Most pregnancies go well and without any major problems. But, it is wise to reduce any risks as much as possible. So, a reminder of things to consider before becoming pregnant, and as soon as you realise that you are pregnant …
Things you should do:
- Take folic acid tablets before you get pregnant until 12 weeks of pregnancy.
- Take vitamin D supplements when you become pregnant.
- Have a blood test to check if you are immune against rubella, and to screen for hepatitis B, syphilis, and HIV. Ask your practice nurse to do this.
- Eat a healthy diet. Include foods rich in iron, calcium and folic acid. Also, some oily fish.
- Have strict food hygiene. In particular, wash your hands after handling raw meat, or handling cats and kittens, and before you prepare food.
- Wear gloves when you are gardening.
Things you should avoid:
- Too much vitamin A – don’t eat liver or liver products, or take vitamin A supplements.
- Listeriosis – don’t eat undercooked meat or eggs, soft cheese, paté, shellfish, raw fish, or unpasteurised milk.
- Fish which may contain a lot of mercury – shark, marlin, swordfish, or excess tuna.
- Sheep, lambs, and raw meat which may carry certain infections.
Things you should stop or cut down:
- Caffeine in tea, coffee, cola, etc, – have no more than 200mg per day. For example, this is in about two mugs of instant coffee, or one mug of brewed coffee and a 50g bar of plain chocolate, or two and a half mugs of tea.
- Alcohol – you are strongly advised not to drink at all.
- Smoking – you are strongly advised to stop completely.
- Street drugs – you are strongly advised to stop completely.
Other things to consider:
- Immunisation against hepatitis B if you are at increased risk of getting this infection.
- Immunisation against chickenpox if you are a healthcare worker and have not previously had chickenpox and so are not immune.
- Your medication – including herbal and ‘over the counter’ medicines. Are they safe? Consult a physician
- Your work environment – is it safe?Consult a physician
- Medical conditions in yourself, or conditions which run in your family.
- Screening tests for sickle cell and thalassaemia.