Your Health and Well-being in Pregnancy

Your midwife will discuss your general health throughout your pregnancy and will offer to develop a personalised plan signposting you to information and resources to support you to be as healthy as possible.

Diet

What should you eat?

A healthy diet is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and is especially important if you are pregnant as this will help your baby to develop and grow. You do not need to have a special diet, but it is important to eat a varied and healthy diet throughout your pregnancy so that you get the right balance of nutrients.

Ideally, you should get vitamins and minerals from the food that you eat, but when you are pregnant you need to take a folic acid supplement as well.

What foods should you avoid?

The following foods may contain elements, which could be harmful to you or your unborn baby, so you are advised to avoid them:

  • Shellfish, swordfish, marin, shark, more than 2 portions of tuna a week (this is due to the mercury content)
  • Soft/blue cheeses
  • Unpasteurised milk products
  • Raw meats, liver, pate, raw or soft eggs
  • Peanuts and peanut products

Exercise

The more active and fit you are, the easier it will be for you to cope comfortably with your pregnancy, the birth and looking after a newborn baby. Do not start vigorous exercise if this is not already part of your normal lifestyle. Walking, swimming and yoga are particularly good and your midwife can chat you through any advice you need.

Smoking

Protecting your baby from tobacco smoke is one of the best things you can do to give your child a healthy start in life. Cigarettes contain harmful chemicals, so smoking when pregnant harms your baby. Giving up smoking is hard, but your midwife will be able to support you and can refer you to services that can help you to stop smoking

Alcohol

The most recent Department of Health information advises that women who are pregnant should avoid all alcohol. Your midwife will be able to give you more information if required.

Medication

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are generally advised not to take medication that can be bought from a pharmacy or shop without first consulting their midwife, pharmacist or GP. Prescribed medication will be provided by a doctor after confirming that it is safe for you to take. It is important that you tell your dentist you are pregnant before you receive any treatment.

Toxoplasmosis

This is an infection that is not dangerous to healthy adults and children but can harm an unborn baby. We do not routinely test for this infection but it can be avoided by following this important advice:

  • Cat owners should take care since the infection can be caught from cat faeces. It is advisable to use rubber gloves when gardening or cleaning a cat litter tray
  • Wash your hand thoroughly before preparing food
  • Ensure red meats are stored separately at the bottom of the fridge and only eat meat that has been cooked thoroughly
  • Wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly to remove traces of soil

Sex in Pregnancy

There is no physical reason why you should avoid sexual intercourse during a normal pregnancy. Chat to your midwife if you have any other questions.

More Information

Tommy’s, a pregnancy charity provides healthy lifestyle information in bite-sized chunks

Tommy’s also has a handy healthy pregnancy tool that will tell you all you need to know

NHS information on how to look after yourself and your baby while you’re pregnant can be accessed here