What things can I do to have a healthy pregnancy? 

Food

A healthy diet and lifestyle during pregnancy is very important for your baby, and will have long-term beneficial effects for both you and your child.

Try to follow a healthy, balanced diet based around the four main food groups;

  • Carbohydrates (e.g. pasta, rice, bread, potatoes, cereal…)
  • Fruit and vegetables– aim to eat 5 portions a day (e.g. apples, bananas, oranges, tomatoes, broccoli, leaks, carrots…)
  • Protein (e.g. meat, fish, beans, eggs…)
  • Dairy Products (e.g. milk, cheese, yoghurt…)

Try to drink plenty of fluids , such as water and fruit juices, as this helps the body to get rid of toxins and waste products and can also help to prevent constipation and nausea.

However there are some foods you should avoid including:

  • Liver and liver products including Cod liver oil supplements
  • Vitamin tablets or supplements that contain vitamin A
  • Undercooked meats and eggs
  • Mold-ripened soft cheeses
  • Pates
  • Raw shellfish or fish
  • Fish that contains alot of mercury eg shark, marlin, swordfish or excess tuna
  • Unpasteurised milk
  • Excess caffeine e.g no more than 2 cups of instant coffee per day

Folic acid

All women who are trying to get pregnant should take a daily supplement of folic acid to help reduce the risk of problems developing with the baby's spine and brain. You should also take this supplement for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, a time when your baby's spine is developing.

You can get folic acid tablets from pharmacies, large supermarkets, health food stores, or from your GP. Natural sources of folic acid include green leafy vegetables, breakfast cereals and bread. If you are on medication for a condition such as epilepsy, it is important to check with your GP before taking folic acid. This is because some types of medication work against folic acid supplements.

Smoking

If you are trying to get pregnant, or you are pregnant already, and you smoke, you are strongly advised to give up. Smoking can seriously damage your baby's development, and can also put your own health at significant risk.

You can call the confidential NHS Pregnancy smoking helpline, on 0800 022 4 332, to speak to a trained advisor who can provide you with further advice and information. The helpline is open from 12 noon until 9pm every day.

Alcohol

The Department of Health recommends that pregnant women should avoid drinking alcohol. When you drink, alcohol can reach your baby through the placenta (the organ that helps protect and nourish your baby). Drinking too much alcohol while pregnant can affect the way your baby develops

If you do decide to drink, you should not drink more than 1-2 units of alcohol once or twice a week, and you should not get drunk. One unit is equivalent to a small glass of wine, or half a pint of normal-strength beer.

Exercise

While you are pregnant, regular exercise is important to maintain your fitness and prepare your body for labour and birth. You should choose a moderate form of exercise that is not too vigorous (swimming is a good choice). You should also make sure that you get plenty of rest and relaxation.

Antenatal yoga classes or water aerobics for pregnant women (often called aqua-natal classes) are a good way of keeping active, without putting your body under too much stress. Contact your midwife, or call your local leisure centre, to find out what is on offer in your area.

More information

Further advice on how to have a healthy pregnancy: