Pregnancy and Lifestyle

10 SMB preg and lifestyle

A first pregnancy can be mystifying – especially if it has been long-awaited.  The following is general advice for all pregnant women – any questions about the progress of any specific pregnancy should be referred to a GP, ante-natal midwife, or NHS Direct (111).

The Medical Stuff

 meds2 Medicines -a number of medicines such as cold and flu remedies also contain caffeine. Apart from reading the labels, it’s always worth checking with a pharmacist when buying any medication and ask for their advice. Any pregnant woman should also check with her GP about prescription medications as it may need to be altered or changed. After a positive pregnancy test the woman should not stop taking any prescribed medication however without first consulting her GP.
 preg scan Scans – if a pregnancy has been achieved via a fertility clinic, scanning will have been frequent before discharge from the unit. The first NHS pregnancy scan is around 12 weeks for dating, then another at around 20 weeks to check for any anomalies and look at baby’s development.  Any further scans will only be booked if they are necessary.  The wait between NHS scans can feel lengthy, particularly if mum-to-be is anxious about the pregnancy.  Private scans are available IVI Midland for reassurance during the first trimester (6-12 weeks). This can provide reassurance for mum to be and family and a great opportunity to see your baby! Private scans do not replace NHS scans and it is important that any pregnant woman attends all NHS appointments she is asked to.
 blood spots Vaginal bleeding – pregnant women shouldn’t experience any bleeding during pregnancy.  If there is any spotting or bleeding during any stage of pregnancy she must contact her GP, midwife or hospital.
 headache Feeling dizzy or light-headed – this could be a sign of blood pressure variations. If a pregnant woman experiences headaches and dizziness it is important that she contacts her midwife or doctor to have her blood pressure taken.
 swollen feet Swollen feet and ankles – some bloating and swelling can be normal in pregnancy but it can also be a sign of pre eclampsia. If hands and feet are swollen and mum-to-be experiences headaches, blurred vision, dizziness and abdominal pain, seek medical advice immediately.
 scratch Itchy skin – some pregnant women can experience itchy skin as it stretches, particularly as her bump gets bigger.  However, during the third trimester, to have persistent itching may be a sign of obstetric cholestasis.  Mum-to-be should contact her doctor or midwife with any concerns.
 nauseous Sickness – hyperemesis or ‘morning sickness’ can be a common complaint in pregnancy. Some women suffer more than others and the sickness can range from a mild nauseous feeling, to extreme vomiting throughout the day which can cause dehydration.Eat little and often rather than large meals with many hours in between. Also, eat what tastes good and try not to worry too much about not eating the ‘correct’ things if they really won’t stay down. It is also important to stay hydrated by sipping water with lemon or barley water where possible.Ginger has been a natural remedy to sickness for centuries and can be used by grating ginger root into water to make a ginger tea. Ginger biscuits may suffice quickly but are not to be eaten to excess as they contain high levels of sugar. Ginger can have the adverse effect on blood clotting medication though so always check with the GP before taking ginger during pregnancy.

The Keep-Away-From Stuff

 pink cross Smoking – is not safe for any unborn child as the toxins are absorbed into the blood stream and transferred to baby through the placenta. For help to stop smoking visit a GP or talk to NHS smoking services that can offer support and advice.
 pink cross Illegal drugs – it is not safe to take any form of illegal drugs when trying to conceive or during pregnancy. The content of illegal drugs is uncertain and therefore the effects are unpredictable on mother and baby. Illegal drugs can cause permanent harm to the unborn baby and even pre-natal death.

 The Feel Good Stuff

 exercise2 Exercise – staying active is vital to physical and mental well-being during pregnancy but it is also vital that it is not ‘overdone’.   Seek advice from the gym and exercises can be tailored to suit each stage of pregnancy.  Swimming is a beneficial exercise, particularly in later pregnancy, as it takes the weight off the joints.  Care should be taken with any exercise during the stages of pregnancy particularly if mum to be is feeling tired or unwell.
 relaxation Relaxation – pregnancy is a wonderful time but can be stressful for mum-to-be and family. Everyday stresses can affect people differently when pregnant, and pregnancy itself can be stressful for some.  It is important to manage stress during pregnancy for both mum and baby’s health.  Relaxation techniques can help reduce stress and help make pregnancy enjoyable. Pregnancy yoga not only tones and stretches the body, but teaches breathing, relaxation and meditation techniques. These techniques are good for helping to control anxieties. Massage is also a great way to de-stress. But some essential oils are not recommended for pregnant women, so always check before using them. Other effective ways of managing stress and anxiety is meditation.  Meditation can help to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Meditation can be done anywhere including at home or in a quiet space. A simple way to meditate is to close the eyes, breathe in deeply and slowly, keeping shoulders relaxed. Focus on breathing or an image and start repeating either a word or phrase that is calming, over and over. Reflexology, which uses foot pressure points, may also be beneficial. It is important when deciding on a therapist to check that they are qualified and have experience with working with pregnant women.
 sleep Sleep like a baby – pregnancy can play havoc with sleep patterns, from needing to run to the toilet more frequently during the early stages to being hot, bothered and uncomfortable during the latter stages of pregnancy. Here are some basic go-to-sleep ideas that may be useful. If heartburn or breathlessness are a problem, try an extra pillow to sleep propped up. In the third trimester, wearing sleeping supports such as a maternity bra and a maternity belt can give extra support. Get some extra pillows. Pregnant women should lie on their left side with their knees bent and a pillow between the knees. Other pillows can be used for support behind the back or under the bump.  There are pillows made specifically for pregnant women that support all the right places at the same time without buying several pillows to do the job. The same pregnancy pillow can then be used as a nursing aid once baby arrives! An ‘egg crate’ mattress can also be more comfortable in pregnancy. These aren’t made specifically for pregnancy, but they may provide relief when lying on the side or hips. These foam pads go on top of the mattress and under the sheet and regular mattress pad for added comfort and air circulation.  Some women may find that sleeping in a reclining chair, on the sofa or in the spare bed is more comfortable. Experiment to find the most comfortable place.

LU: 1/2/17/JAA