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Health in pregnancy

So you are pregnant, now what? If it is your first baby you will want to get as much information as you can. Books and magazines can be a good source of information.

Your skin will begin to stretch sometimes as much as 4 times which can result in unsightly stretch marks. You can help by ensuring you apply, plenty of oil and moisturiser. Baby oil or bio oil is ideal as it absorbs straight in to the skin. Also help avoid stretch marks by ensuring you sit correctly and if possible keep your bump supported whilst lying down with a pillow.

Hormonal changes that take place can cause a number of things to happen. All of which disappear like magic just as soon as you have given birth. Sickness is an unfortunate side affect of being pregnant, this usually lasts from around 6-8 weeks until around 14-16 weeks. It can, however, last through the whole of the pregnancy but is likely to get a little better the farther along you go.

Increased hormone levels can cause increase in hair growth on the body. Some women also get an increase in melanin in their skin which results in a dark line running down your bump. Both hairs and dark lines disappear a few weeks after giving birth

How big your bump gets will vary depending on your size, your age, your baby’s size and the position of the baby. As your stomach grows you will get more uncomfortable.  

Antenatal Classes

Antenatal classes can help you in a number of ways. You will learn about nutrition in pregnancy, exercises you can carry out at home. Information on birth and caring for your baby after it is born. Some classes also cover basic first aid for babies. It is a good way to meet new friends and share experiences.

Eating during pregnancy

Firstly you don’t have to eat for two, not unless you want to be the size of two that is! You will find it easier to eat smaller meals more often, especially in the early stages when you are feeling nauseous and in the final couple of months when the baby presses on your stomach. You may suffer from indigestion during the final few months so eating smaller meals more often will help.

You need a balanced diet in order to keep both yourself and your baby healthy.  Carbohydrates are often the first thing you stop when you are trying to eat healthily but a mix of rice, pasta, brown bread and white bread is essential for a ready supply of energy needed by both you and your baby. Dairy products will provide calcium and other nutrients needed so don’t eat low fat options as your body will need some fat. Calcium is needed for the teeth and the bones and helps maintain both circulatory and muscular systems.

Both white and oily fish are good to eat as they provide omega 3 and fatty acids vital for the baby’s brain and eye development. Some oily fish contain pollutants so they are best avoided in pregnancy these are marlin, shark and swordfish. Meat will give you much needed protein but if you are vegetarian you can get your protein from nuts, seeds, eggs and soya products.

Fruit and vegetables will give you essential vitamins and fibre; you may be prone to constipation in pregnancy so ensure you have at least your ‘five a day’ if you can eat more then do. Vegetable snacks between meals are healthy and will help keep your nutrient intake up.

What not to eat

Whilst pregnant there are certain foods that you shouldn’t eat because of risks within the food itself these are as follows:

Soft Cheese – Soft cheese may contain listeria which could harm your unborn baby.

Undercooked eggs – Eggs are a good source of protein but whilst you are pregnant only eat eggs cooked solid and certainly don’t ever eat eggs in a raw state. Salmonella poisoning is a real risk.

Pate – Any variety meat or vegetarian may contain listeria and dangerous levels of vitamin A.

Raw or undercooked meats – Always eat meat well cooked, keep away from cooked foods in your fridge and always wash your hands well if you have to touch raw meat.

Raw Shellfish – these can give you food poisoning.

Foods that can help with the side effects of pregnancy

Morning sickness can last all day and all of your pregnancy. If you find yourself feeling nauseous you may find dry biscuits, dry toast or porridge will help first thing in a morning. Avoid spicy food, fatty foods, acidy drinks and caffeine. Easily digestive foods such as soups in small quantities can help avoid sickness in the early weeks of pregnancy. Most people find that the nausea disappears after 12-14 weeks but if you are unlucky and it continues you will find what things help and what aggravate it.

Water retention is another common side effect of pregnancy, resulting in swollen ankles, feet, hands and face. If this happens avoid salt and snack on fruit, particularly bananas which contain high levels of potassium which counteracts the effect of salt.

Hormones in the blood occasionally block the actions of insulin resulting in gestational diabetes. You will need to watch your weight, remain active and consult your doctor who will arrange for you to get dietary advice. Family history and your medical history will depend on what advice you get.

In pregnancy your blood volume increases in order to carry nutrients to your baby, you may be at risk of anaemia. Symptoms such tiredness, paleness can indicate you have anaemia. Most midwives and doctors keep an eye out for anaemia and will provide supplements in the form of iron tablets. Foods rich in iron are red meat, green vegetables, nuts and seeds. Breakfast cereals are often fortified with Iron. Increase the absorption of iron by taking vitamin C at the same time. Citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, limes as well as vegetables contain vitamin C.

To summarise you should have a selection of different foods spread out during the day with plenty of fluid and fibre to avoid constipation. Your baby will take the nutrients it needs and it is often the mother that suffers if there is a deficiency. Be aware of your body and make sure you report anything you are worried about to your midwife or doctor.




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