Pregnancy is a period when a woman is raising a fetus inside her. This is normally a period of 40 weeks or a little more than 9 months. No matter whether you are planning to get pregnant or you already are pregnant, you need to plan out everything and stay organized and take care of yourself and your fetus as well.
Pregnancy is an ideal time to start taking really good care of yourself both physically and emotionally. If you follow the few simple guidelines below, you should give yourself the best chance of having a problem-free pregnancy and a healthy baby.
As soon as you find out you're pregnant, get in touch with your GP or a midwife to organise your antenatal care. Organising your care early means you'll get good advice for a healthy pregnancy right from the start. You'll also have plenty of time to organise anyultrasound scans and tests that you may need.
Aim to eat a healthy, balanced diet whenever you can. Try to have:
At least five portions of fruit and vegetables daily.
Plenty of carbohydrates, such as bread, pasta and rice, as the basis of your meals. Choose wholegrain carbohydrates rather than white, so you get plenty of fibre.
Daily servings of protein, such as fish, lean meat, eggs, nuts or pulses, and some milk and dairy foods.
Two portions of fish a week, at least one of which should be oily. Fish is packed with protein, vitamin D, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are important for the development of your baby's nervous system.
You don't need to eat for two when you're pregnant. You don't need extra calories for the first six months of pregnancy. In the last three months you'll need about an extra 200 calories a day. You can keep up your energy levels with healthy snacks.
Pregnancy vitamin supplements aren't a substitute for a balanced diet. But they can help if you're worried you're not eating well, or you're too sick to eat much.
Make sure your supplement contains 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid. You need this while you're trying for a baby and for the first three months of pregnancy. Taking folic acid reduces the risk of your baby developing a neural tube defect such as spina bifida.
Also, check that your supplement contains 10mcg of vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for your baby's future bone health.
Talk to your GP or a pharmacist before taking an antenatal supplement. If you don't take a multivitamin for pregnant women, you can buy folic acid and vitamin D supplements separately.
If you don't eat fish, fish oil supplements may be helpful. Choose a supplement made from the body of the fish, not the liver. This is because fish liver oils (such as cod liver oil) may contain the retinol form of vitamin A, which isn't recommended in pregnancy.
There are some foods it's safest not to eat in pregnancy. This is because they can carry a health risk for your baby.
Listeriosis is an infection caused by listeria bacteria. It's rare and doesn't usually pose a threat to your health. However, it can cause pregnancy or birth complications. Listeriosis can even lead to miscarriage.
The following foods may harbour listeria and so are best avoided:
Cook eggs until the white and yolk are solid. Thoroughly wash utensils, boards and your hands after handling raw poultry. Food hygiene is especially important now you're pregnant.Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a parasite. It's also rare, but it can affect your unborn baby. You can cut down your risk of catching it by:
Smoking during pregnancy can cause serious health problems, for you and your baby. These risks include an increased risk of:
Smoking may even be associated with the loss of a baby at birth.
Smoking makes the following pregnancy complications more likely:
The fatigue you feel in the first few months is due to high levels of pregnancy hormones circulating in your body. Later on, it's your body's way of telling you to slow down.
If you can't sleep at night, try to take a quick nap in the middle of the day to catch up. If that's impossible, at least put your feet up and try to relax for 30 minutes.
If backache is disturbing your sleep, try lying on your left-hand side with your knees bent. Placing a wedge-shaped pillow under your bump may help ease the strain on your back.
Exercise may also give you some relief from backache. It can help with sleep problems, too, as long as you don't exercise too close to bedtime.
To wind down ready for bed, try relaxation techniques, which are safe in pregnancy, such as: