Mums-to-be often ask questions about what they can or cannot do during their pregnancies. They carefully make plans for their babies, to ensure that their lifestyles are healthy and leading to the best outcome for their pregnancies.
Flying is not harmful to mums or their babies in most pregnancies, however most airlines do not allow pregnant women to fly after 37 weeks. This is because a woman at that stage of pregnancy may go into labour during the flight. Some airlines even impose restrictions on earlier stages in pregnancies.
Air travel during pregnancy, especially on long haul flights, does increase the chance of a blood clot – deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – in the legs or pelvis. You should take measures to reduce the risk of a DVT by drinking plenty of water and choosing an aisle seat if possible, as well as standing up and do light exercises during the flight by moving your legs. Please also check that you have adequate travel insurance during your travel.
2. How much alcohol can I drink during pregnancy?
In short: no safe amount, no safe time, no safe type. No amount of alcohol is proven to be safe in pregnancy. Scientific research has clearly shown that alcohol causes birth defects, miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and low birth weight.
If you are not ready to announce that you are pregnant, you can always use other excuses e.g. “I am having an alcohol-free- period to reset my body”. For women trying for a baby, alcohol is also known to affect fertility and may reduce the chance of natural conception.
3. How many baby movements do I need to feel?
Most women first become aware of their babies’ movements at about 18-20 weeks or even slightly later. The number of movements tends to increase until 32 weeks of pregnancy. After that time the number stays mostly the same, but the type of movement may change as the pregnancy advances. Babies do go into sleep periods, usually lasting 20 to 40 minutes, and are rarely longer than 90 minutes. During these short sleep periods, it is normal for them to stop moving temporarily.
Generally, it is difficult and unnecessary to calculate the specific number of movements, as when you are active or busy you may not be aware of the movements. However, over time you should be familiar with and monitor the pattern of your baby’s movement. It is important to seek advice immediately from your friendly midwife or obstetrician if you feel that there is a reduction or a change in your baby’s movement. If you are unsure about your baby’s movement, try lying down on your left and focus on the movements. Usually there should be at least 10 movements over a 2-hour period.
4. How much exercise should I do in pregnancy?
Exercise is recommended for most pregnancies, apart from some conditions in pregnancies, for example when there is a risk of preterm-labour or a low-lying placenta. Certain activities are to be avoided e.g. lying on the back in late pregnancies, contact sports, or other higher risk activities like mountain climbing, sky or scuba diving. Intensive or competitive fast-paced training is also not
Activities that are beneficial include brisk walking, modified Yoga or Pilates. Stationary cycling is better; in late pregnancy you may be more prone to fall due to the size and weight of the belly, and also a reduced range of movement. It is recommended that pregnant women get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity in total every week. Drink plenty of water and avoid overheating during these sessions.
5. What is the best diet during pregnancy?
Base your meals on starchy foods that are satisfying without too many calories e.g. potatoes, bread, rice and pasta. Wholegrain is a healthier option.
The healthy 5-a- day: at least 5 portions of different fruit and vegetables in a day. A portion of pure fruit juice only counts as one portion, no matter how much; potatoes do not count.
Not too much fried food, and also drinks and foods that are high in added sugar e.g. sweets, cakes and biscuits.
Fibre-rich foods are good: oats, beans, lentils, grains, seeds, wholegrain and wholemeal breads and pastas.
Eat some protein e.g. lean meat every day.
Eat two portions of fish per week. However, do not have more than 2 portions of oily fish e.g. mackerel, salmon or tuna in a week due to the presence of mercury. Avoid eating shark, swordfish or marlin all together as they contain even higher amount of this metal.
Low-fat dairy is a good source of calcium.
Do not aim to ‘eat for 2’, but always have breakfast.
No more than 200mg of caffeine per day, equivalent to 2 mugs of instant coffee.
Dieting in pregnancy is not recommended.
Food to avoid in pregnancy: Liver as it contains high level of vitamin A; unpasteurised milk, soft cheese, pate, and undercooked food to reduce the risk of listeriosis; partially cooked eggs e.g. mayonnaise or mousses, and raw or undercooked meat to reduce the risk of salmonella.
Always wash your hands while handling food, wash all fruit and vegetables, and also wear protective gloves while handling soil and cat faeces to reduce the risk of toxoplasmosis.