Wellness in Pregnancy
Eating healthily while you're pregnant means that your baby eats healthily too.
Every day, your baby’s brain and organs are growing and it needs lots of the right nutrients to do this. Eating healthily during pregnancy can also help your baby after he/she is born, reducing the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes in later life.
And for you, being healthier overall can give you the energy and wellness needed to manage the later stages of pregnancy and then dealing with a new born baby. Keeping well, can also help lessen the risk of post-natal depression after your baby is born.
A balanced and varied diet
Eating a variety of foods will help your baby get the range of nutrients that he/she needs to develop and be healthy. These include:
Fruit and vegetables: try to eat at least five portions of fruit and veg a day, to provide the vitamins, minerals and fibre your baby needs.
Starchy foods (carbohydrates): such as bread, potatoes, breakfast cereals, rice, pasta and noodles. Try not to fill up too much on these and to eat the wholemeal versions if you can for fibre.
Protein: foods like meat, fish, poultry, eggs, beans, pulses and nuts, provide the building blocks for your baby to grow. This is because they are found in every cell of the body, making up skin, muscles, hair, fingernails and all other tissues. So they provide structure to cells and help them function properly, as well as helping cells repair themselves.
Dairy products: includes milk, cheese and yoghurt. These contain calcium, essential for healthy bones.
Foods high in sugar or fat should only be eaten in small portions.
Stopping smoking during a pregnancy has a number of benefits including:
you will reduce the risk of complications in pregnancy and birth
you are more likely to have a healthier pregnancy and a healthier baby
you will reduce the risk of a stillbirth
your baby is less likely to be born too early and have to face the additional breathing, feeding and health problems that often go with being premature
Your baby is less likely to be born underweight: babies of women who smoke are, on average, 200g (about 8oz) lighter than other babies, which can cause problems during and after labour. For example they are more likely to have a problem keeping warm and are more prone to infection.
you will reduce the risk of cot death, also known as sudden infant death syndrome
Stopping smoking now will also help your baby later in life. Children whose parents smoke are more likely to suffer from asthma and other serious illnesses that may need hospital treatment.
You can use Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT) during pregnancy, such as gum or patches, if it will help you stop smoking, and you're unable to stop without it. It's not recommended that you take stop smoking tablets during pregnancy.
NRT contains only nicotine and none of the damaging chemicals found in cigarettes, so it is a much better option than continuing to smoke. It helps you by giving you the nicotine you would have had from a cigarette.
You can be prescribed NRT during pregnancy by your GP or an NHS stop smoking adviser. You can also buy it over the counter without a prescription from a pharmacy.
Drinking in Pregnancy
The guidelines for pregnant women have been updated to clarify that no level of alcohol is safe to drink in pregnancy. The previous advice for pregnant women to limit themselves to no more than 1 to 2 units of alcohol once or twice per week has been removed to provide greater clarity as a precaution.
Vitamins & Supplements
Although a healthy diet will give you most of the vitamins and minerals you need, folic acid and vitamin B are very important for your baby and are recommended in pregnancy.
If your blood tests show that you are anaemic in pregnancy then your doctor or midwife will prescribe an iron supplement. Otherwise, there is no need to take an iron supplement in pregnancy.
There is no advantage in taking other vitamin and mineral supplements unless your GP prescribes them.
Do not take vitamin A supplements, or any supplements containing vitamin A as too much could harm your baby.
There are lots of good reasons to keep active when you're pregnant.
Exercise improves your muscle tone, strength and endurance, which may make it easier for you to adapt to the changes that pregnancy brings.
Regular exercise will:
Help you to carry the weight you gain in pregnancy
Prepare you for the physical challenge of labour and birth
Improve your mood, and give you energy
Help you to sleep better
Make getting back into shape after your baby is born easier
Give you the chance to meet other mums-to-be (if you opt for a class).
The ideal exercise in pregnancy will get your heart pumping and keep you supple, without causing physical stress. Many activities, such as running and weight training, are fine in the early stages of pregnancy, but you may need to modify your workout as you become heavier.
You'll really feel the benefit if you do a combination of:
Aerobic exercise, which works your heart and lungs
Muscle-strengthening exercise, which improves your strength, flexibility and posture
To get the full benefits, you'll need to exercise at least three times a week. Try to find something that you enjoy, as you'll be more likely to stick to it in the longer term.
Build physical activity into your daily life such as using the stairs instead of the lift and doing housework or gardening.
Avoid doing sports where there's a risk of hitting your baby bump, or of slipping and falling, such as squash, gymnastics, rollerblading, horse riding and skiing.