Your Antenatal Appointments
Having booked your antenatal care bundle with SHEcares, you will see your midwife throughout your pregnancy, with the added assurance of regular scans. At these appointments, we will check that both you and your baby are well, and advise you on what to expect at each stage of pregnancy.
Coupled with the booking and 28-week appointment with your NHS care provider, we will be with you every step of the journey to meeting your baby.
You can read more of what to expect at each appointment here: Your antenatal appointments – NHS (www.nhs.uk)
What you eat and drink during pregnancy is what you grow your baby with, so keeping to a healthy diet is important so that you both have all of the nutrients you need. It is also important to stay well hydrated, as all of the processes happening in your body need water to happen. We advise drinking 2-21/2 litres of fluid per day.
You can read more about a healthy diet here: Have a healthy diet in pregnancy – NHS (www.nhs.uk)
We would like to draw your attention to some particularly important things to consider:
There are some foods which are recommended to avoid during pregnancy, as they may harm you both. You can learn more about these here: Foods to avoid in pregnancy – NHS (www.nhs.uk)
You may be taking vitamins and supplements. It is particularly important to take folic acid 400mcg per day, preferably prior to conception and for the first 3 months at least, and vitamin D 10mcg per day. Most ‘pregnancy vitamins’ will contain these, but be aware that if you have particular medical conditions or a higher BMI, the recommended dosages are higher. You can read more here: Vitamins, minerals and supplements in pregnancy – NHS (www.nhs.uk)
There is no research to tell us what is a safe amount of alcohol to drink during pregnancy. For some, a glass or two may negatively affect baby, whilst others may be able to drink more. Alcohol, however, has the potential to seriously damage your growing baby, with links to learning and behavioural problems as well as serious physical abnormalities. Therefore, we recommend avoiding alcohol whilst you are pregnant.
You can read more here: Drinking alcohol while pregnant – NHS (www.nhs.uk)
The many chemicals present in cigarette smoke cross the placenta to your baby and can cause stillbirth, premature birth, fetal growth restriction and is linked to asthma in children. If you smoke, the biggest one thing you can do to help the health of your baby is to stop smoking. Even if you cut down, or switch to e-cigarettes, this will have many benefits to your growing child.
There is a lot of help to stop smoking available and we know getting help will increase your chances of quitting. You can read more here: Stop smoking in pregnancy – NHS (www.nhs.uk)
Most drugs you might take, whether they be prescription or herbal, will cross the placenta and consequently affect your baby. It is therefore important to let your midwife know what you are taking, and check that they are safe to continue during pregnancy with your GP, pharmacist or midwife.
All illegal drugs will potentially damage your baby, so are never recommended in pregnancy. If you are taking any recreational drugs, it is important that you let your midwife know so that plans can be made to ensure your baby gets the necessary care once they are born.
You can read more information on medicines in pregnancy here: Medicines in pregnancy – NHS (www.nhs.uk)
Getting flu can make you feel unwell, but when you are pregnant, it can be particularly nasty. Therefore, it is recommended for pregnant women to have the flu jab during the flu season.
Whooping cough is another illness that has recently resurged in the local area. This is particularly dangerous for newborn babies. Having a Whooping cough vaccine between 20-28 weeks offers protection for your baby between the time they are born and when they are offered their own vaccinations from the GP.
You can get both of these through your GP or NHS Maternity Care Provider. Read more on vaccinations in pregnancy here: Vaccinations in pregnancy – NHS (www.nhs.uk)
During your pregnancy and once your baby has been born there are many screening tests that you and your baby will be offered. These include iron levels and blood group; infection diseases; Down’s, Edwards and Patau’s syndromes; genetic blood conditions; and baby’s anatomy and hearing. It is important that you have these tests through your NHS Care Provider, as they may impact on the care you are offered during labour and birth.
You can watch a short film to explain all of the tests here: Screening tests for you and your baby | NHS – YouTube
The Corona Virus has affected every part of our lives since it emerged in 2020. There can obviously be added concerns of being pregnant at the moment. It is important that you and your family follow all of the government regulations to keep you and your baby safe.
