Your health during pregnancy

Exercise

The more active and fit you are, the easier it will be for you to cope comfortably with your changing shape and weight during pregnancy, the demands of labour and looking after a newborn baby. Regular walking, swimming and yoga are particularly good. It is not a good idea to start doing vigorous exercise if your body is not already used to it. Please ask your midwife for further advice.

Diet

Eat a varied and healthy diet throughout your pregnancy. Iron tablets are not given as a matter of routine, but only when indicated by your blood tests. For more dietary advice visit the NHS choices website.

Foods to avoid

The following foods may contain elements which could be harmful to your unborn child and you are advised to avoid them:

  • Soft/blue cheeses
  • Unpasteurised milk products
  • Raw meats, patés, liver, raw/soft eggs
  • Shellfish, swordfish, marlin, shark (mercury content)
  • More than 2 portions of tuna a week
  • Peanuts and peanut products

Toxoplasmosis

This is an infection which is not usually dangerous to healthy adults and children but could harm an unborn baby.  We do not routinely test for this infection but would advise the following precautions:

  • If you do not have to pick up or handle cats, then don’t
  • Cat owners, in particular, should take extra care since the infection can be caught from cat faeces—you should, for example, wear rubber gloves when changing cat litter
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before preparing any food
  • Ensure raw meats are stored separately at the bottom of your fridge and only eat meat which has been cooked thoroughly
  • Wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly to remove all traces of soil

Smoking

You are more likely to have a healthier pregnancy and baby if you do not smoke. If you need help to stop smoking you can telephone the NHS Pregnancy Smoking Helpline on 0800 1699 169 for support and advice. You can also talk to your midwife or doctor. Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has a no smoking policy which means you cannot smoke anywhere on hospital premises.

Alcohol

Recent Department of Health information advises that you should avoid all alcohol during pregnancy.  Please ask your midwife for more information if you require.

Sex in pregnancy

There is no physical reason why you should not continue to have sexual intercourse throughout a normal pregnancy. Your midwife is used to discussing this subject and is happy to help with any concerns you may have.

Medication

Generally women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are advised not to take medication that can be brought from a shop without first consulting with their midwife or local pharmacist. All prescribed medication will be provided by a doctor such as your GP or obstetrician and will have been checked to be safe to take. Please make sure you tell your dentist that you are pregnant or breastfeeding before treatment.

For more details on all of these subjects please see The Pregnancy Book given at your booking appointments.

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