10 things every pregnant woman must do
From choosing a name to writing a birth plan, there’s lots to keep you occupied for the next nine months. Put the following on top of your list:
1 See your midwife regularly
When the thin blue line confirms your pregnancy, let your GP know, to get the care you need rolling.
You will have regular antenatal appointments to remember, to ensure that you remain healthy during your pregnancy and baby is developing as it should.
So keep your diary handy!
2 Attend your booking appointment
This all-important appointment happens between eight and 12 weeks.
You’ll see a midwife, sometimes your doctor, and it may happen alongside your first ultrasound scan.
You’ll be given all the information you need about your antenatal care and screening, plus advice on diet, supplements and lifestyle.
Your medical history will be taken, along with blood samples. Go armed with questions!
3 Take folic acid …
If you’re not already taking folic acid (vitamin B9) supplements, start now.
You need 400mcg daily, until at least the 12th week of pregnancy, to reduce the risk of your baby developing a neural tube defect, such as spina bifida.
4 … and vitamin D
The latest recommendations are to also take 10mcg of vitamin D daily, as it’s hard to get enough from food (or from sun during winter in the UK).
This is to help keep your bones healthy and provide your baby with enough vitamin D in their first few months.
5 Get your flu jab
A recent survey by Netmums* found that 25% of women said they either chose not to, or would not have, the flu jab during pregnancy. Over a third (38%) of those women wouldn’t have the flu vaccine because they thought they were healthy, while 43% of those women said they wouldn’t have it because they don’t think it’s safe.
Studies have shown that the flu vaccine is safe during any stage of pregnancy, from the first few weeks up until your expected due date. The vaccine doesn’t carry risks for either you or your baby.
Pregnant women are seven times more likely to die from complications of flu than women of a similar age who are not pregnant. During pregnancy, the immune system is naturally suppressed, which means that pregnant women are more likely to develop serious complications like pneumonia. It may also be associated with premature birth and smaller birth weight. You can help protect yourself and your baby by getting a flu jab.
By having the jab, you’ll pass your baby valuable antibodies through the placenta, giving them essential protection for their first few months of life.
Try to have the vaccine as early in the flu season as possible. Ask your GP, pharmacist or midwife.
Find out more about the flu vaccine here: http://www.nhs.uk/staywell/
6 Protect your baby from whooping cough
As well as the flu jab, you’ll be offered the whooping cough vaccine by your GP or maternity service from your 20th week.
There’s been a sharp rise in whooping cough cases in recent years, and it can be a very serious illness for young babies, leading to pneumonia, brain damage, and even death.
But have the vaccine, and your antibodies will help protect your baby until they’re given their own vaccination against whooping cough (over three doses, at 8, 12 and 16 weeks).
7 Stay fit and active
Keeping active while pregnant will help you adapt to your changing shape, and cope better with labour (not to mention future lugging of car seats, changing bags, and a baby who’s getting heavier by the day).
Go for regular walks, and if you already exercise and are healthy, keeping up your usual routine is fine for as long as is comfortable.
You can even take up new activities like yoga (but no scuba diving and avoid contact sports like judo and boxing …)
8 Keep eating healthily
More than ever, you need a balanced, healthy diet.
Don’t eat for two; just choose from a wide variety of foods, and ensure your diet’s based around lots of vegetables and fruit, some starchy carbs, protein and dairy (limiting fatty and sugary foods).
The Eatwell Plate is your best guide.
Don’t eat foods like mould-ripened and blue-veined cheese, raw eggs, unpasteurised milk, raw meat, paté, liver and raw shellfish.
9 Do your Kegels
A toned pelvic floor (PF) is a pregnancy must.
Mastering PF exercises, also known as Kegels, can make birth easier, ease recovery and protect against stress incontinence.
Ask your midwife to explain how. Pilates and yoga teachers are often good sources of tips and techniques, too.
10 Monitor movement
You’ll probably feel the first flutters of your baby moving between 16 and 22 weeks. From weeks 23 to 30 they become more vigorous and you’ll be feeling rolls, kicks, hiccups and punches!
The NHS recommends getting to know your baby’s own movement patterns.
If you’re concerned your baby is not moving as much as normal, sit or lie still, drink a glass of cold water, rub your tummy and talk to them. This should get them active again.
Still worried? See your midwife or doctor without delay.