Most first-time moms agree that it would be nice if life came with some ironclad guarantees. Bringing a new life into the world is an awesome responsibility, and it can be more than a little bit alarming to realize that despite all precautions, there are things that can go wrong. This very sense of alarm, however, helps to encourage both expectant and new mothers to do what they can to properly nurture and safeguard their new baby. Thankfully, there are a great many things new parents can do to give their child the best possible start in life.
The importance of pre-natal nutrition
Having a healthy baby means providing optimal nutrition from the very start. All expectant mothers should eat a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables, making sure that they consume adequate amounts of lean protein from sources such as fish, legumes, meat, and dairy. Because micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals are essential for preventing a wide range of birth defects, moms-to-be should also take a well-formulated pre-natal vitamin tablet daily. This precaution helps to make up for small dietary gaps, which can occur even when expectant mothers are extremely diligent to consume a balanced diet.
Recent research even indicates that solid nutrition is important even before a pregnancy begins. All women of child-bearing age, for example, are advised to get enough folic acid since the presence of this nutrient can be vital for a baby's development from the earliest days – before a woman even realizes that she may be pregnant.
Only in the last fifty years has it become commonplace for new mothers to feed their babies formula. Prior to this, throughout all of human history, babies ate the diet that medical professionals now say is the absolute best for them: human breast milk.
Breast milk provides babies with exactly the balance of nutrients they need, along with plenty of calories to help them grow. It also gives them something no formula possibly can: a transfer of vital anti-bodies from their own mother's immune system. This extra dose of protection helps little ones to fight off disease organisms during the first few days and weeks of life.
Looking to the future
New mothers can also protect their baby from future medical problems in two significant ways. First, they should be diligent about having their babies vaccinated on schedule. Full protection against major infectious diseases such as measles is possible through modern vaccines, but in many cases it takes three or four carefully spaced doses to promote full immunity.
When thinking for the future personal health is an important factor to consider, examining the issue of cord blood donation through resources such as umbilical cord stem cells is a medical option to explore that may help with future health concerns. While almost every new mother has heard of vaccinations, relatively few are aware that cord blood, properly preserved, can provide a rich source of a child's own stem cells for decades to come.
Medical science is already using such cells to treat more than 70 serious diseases, among them leukemia. A child's own umbilical cord blood provides the best vehicle for such medical treatments since they provide a unique advantage: their use eliminates the possibility of rejection – always a concern when transplanted marrow or other tissues is a key element of treatment.
A healthy baby starts with a healthy mother, but to give a child every possible advantage for the future, new parents should also pay careful attention to the need for both vaccinations and a cord blood donation. These two precautions can help to improve health outcomes for a baby's entire lifespan.