Keeping yourself healthy in pregnancy 

Weight

If you are overweight, it is best to lose weight before you become pregnant to improve the pregnancy outcome for you and your baby. If you are overweight or obese when pregnant, it is even more important to make sure you attend all your antenatal appointments so that health professionals can keep an eye on you and your baby and help manage any risks you might face.

Having a healthy diet and doing light exercise (such as walking and swimming) is good for pregnant women.

Diet

You don’t need to go on a special diet when pregnant, but you should eat a variety of different food each day to get the right balance of nutrients for you and your baby. Most vitamins and minerals will come from the food you eat, but you will also need to take some supplements. There are also certain foods that you should avoid during pregnancy.

You might find that you are hungrier, but you do not need to ‘eat for two’, even if you are having more than one baby.

More information on what to include as part of a healthy pregnancy diet can be found on the NHS Choices website.

Exercise

The more active and fit you are during pregnancy, the easier it will be to adapt to your changing shape and any weight you may gain. It also helps you cope with labour and get back into shape after birth.

You can keep up your normal daily physical activity or exercise, as long as you feel comfortable. However, as a general rule, you should be able to hold a conversation as you exercise while pregnant. If you become breathless, you are probably exercising too strenuously.

Swimming is a great way to maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy - especially if you feel self-conscious exercising in a gym. Bradford Council has a list of all our local pools and many have ladies-only swimming sessions - providing a more comfortable environment for you to swim whilst also helping your wellbeing. 

More information on what exercise you should and should not do whilst pregnant, as well as some recommended exercises are available on the NHS Choices website

Smoking

Smoking while pregnant harms your unborn baby – stopping smoking is one of the best things you can do to give your child a healthy start in life. Every cigarette you smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals and restricts the oxygen supply to your baby.

Second hand (passive) smoking will also harm you and your baby, so if your partner or someone else in your house is a smoker, they should quit with you.

Stopping smoking will mean:

  • you have fewer complications in pregnancy
  • you are more likely to have a healthier pregnancy and healthier baby
  • you reduce the risk of stillbirth
  • your baby is less likely to be premature
  • your baby is less likely to be born underweight
  • you will reduce the risk of cot death

For more information, advice and support on how to stop smoking while pregnant, visit the NHS Choices website.

Drinking alcohol

If you are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, the safest approach is to not drink alcohol at all.

When you drink, alcohol passes from your blood through the placenta and to your baby, affecting their development. Drinking alcohol while pregnant carries risks of affecting your baby after birth. The risks increase the more you drink and can lead to your baby having learning difficulties and behavioural problems. If you drink heavily, your baby could develop foetal alcohol syndrome which can also lead to poor growth and facial abnormalities.

For more information on drinking alcohol while pregnant, and for advice and support on giving up, visit the NHS Choices website.

Illegal drugs

Using illegal drugs during pregnancy can have a potentially serious effect on your unborn baby. If you use illegal drugs, you should seek advice from a medical professional. Stopping the use of illegal drugs abruptly can result in withdrawal problems or side effects.

More information on the use of illegal drugs during pregnancy can be found on the NHS Choices website.

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