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Health in pregnancy

Folic acid

If you haven't already started taking folic acid, the NHS recommends that you start taking 400mcgs of Folic Acid in the first trimester (conception through to 12 weeks).

This has shown to significantly decrease any neural tube defects such as spina bifida.

If you are diabetic, epileptic, have a family history of neural tube defects such as spina bifida or a BMI over 30, please see your GP, as you may need a higher dose.

Diet

Eating a well-balanced diet rich in nutrients will help your baby to develop and grow. There is no specific diet to follow, but ensuring a balance is key. There are a number of foods you should avoid in pregnancy - please visit:

Have a healthy diet in pregnancy - NHS website

Foods to avoid in pregnancy - NHS website

Smoking

Smoking in pregnancy is very harmful to your health and the health of your baby.

Stopping smoking will help both you and your baby immediately, and reducing smoking means harmful gases, such as carbon monoxide, and other damaging chemicals will clear from your body.

Smoking is linked to pregnancy loss, premature birth, miscarriage and still birth.

Smoking in pregnancy also increases the risk of:

  • low birth weight
  • problems with your baby's ears nose and throat
  • higher chance of your baby having conditions later in life, such as:
    • respiratory conditions
    • obesity
    • diabetes.

The sooner you stop smoking, the better, but even if you stop in the last few weeks of your pregnancy this will benefit you and your baby.

Talk to your midwife or GP about services to help you quit, and visit:

Stop smoking in pregnancy - NHS website

Smoking cessation - Oxford University Hospitals

Alcohol

While evidence is unclear on how much alcohol is harmful during pregnancy, the Chief Medical Officer advises avoiding alcohol altogether. Drinking in pregnancy can lead to long-term harm to the baby: the more you drink, the greater the risk.

Drinking alcohol while pregnant - NHS website

If you are worried about your drinking and need support, please speak to your GP or midwife or contact Turning Point Oxfordshire.

Healthy weight

It is important for both you and your baby to have a healthy weight in pregnancy; but if you are overweight and pregnant, it is important to lose weight in a healthy and supported way. Please speak to your midwife or GP about how they can help you.

How much weight will I put on during my pregnancy? - NHS website

Eating a well-balanced diet combined with physical activity is always beneficial - remember, exercise doesn't have to be strenuous to do you good. Exercise in pregnancy is very important for the health of your baby as well as you. Speak to your midwife about what activity you currently do, and how this might need to change during pregnancy.

Mental health

Pregnancy can be a joyful time, but sometimes it can be stressful and difficult.

There is no normal way to feel during pregnancy and everyone is different. Mental health difficulties during pregnancy and in the months after giving birth can happen to anyone.

For information on how we can help you and your family, please see Mental health.

Last reviewed:07 February 2022