Keeping yourself healthy is essential to the good health of your baby. Women who eat well and exercise regularly along with regular antenatal care, are less likely to have complications during pregnancy. They are also more likely to successfully give birth to a healthy baby.
In every day life it can be difficult for women to focus on a healthy diet and lifestyle. Following ten simple steps can help women to achieve optimum health for themselves and their baby during pregnancy and beyond:
(Download these 10 steps for a healthy pregnancy and a booklet from the Infant and Toddler Forum)
Drinking in pregnancy can lead to long-term harm to the baby, with the more you drink the greater the risk. The Chief Medical Officers for the UK recommend that if you’re pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all, to keep risks to your baby to a minimum.
Should you choose to drink after the first three months of your pregnancy, you should not drink more than one or two units, and not drink more than once or twice per week.
For clear advice about alcohol and pregnancy visit the Drinkaware website.
We know that it can be difficult to stop smoking. But we also know that you want to give your baby the best possible start in life.
The risks of smoking during pregnancy are serious, from premature delivery to increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth or sudden infant death. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you and your partner can do to help your baby develop healthily during pregnancy and beyond. For more help and advice visit the NHS Smoke Free website.
Having a baby is a big life event, and it’s natural to experience a range of emotions and reactions during and after your pregnancy. But if they start to have a big impact on how you live your life, you might be experiencing a mental health problem. Around one in five women will experience a mental health problem during pregnancy or in the year after giving birth. This might be a new mental health problem or another episode of a mental health problem you have experienced before. These are known as perinatal mental health problems. For more information, click here
If you have in the past, or now have, severe mental health problems, you are more likely to become ill during pregnancy or in the first year after giving birth than at other times in your life. Sometimes people who have a mental health problem stop taking their medication. If you do this without talking to your doctor or midwife when you become pregnant, this can make your illness return or get worse, so it’s important to talk to them before making any changes.
Other less severe mental health problems may also become more problematic during these times, though this might not necessarily happen to you. Everyone is different, with different triggers for becoming unwell. Women may feel more vulnerable and anxious while pregnant and after birth, so your midwife, GP and health visitor should ask you about your mental health. There is help and support, so don’t be afraid to talk about how you are feeling with your midwife, GP or psychiatrist – they will be happy to discuss your particular problem and care with you.
When you have your first antenatal appointment, you should be asked if you've ever had problems with your mental health in the past.
Find out more about mental health problems and pregnancy.
A series of 'Out of the Blue' (click here to view) films have been developed with those who have experienced mental health problems in pregnancy which aim to help you to look after your mental health, and your loved ones’ mental health, and to recognise the signs and symptoms that mean you or they might need support.
If you have had previous heart surgery and follow up by the cardiology team, we recommend that before you become pregnant, you discuss with them whether any special care would be helpful, either before the pregnancy begins, or once you become pregnant.
For mothers with heart conditions in pregnancy, living in Wessex (Dorset, Hampshire, IOW), a regional service is provided in the form of a clinic organised jointly by cardiologists and obstetricians. This is held at the Princess Anne Hospital in Southampton. Either your cardiologist or your GP can refer you there for advice and support if needed.
If you have a congenital heart problem and wish to become, or you are already pregnant, there are specific issues you may need to consider and be aware of - click here for some useful information which will hopefully be helpful to you.
Watch videos of real women and experts discuss all aspects of having a baby. From pregnancy and labour, to breastfeeding and staying well. Includes real stories, covering topics such as going to antenatal classes, coping with morning sickness, postnatal depression and vaccines.