Stay well in pregnancy

4D Baby Scan
Being pregnant is an amazing life-changing event and after the first trimester – when it’s common to feel nauseous and tired – you’ll usually feel blooming.

Yes, we know it can be a worrying time too – there are certain foods you should avoid such as pates and blue cheeses, and it’s best not to drink alcohol or take any medicines without discussing it with your doctor first, but there are plenty of foods and drinks that are perfectly safe to eat and drink and most activities you’d normally do are fine too, (with a few exceptions).

The secret of a healthy pregnancy is just avoiding a handful of hazards but focusing on all the positive things you can do for the good of you and your baby – such as eating well, taking exercise, getting enough sleep and reducing your stress levels.

Pregnancy scans can also give reassurance about your baby’s health and development – so don’t forget you can book scans privately from as early as six weeks, as well as have those provided free on the NHS.

Here are our tops tips for the do’s and don’ts of pregnancy health and wellbeing.

Staying well in the first trimester

  • Coping with pregnancy sickness: Many pregnant women suffer from nausea and sickness in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, due to hormone surges. You might find that certain foods or drinks, such as greasy fry ups, coffee, tea or alcohol may trigger nausea, as well as certain odours such as petrol or cigarettes. Avoid these triggers where possible and try to eat little and often – choosing starchy carbohydrates such as toast or ginger biscuits and cutting down on fatty foods. Sipping fluids to keep hydrated is also important and resting if you feel tired, as tiredness makes nausea worse. 

  • Taking supplements: All pregnant women and those trying to conceive are advised to take a 400-mcg folic acid supplement prior to conception and in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy to reduce the chances of their baby developing the neural tube defect Spina bifida. Pregnant and breastfeeding women and all adults are also recommended to take a 10mcg a day vitamin D supplement for healthy teeth, bones and muscles. 

  • Spotting and bleeding: You may experience these symptoms in the first 12 weeks and in some - but no means all - cases they may be a sign of miscarriage. If you need extra reassurance that your pregnancy is still progressing in the first few weeks you can book an early scan privately with Ultrasound Direct any time after 6 weeks.

  • Tiredness and anxiety: It’s common to feel overwhelmingly tired and wiped out in the early weeks of pregnancy, so try and pace yourself so you get enough sleep and don’t overdo it. This is a temporary stage and you should get your energy back in the next trimester. You may also feel anxious about your baby and the risk of miscarriage in the early weeks, talk to your GP or midwife is this is the case. You may also want to book an early scan for reassurance.

  • Book in with your GP or midwife for antenatal care: It’s important you do this because you’ll need blood tests, scans, and check-ups throughout your pregnancy. At your first NHS appointment you will be offered a booking or dating scan to date your pregnancy and check your pregnancy is progressing normally. These scans are also available privately from Ultrasound Direct.

Wellness tips for the second trimester

The good news is that the nausea, sickness and feelings of exhaustion should ease off now and you’ll begin to get your energy back.

  • Eat healthily (and don’t eat too much): You really don’t need extra calories for the baby even if you are having twins or triplets, so don’t treat pregnancy as a licence to eat cake. Most women gain between 10kg and 12.5kg (22lbs to 26lbs) and most of that will go on in the last trimester. As a rule of thumb, eat a wide, varied diet with lots of fruit and vegetables, as well as starchy carbohydrates such as bread, potatoes, breakfast cereals and pasta and protein sources such as beans, pulses, fish, meat, eggs poultry and nuts, as well as dairy foods such as milk and cheese. Aim to eat two portions of fish a week one of which should be oily fish such as salmon or mackerel. 

  • Foods to avoid: There some foods that you should avoid in pregnancy because they pose health risks. These include some soft cheeses with white rinds such as brie and camembert and soft blue cheese such as Danish blue and gorgonzola. You should also avoid liver and pates, because of the risk of infection from listeria bacteria. Also avoid eating shark, marlin or swordfish.

  • Stay active: Being pregnant doesn’t mean you should put your feet up for nine months. Being fit and healthy may help you get back into shape quicker after the birth. Within reason and with a few exceptions, you can carry on with your normal activities – so if you’re normally a runner or a gym/yoga bunny you can continue. Just be sensible and aim not to exert yourself too much – you should be able to hold a conversation while you are exercising. Avoid scuba diving and contact sports such as judo, kickboxing or squash and approach other sports such as skiing or cycling with caution.

  • Keep up with your appointments: See your midwife for blood pressure, urine and blood tests to check for conditions such as high blood pressure, gestational diabetes and anaemia. Also attend the 20-week scan sometimes known as the anomaly scan, probably the most important scan you’ll have in pregnancy as the sonographer will do a thorough check of all your baby’s internal organs and if you request, determine the sex of your baby.  These are also available from Ultrasound Direct privately between 19 and 24 weeks.

How to stay healthy in the last 12 weeks

The last few weeks can be the most uncomfortable and tiring, as your bump is getting bigger and it may more difficult to sleep at night.
  • Get some rest: If you’re being kept awake at night by your baby kicking or your back aching try and catch up with sleep at weekends, or if you’re on maternity leave take some daytime naps. Use pillows to make yourself comfortable at night.

  • Manage your stress levels: Try not to get too het up about your “to do” list – trust us it will all get done! If you take a few minutes to practise some relaxation or meditation techniques it will help keep your blood pressure down.

  • Stop worrying about the baby: If you do have any concerns about your baby’s health talk to your midwife – particularly if it’s late in pregnancy and you’re not feeling your baby move. You can always book a private growth scan or presentation scan to check your baby is growing as expected and is getting in the right position for birth.