increase the chances that your baby will be as perfect as you want him or her to be?
Here's what I know you can do. It will (I almost said, "may", but who are we kidding here?) require self-sacrifice and discipline. You will have to deny yourself your "treats". Welcome to the world of parenthood. Yep, for the rest of your life...to certain degrees.
Before we start, let me tell you that research from 2014 tells us that what we used to think was all wrong. It's not Momma with the most power to influence and determine the health of the baby, it's Daddy. Here's why...
1. Momma has all the eggs she'll ever have when she is, herself, a fetus in her mother's womb.
2. Daddy continuously makes sperm throughout his adult life. As a result, they are at greater risk for causing more genetic mutations than is Momma. Because father has this responsibility, he needs to take more precautions when he is considering conceiving a child.
Daddy's lifestyle habits damage the physical environment in his reproductive system
Smoking causes his sperm to be misshapened which results in infertility. Daddy's history of smoking, the length of his history and not the number of cigarettes he's smoked, has the potential to increase his child's cancer risk by a whopping 30% even if Momma doesn't smoke. This is because smoking "marks" the DNA in his sperm.
Smoking can cause varicose veins in the scrotum and because the veins are enlarged, the sperm have to narrow themselves to move through the tubes to get where they're going. This challenge is associated with miscarriage.
The death rate of infants of Dads who smoke is 45% higher than non-smoking Dads AND his babies also have a seriously increased incidence of birth defects. Overall, the smoking Daddy's newborns struggle to survive after birth.
Apparently, Momma's smoking has more of an impact if she smokes while pregnant. Her baby's birth weight is lower and so is the anticipated intelligence based on Momma and Daddy's IQ.
Mommas who are exposed to secondhand smoke have more difficulties with conception than those who aren't exposed to it.
The American Society of Reproductive Medicine tells us that 13% of fertility problems are related to alcohol. As of 2016, the Centers for Disease Control's research calculated that more than 3.3 million babies are already exposed to alcohol.
Here's something interesting. In 800 B.C., the early cultures forbade newlyweds from drinking wine on their wedding night in order to "avoid conceiving defective children". I wonder what they knew...
The ancient Greeks and Romans recommended that men not drink wine before conceiving a child. "The effects of drinking on the male body at the time of conception, and especially alcohol's effects on the male body temperature, concerned them. A cold body at the time of conception was believed to enhanced the likelihood of conceiving a female, which to the Greeks and Romans was a 'deformity'". Gee, thanks for that...
Daddy, stop drinking alcohol for at least 3 months. And Momma, stop now and don't take another sip until after you finish nursing your child. Don't drink. Just don't drink a thing that has alcohol in it..
You can't live with the consequences.
Daddy, alcohol changes the DNA in your sperm.
Alcohol also harms your sperm production.
Science now tells us that a drunk Daddy's child can have diagnosable Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). This condition is the #1 preventable cause of intellectual disabilities (previously known as mental retardation). FASD impacts the ability to develop effective thinking skills, language competence. FASD kids usually have very serious problems with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder resulting in severe behavioral and academic problems.
As infants, they are irritable and struggle with gaining weight. There are innumerable problems. Just look it up.
In my extensive experience of 24 years evaluating and treating children and young adults with FASD, none of them have matured into self-sufficient adults. Most are either homeless or incarcerated. Those that aren't are being cared for within their families. None of them are employed.
The government is unprepared to meet the needs of the legions of children with autism who are turning 18 every day much less those with FASD. There are no answers for them. They are turned loose on society.
Well, first up is conception. You'll have trouble getting pregnant. If you smoke pot, your baby will be born with THC in their brain and fatty tissues which is where it is stored in the body. Your brain is 60% fat. Your baby can't process it out their bodies the way you can because of their size and metabolism.
We just don't know everything that happens to babies born to Mommas who smoke pot. Just as with FASD, the amount of damage depends on how much you consume, your overall general health, and at what stage of your baby's development is taking place when you smoke. Just like alcohol, the day(s) during which one of your baby's organs or systems are developing might just be the day you smoke and the damage is done.
Here's what we know about pot's effects on fetal development. Is this what you want for your baby, child, teen, young adult? You can't reverse it once it happens. It's all about damage control once they're born.
1. Serious cognitive problems. Their ability to think competently to read, do math, write, and to problem solve, in general, is very impaired because, the scientists think, THC interrupts their brain's scheduled maturation process. Their individual brain cells (neurons), don't connect and create the networks they need to coordinate growth and functioning.
2. Serious executive functioning deficits. They'll struggle with organizing, sequencing, using time management, anticipating, maintaining emotional stability, paying attention, sticking with a task or even a thought, shifting gears from one task to another, plan, as well as observe themselves and "adjust course" throughout the day. Memory is very severely compromised, typically.
3. Intractable Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. This kind of ADHD is so severe that it cannot be treated to a level where the person is functional. Basically, it means it's uncontrollable. You're likely to see severely impulsive behaviors which wreak havoc in the classroom and at home resulting in social and behavioral problems. They become oppositional, defiant and uncontrollable.
4. Increased levels of anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and vulnerability for addiction as well as problems with motor movement.
5. If you smoke heavily, by adolescence, your child's head may be smaller.
6. Low birth weight. Babies with low birth weight are vulnerable to complications of all kinds including infections, breathing, and failure to gain weight.
7. Increased risk of leukemia. Mommas who smoke pot have children with an increased risk of childhood leukemia. Though medical research is making great strides in increasing the survivability of these cancers, the treatment is just brutal and children are known to have lifelong consequences of undergoing chemotherapy.
8. Problems with their spinal cord. THC interferes with a fetus' ability to close its spinal column. This cluster of deficits is called "neural tube defects", one of which is spina bifida which typically involves placing shunts in the brain to drain off fluid. The condition is associated with brain damage.
They'll fail out of school, fail to develop social and personal coping skills, will be intensely angry, impulsive, angry and hopeless and they'll take it out on anyone, including you.
Coffee. Taper back. Excessive caffeine triggers miscarriages. I don't know the definition of "excessive" so use your best judgment. Start cutting back before you conceive because you don't want to withdraw while you're pregnant and under the influence of pregnancy hormones. Yikes.
Oral Hygiene: Yes, you heard or (or is that read me?). Regular brushing, flossing and dental checkups reduce the risk of miscarriage by 70% or more! Astonishing!! The bacteria that causes gum disease is also thought to be related to premature birth and the high blood pressure condition called pre-eclampsia that is deadly dangerous. Don't neglect this part of your health care regimen.
Weight: Stay between 19 and 24 BMI. That's best for conception. If you're too "light", gain a few pounds. Talk to your doctor about your weight and how to manage it. Having a healthy weight allows you to conceive, maintain a healthy pregnancy and you'll have fewer complications during delivery.
Exercise: Start a basic and easily "do-able" routine, one that you can maintain during and after pregnancy.
Following your doctor's recommendations at all times and getting a head start on your own health will improve your chances at the "roulette wheel of life".
Now that I've told you, ask yourself if you can live with the consequences of not doing everything you can.
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