Nearly 1 in every 12 babies born in America is underweight. Unfortunately, almost all babies born with low birthweight will need special care in the hospital for serious health problems.

In order to give birth to a healthy child, it’s important to know which activities increase the likelihood of giving birth to a low birthweight baby.

Using drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes during pregnancy makes a mother more likely to have a baby with low or very low birthweight. There’s no safe amount of drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes during pregnancy. It’s important to completely stop while you’re pregnant.

Pregnant women who smoke are nearly twice as likely to have a low birthweight baby than women who don’t smoke during pregnancy. Quitting increases the amount of oxygen your baby gets, which helps your baby to grow to a healthy weight and develop properly. Remember, when you smoke, your baby smokes, too.

Chronic health conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart, lung, and kidney problems, also increase the likelihood of giving birth to a low birthweight baby. You should work with your doctor to make sure any chronic condition is under control during your pregnancy.

Women who don’t gain enough weight during pregnancy are also more likely to have a low birthweight baby than women who gain the right amount of weight. It’s important to eat a healthy, balanced diet to gain just the right amount of weight. Every pregnancy is different so you should talk to your doctor about how much weight you should gain during pregnancy.

Changes to your lifestyle will help your baby grow to a healthy weight and increase the chances that your baby will go home from the hospital with you. Talk to your doctor about what you can do to reduce the likelihood of giving birth to an underweight child.