Your Baby Is Blooming | You & Your Health
Deciding to have a baby can feel like a frightening decision, but it can also be an enjoyable and exciting time. Try not to feel overwhelmed by the amount of information there is for women who are trying to get pregnant. Our simple, useful tips will help maximise the health and reduce the risk to both you and your baby throughout and after the pregnancy.
As soon as you plan a pregnancy, a supplement of folic acid should be taken daily to prevent spinal cord defects in the baby. The normal dose is 400 micrograms, but in certain conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes, a BMI over 30 or history of spinal cord defects, a prescription for 5mg is required. The folic acid should be continued for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Vitamin D 10mg should also be taken daily throughout and whilst breast feeding to build strong bones in the baby.
Iron may be necessary, but only if your routine blood tests indicate this.
However, vitamin A should not be taken as high doses may cause eye problems in the baby.
A good diet including foods rich in calcium such as dairy products, green leafy vegetables and dried fruits is essential for development of teeth and bones. Fruit and vegetables are also necessary because they contain vitamin C, which is needed for healthy cell formation.
Be aware that some foods should be avoided: these are raw or soft eggs; soft cheese with white rind eg Brie; soft blue cheese; pate; raw or pink meat; raw shellfish; meat that has been cured but not cooked eg salami; and sushi that has not been frozen. This is because harmful bacteria like Salmonella, Listerea or parasites such as Toxoplasmosis Gondi may be present. The toxoplasmosis parasite is also found in cat faeces so be careful when gardening and avoid changing the cat litter tray.
Try to give up smoking before becoming pregnant – 11% of mothers still smoke when they are pregnant. Chemicals from smoking pass into the baby’s blood and can slow growth, also they increase the risk of miscarriage – 5,000 miscarriages a year are linked to smoking. Nicotine replacement patches are better for people who cannot give up, but it is important to give it up if you can.
Alcohol can cause brain damage to a baby and is best avoided altogether. It passes into the blood stream via the placenta and it cannot be processed by the baby’s developing liver.
Between 28 and 32 weeks into the pregnancy, women are now advised to have a whooping cough (Pertussis) vaccine. Infant immunisation starts at two months old, so the mother’s vaccine protects the tiny baby for those first two months. It is given to the mother as a combined vaccine with diphtheria, polio and tetanus.
The flu vaccine should be given in September when the new batch is released as complications of flu can be more serious in pregnant women.
German measles (rubella) is normally a mild disease, but it can cause serious damage to an unborn child. Rubella vaccine is incorporated with mumps and measles vaccine and given routinely during childhood. If you are planning a pregnancy, it is advisable to have blood test to check immunity to rubella. If this is low, then as long as you are not already pregnant, the vaccine can be administered. You must then wait at least a month before getting pregnant. Any mother who has no immunity to rubella and is already pregnant must avoid contact with anyone with German measles.
Remember, if you have any concerns or questions; please speak with your pharmacist, doctor or community contraceptive (family planning) clinic.
I wish you a happy and healthy pregnancy,