Your Healthy Pregnancy

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Staying healthy during pregnancy is important for both you and your unborn baby. Growing a human might make you think about changes to your diet or lifestyle. Here are some top tips!

Vitamins in pregnancy

Before and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, it’s recommended that you take a 400-microgram supplement of folic acid.

This is to reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Sometimes, a higher dose would be recommended so speak to your GP or midwife about this.

A daily dose of 10 micrograms of Vitamin D is recommended for everyone throughout pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Vitamin D helps to boost your immune system and keep bones, teeth, and muscles healthy.

There are groups of people with an increased risk of Vitamin D deficiency, including people with darker skin, those who cover up their skin when outdoors, and those not often outdoors.

Healthy food and pregnancy

A healthy diet requires you to eat from all food groups. This means 5 portions of fruit and vegetables each day. Both fresh and tinned fruit and veg count.

It’s important to add protein and carbohydrates to your meals too. Good sources of protein could include meat, lentils, nuts, and seeds. Good sources of carbohydrates include potatoes, bread, pasta, and rice. Wholegrain varieties will give you energy for longer and provide important fibre.

Some foods carry a small risk of infections such as toxoplasmosis and salmonella. These infections can cause problems for your unborn baby so it is important to avoid them whilst you are pregnant. 

These foods include:

  • Raw and undercooked meat
  • Liver and liver products
  • All types of pate
  • Game meats like goose or partridge
  • Raw Shellfish
  • Oily fish should be limited to two portions per week. Tuna should be limited to two steaks or four medium cans as tuna contains mercury. This is in addition to the oily fish.
  • It is recommended that all eggs eaten during pregnancy should be stamped with a British Lion mark.

Smoking and second hand smoke

Stopping smoking is the single best thing you can do for your baby’s health. Understandably, this is not easy, and you and others in your household will be offered access to the Smoke-Free Pregnancy Team. They can support you with nicotine replacement treatments that are safe during pregnancy. They will keep in regular contact and be there for you if the journey of staying smoke-free gets tough. Continuing to smoke increases the risk of:

  • Miscarriage
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Preterm birth
  • Stillbirth
  • Low birth weight
  • Birth defects such as cleft lip or palate

After your baby is born, smoking triples the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) also known as cot death. It will also increase the risk of asthma, ear infections, and behavioural problems such as ADHD.

Should I drink alcohol during pregnancy?

The advice is to avoid all alcohol during pregnancy and whilst planning a pregnancy. Alcohol will pass through the placenta to your baby, increasing the risk of miscarriage, early birth, and restricted growth. Drinking regularly throughout your pregnancy will increase the risk of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) which can cause a range of problems for your baby from learning and behavioural, to physical and communication difficulties.
Many will have drunk some alcohol before they find out that they are pregnant. The advice is to stop drinking alcohol once you are aware of your pregnancy.

Substance misuse

This refers to illegal and recreational drug use. Disclosing this information to your midwife may be very difficult for you. If you wish, they can support you by referring you to specialist services to plan a way for you to stop. You will be offered extra monitoring for your baby. The level of this will depend on which substances you are using.

Vaccinations

During your first appointment, your midwife will also discuss the vaccinations that will be offered to you throughout your pregnancy. These are for flu and whooping cough. Your midwife will also discuss Covid 19 vaccines.

Please contact your midwife or use the following links for further information.

Explanation point

TermDescription
Spina bifidawhen a baby's spine and spinal cord does not develop properly in the womb, causing a gap in the spine.
Immune systema complex system that defends the body from infection, made up of a network of cells, chemicals, tissues, and organs
Toxoplasmosisa common infection that you can catch from the poo of infected cats, or infected meat which is usually harmless but can cause problems in pregnancy
Salmonellaa type of bacteria that can be found in certain foods and can cause salmonella poisoning.
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