Healthy Baby, Healthy Mum
The pregnancy period is one of significant change, not just for your developing baby, but for your body as well. Taking care of your growing baby also means taking care of you too.
Here are a few strategies to help you take care of yourself and your baby during these precious, yet sometimes overwhelming months.
A healthy, balanced diet is essential during your pregnancy for both you and your baby.
Managing your pregnancy weight gain
The amount of recommended weight gain during your pregnancy is based on your pre-pregnancy BMI, or body mass index (a measure of your height and your weight).
Too much weight gain during pregnancy can increase your risk for certain conditions including:
- Gestational diabetes – where a mother’s blood sugar is too high, which can lead to pregnancy complications, including:
- Large baby
- Increased risk for birth trauma
- Increased risk for emergency caesarean section
- Increased risk for type 2 diabetes
- Pre-eclampsia – a condition which causes high blood pressure, fluid retention and protein in your urine, which can cause your baby to grow slower than normal.
- Obesity – which, if not managed, can lead to a number of obesity-related health conditions including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
On the other hand, not enough weight gain during pregnancy can increase your risk for:
- Preterm birth (when your baby is born too early).
- Low birthweight.
|Pre Pregnancy BMI||Classification||Weight Gain recommendation (kg)|
|< 18.5||Underweight||12.5 – 18|
|18.5 – 24.9||Normal||11.5 – 16|
|25 – 29.9||Overweight||6.8 – 11.3|
Obese (includes obesity classes 1 – 3)
Obesity Class 1: BMI 30-34.9
|5 – 9.1|
Institute of Medicine recommendations for weight gain in pregnancy
The above table is based on women with a singleton pregnancy (only one baby) and should be used as a guide, and in conjunction with advice on healthy eating and diet from Dr Hong or your GP.
For women with twin or multiple pregnancies as well as individual recommendations on weight gain during pregnancy, it is best to speak with Dr Hong.
The flu vaccination
The flu vaccine is part of the National Immunisation Programme and it is free to all pregnant women.
The flu vaccine is safe for you and your baby at any stage of your pregnancy and significantly reduces the risk of serious complications during your pregnancy.
If you have any questions, or concerns regarding the flu vaccine, it is best to discuss your options with your GP or Dr Hong.
Listeriosis, commonly known as Listeria, is a disease caused by bacteria which is found in some foods – such as unpasteurised dairy foods, uncooked meat and unwashed fruit and vegetables.
Because pregnant women have a lowered immunity, they can be susceptible to infection by Listeria bacteria, which they can pass on to their baby. This can cause serious complications including miscarriage, premature birth and stillbirth.
Therefore pregnant women should avoid some foods which are considered high risk for Listeria, including:
- Unpasteurised milk or milk products.
- Soft cheeses such as Camembert, Brie, blue-vein, feta or ricotta.
- Soft serve ice cream.
- Store-bought pre-prepared and pre-packed fruit, vegetables and salad.
- Pre-packaged or unpackaged cold meats.
- Uncooked or smoked seafood (such as oyster and salmon).
Symptoms of Listeria may not be present in some individuals. For others, symptoms can include:
- Vomiting and diarrhoea
- Aches and pains
In order to minimise the risk of contracting Listeria it is best to follow these simple precautions:
- Always wash your fresh fruit and vegetables thoroughly before eating.
- Eat freshly cooked food that has been well cooked and has been heated to steaming hot.
- Always wash your hands before eating.
- Ensure all cutting boards and utensils are washed thoroughly, especially when they have had raw meat prepared on them.
Toxoplasmosis is caused by a parasite (Toxoplasma gondii). It is transmitted via infected animals and their faeces. If a pregnant woman is infected for the first time during pregnancy, it could pose serious risks for her unborn baby, including intellectual disability and damage to the nervous system. Fortunately, the risk of Toxoplasmosis infection in pregnancy is low.
Some simple precautions to avoid contracting Toxoplasmosis include:
- Don’t eat raw or undercooked meat.
- Always wear gloves if gardening or handling soil.
- Wash hands thoroughly after handling uncooked meat or gardening.
- Wash all fruit and vegetables, including pre-washed salad leaves, thoroughly before eating.
- Avoid handling cat litter or faeces.
Mental health & wellbeing
Pregnancy brings about enormous change with the physical and emotional fluctuations that occur during this period.
For up to 1 in 10 women these changes can lead to mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.
Below are some tips to help look after your emotional and mental wellbeing during this time:
- Don’t try to do everything! Take time to relax and put your feet up when you can.
- Reach out to your partner, parents and extended family and ask for support.
- Try to do some low intensity, moderate exercise most days.
- Eat healthy, balanced meals.
- Try to get regular sleep.
Always talk to your GP, Dr Hong, or someone you trust, if you are concerned about your mental wellbeing.
Travelling when pregnant
For women who have a healthy pregnancy without complications, travel is usually considered safe and most women can travel well into their pregnancy. However it is always recommended to discuss your individual circumstances or concerns with your doctor first.
Some things to consider when travelling while pregnant:
- If you are travelling overseas, it is recommended to discuss your vaccination status and requirements with your doctor prior to travel.
- Drink plenty of water and move about often (especially on longer journeys) to help reduce the risk of blood clots.
- Always travel with your antenatal records in case you need medical attention.