According to the Children's Hospital Boston, the average weight of a newborn is 7.6 pounds. If your baby weighs below 5.5 lbs. when born, he has a low birth weight. A baby's birth weight is influenced by many factors ranging from the size of the mother's uterus and her medical health, to the age of the mother and her dental condition. To prevent having a low birth weight baby, there are various precautions you can take before and during your pregnancy.
Stop smoking tobacco, if you smoke. Stop as soon as you decide to get pregnant. Stopping before getting pregnant lowers the risk of low birth weight. According to The Annie E. Casey Foundation, the risk of having a low birth weight baby doubles, if you are a smoker. If you are already pregnant, stop smoking as soon as you can.
Avoid illegal drugs and alcohol. According to the Children's Hospital Boston, alcohol and drugs increase your risk of having a baby with low birth weight.
Eat a healthy diet while pregnant, so you and your baby gain weight at a healthy rate. Gain up to 4 lbs. during the first three months of your pregnancy and 1 lb. for each week after this. Consume between 100 to 300 calories extra per day. Eat a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy, lean protein, such as chicken and turkey, and unsaturated fats, such as olive oil. Grill, broil, bake or boil your food. Avoid fried foods and foods high in sugar, salt and fat.
Take prenatal vitamins to assure you and your baby get all the required nutrients. While growing your baby needs a wide range of nutrients. Folic acid, iron and calcium are three of the most important ones and are prominent in prenatal vitamins.
Visit your dentist for checkups at least twice a year -- or whenever you have dental issues. Tooth decay and gum disease can cause infections that can be transported into the placenta through your blood, and affect your baby's birth weight.
Schedule regular prenatal doctor's visits. Your doctor is able to detect early on whether there are factors that can influence your baby's growth. He monitors your weight gain and your baby's growth and he can treat chronic conditions you may have, such as diabetes and hypertension, which can affect your baby's weight.
Practice breathing techniques to stay relaxed and reduce stress, because stress can contribute to low birth weight in babies. Sit comfortably and take a deep breath through your nose to fill your lungs with air. Exhale all the air through your mouth. While breathing your stomach should naturally move up and down. Continue breathing until your stress reduces.
- Children's Hospital Boston: Low Birthweight in Newborns - Overview
- The Annie E. Casey Foundation: Preventing Low Birth Weight; July 2009
- Children's Hospital Boston: Low Birthweight in Newborns - In-Dept
- WebMD: Pregnancy and Weight Gain
- MayoClinic: Prenatal vitamins; OK For Women Who Aren't Pregnant; Katherine Zeratsky; Aug. 2009
- Expectant Mother's Guide: Low Birth Weight in Infants; Ann M. Wilson
- Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images