Pregnancy is a very exciting time, but for some it can be quite daunting. Especially since we all want to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to provide the best environment for our baby.

With so much conflicting information out there that it can be difficult to know what we should actually be doing though. But don’t worry, we’ve done the research for you and provided a summary of the key dos and don’ts for a healthy pregnancy.

pregnancy ultrasound

What is prenatal care?

They are appointments with a health adviser which usually include a physical exam, weight checks, a urine sample and ultrasounds. Your health adviser is also there to answer any questions you may have about your pregnancy. The purpose of prenatal care to ensure that both you and your baby are healthy during the duration of your pregnancy and that any complications are managed[1].

Why is prenatal care important?

Babies of mothers who do not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight. They are also and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who do get care[2]. This is because Doctors can spot health problems early when they see mothers regularly, allowing doctors to treat them early, which can cure and prevent many problems.

 Pregnancy diet

Unsurprisingly, diet is incredibly important to your baby’s development and preventing unpleasant pregnancy symptoms.

It is recommended, for a healthy pregnancy, you increase your calorie consumption gradually during your pregnancy rather than the common ‘eating for two’ [3]

This calorie increases can be divided by trimester

 

  1. – First 12 weeks- most women don’t need any extra calories.
  2. – 13 to 26 weeks– most women need about 340 extra calories a day.
  3. – 26 weeks onward- most women need about 450 extra calories a day.
The increase in calories should come from the following food categories:

 

  • – Lean meats (e.g. beef, pork and chicken)
  • – Fruits
  • – Vegetables
  • – Whole-grain breads
  • – Low-fat dairy products (e.g. low-fat yogurt, soy milk and cottage cheese)

caffeine during pregnancy

Food to avoid:

Raw or rare meats including liver and sushi. Some fish, even when cooked, can be high in mercury.

Raw and unpasteurized animal products, such as unpasteurised milk and raw eggs (also in mayonnaise), can cause food poisoning.

All types of pâté, including vegetable pâtés, as they can contain listeria and may contain a lot of vitamin A. It’s also important to note that too much vitamin A can harm your baby so should only be consumed in small quantities.

Blue cheese and soft cheeses with white rinds- don’t eat mould-ripened soft cheese (cheeses with a white rind) such as Brie and Camembert[4]. These cheeses are only safe to eat in pregnancy if they’ve been cooked.

Drinks to avoid:

Alcohol- for a healthy pregnancy it is advised that you cut out alcohol altogether. Drinking during your pregnancy can lead to long-term harm to you baby, with the risk increasing with the more alcohol you consume.

Caffeine- high caffeine consumption has been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage, so it’s advised to limit consumption to 200mg a day or even avoid caffeine altogether if you can.

pregnancy vitamins

Daily vitamin intake

It is recommended that for a healthy pregnancy you consume 30 mg of iron, 1000 mg of calcium and 0.4 mg of folic acid. It is also recommended by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that all women of childbearing age- and especially those who are planning a pregnancy- consume roughly 400 micrograms (0.4 milligrams) of folic acid supplements every day[5].

Vitamins to avoid

However you should not take any high-dose multivitamin supplements, fish liver oil supplements, or any supplements containing vitamin A since, as previously mentioned, too much can harm your baby’s development and lead to birth defects

Pregnant woman sleeping

Despite following all of the advice above, you may still find that pregnancy makes you feel more tired. This is not only because your body is working hard to grow and nurture your baby, but it could also be the quality of sleep you’re getting. But it’s important to make the most of sleep while you can!

Try to avoid sleeping on your back because it can cause backache and dizziness. Sleeping on your left side with your knees bent is likely to provide you with the comfiest night’s sleep because it improves the blood flow to your placenta and keeps the uterus off of the blood vessels on the right side of your abdomen[6].

Pregnancy exercise

Women are often worried about exercising when pregnant, due to fear of harming their baby. However, it has been found that physical activity does not increase your risk of miscarriage or birth defects. In fact, low impact exercises such as walking, swimming, yoga, Pilates and spinning can be very good for you. Make sure you consult your doctor before undertaking a new exercise though, to ensure that you are safe to do so.

During pregnancy, low-impact, moderate-intensity exercise activities can help increase your comfort in the following ways[7]:

 

  • – Prevents excess weight gain
  • – Reduce pregnancy-related problems, like back pain, swelling, and constipation
  • – Improves sleep
  • – Increases energy
  • – Boosts your mood
  • – Prepares your body for labour
  • – Lessens recovery time after the birth

 

You are also likely to benefit from exercising after your birth as well. Exercise decreases the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and helps improve your mood.

After birth, we know it’s sometimes hard to lose weight gained over the course of your pregnancy. You can also join our free weight management courses within the first 12 months of giving birth.

If you’d like more advice to ensure you stay healthy during your pregnancy, we offer 12 weeks of free one-to-one support. This includes personalised advice about how to quit smoking if you smoke whilst pregnant.

To find out more about what support we offer, sign up to our Healthy Baby & You programme.

[1] https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/pregnancy/conditioninfo/prenatal-care

[2] https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/prenatal-care

[3] https://healthfinder.gov/healthtopics/category/pregnancy/nutrition-and-physical-activity/eat-healthy-during-pregnancy-quick-tips

[4] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/foods-to-avoid-pregnant/

[5] https://www.aptaclub.co.uk/pregnancy/diet-and-nutrition/key-vitamins-and-nutrients/vitamin-a-in-pregnancy.html#

[6] https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/sleep-during-pregnancy.html

[7] https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/exercise-during-pregnancy/

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