The government has issued specific advice for pregnant women which you can read here: Pregnancy and coronavirus (COVID-19) – NHS (www.nhs.uk)
The fitter and healthier you are at each stage of pregnancy, the better you will cope with the next stage and once your baby is here. Therefore, staying active is very important. Generally speaking, if your body is used to a form of exercise, it is safe to continue doing it whilst you are pregnant. This does not include contact sports such as netball or martial arts.
If you don’t usually have a regular exercise routine, now may be a good time to introduce one. Start gently and always ensure you either book classes specifically tailored for pregnancy, or let your instructor know you are pregnant. If you’d prefer not to do class-based exercise, walking or swimming are excellent ways to keep fit.
It is important to listen to your body – if something feels like it’s too much, it probably is, so try to ease off a little. Also, take care not to over stretch your body. The hormones in pregnancy help loosen your joints, so it is easy to damage them if you are not careful. If you are swimming, avoid ‘breaststroke leg stokes’ as these can hurt your hips.
You can more advice regarding exercise in pregnancy here: Exercise in pregnancy – NHS (www.nhs.uk)
Your pelvic floor is the saddle of muscle in your pelvis which supports your abdominal organs and normal functioning of the bladder, bowel and sexual intercourse. Pregnancy and birth, regardless of the mode of birth, put a lot of pressure on your pelvic floor. It is therefore really important to do regular pelvic floor exercises in order to help prevent any problems arising during or after pregnancy.
You should start these as soon as you find out you are pregnant. You can read more information on why these exercises are so important and how to do them effectively here: Your pelvic floor (rcog.org.uk)
We would also recommend downloading the Squeezy app for more information and to help remind you to do the exercises regularly: Squeezy app – NHS (www.nhs.uk)
Your body’s journey during and after pregnancy
From your pelvic floor to your posture, from caring for your bladder to returning to exercise, supporting your body during and after pregnancy is important. A series of short videos giving helpful tips to help care for your body can be found here: Your Body’s Journey during Pregnancy and After Birth – NHS Services London England UK – find local help now!
Pregnancy can be a stressful time and there are also a lot of hormones being released into your body, and general disturbance of sleep as your body changes. For some women, this may start to affect their mental health, especially if they have suffered previously from any mental health conditions. It can affect you during pregnancy, or sometimes once your baby is here and is more common that you may think.
If you feel you are being negatively affected by your thoughts and feelings, it is really important that you talk about this with your midwife and family. You are not alone and there is a lot of help that you can be signposted to, so there is no need to suffer in silence.
For more information on signs, symptoms, visit: Mental health problems and pregnancy – NHS (www.nhs.uk)
During pregnancy, there are laws to protect you during work. Your employer must give you time off to attend antenatal appointments and scans, and should make reasonable adjustments for you during your pregnancy to keep you and your baby safe.
You may also be eligible for benefits. You can learn more about your rights here: Work and pregnancy – NHS (www.nhs.uk)
Travel where you are still for long periods of time can be dangerous in pregnancy, regardless of whether by car, train or plane You can alleviate these dangers by getting up and walking around every 45 minutes or so, staying well hydrated and wearing flight/support stockings.
The RCOG have a very informative leaflet about air travel, but it is relevant for all kinds of travel and can be found here: air-travel-pregnancy.pdf (rcog.org.uk)
It is never too early to consider where you would like to have your baby, and you may find that your mind changes as you progress through your pregnancy. In the local area, you can choose between a home birth, birth in a midwife led or an obstetric led ward.
If you have certain medical conditions, you may be advised that certain options would be safer for you and your baby. It is useful to understand the differences between the options so that you can make an informed decision on what is right for you.
The NHS have produced a helpful leaflet on the options which you can view here: NHSE-your-choice-where-to-have-baby-baby-before-sept2018.pdf (assets.nhs.uk)