Finding out You Are Pregnant - What Next?
- Sign Up For NHS Antenatal (Pregnancy) Care
- Take Supplements
- Eat Well & Safely
- Drink Well & Safely
- Be Smokefree
- Be Active
Once you have missed a period and had a positive pregnancy test you should get in touch with health services as soon as possible.
Call your GP surgery and tell them you are pregnant.
If you do not have a GP you can find a local one *here*.
- They will make you a booking appointment to meet your Midwife before you are ten weeks pregnant.
- If you have found out you are pregnant later than this, or are not sure how many weeks pregnant you are - they will make you an appointment as soon as they can.
- If you have a long term condition or pre-existing medical condition that affects your physical and / or mental health ask to see your GP before your booking appointment to discuss how this can be best managed during your pregnancy.
Find out what to expect at your midwifery and hospital appointments *here*.
Eating a varied healthy diet with plenty of fruit and veg is always important and especially so in pregnancy.
Health experts recommend that some additional supplements are taken to help the growing baby develop healthily. Keep taking the advised supplements even if you are being sick.
You should only take vitamins specially made for women who are trying to get pregnant, or who are pregnant. This is because too much of some vitamins and minerals can harm the growing baby.
Folic acid helps the brain, spine and spinal cord develop healthily. Women who are hoping to get pregnant should be taking a supplement of Folic Acid (400mcgs) a day. This should be taken; whilst they are trying to get pregnant and until they are twelve weeks pregnant. If you were not able to do this then begin taking the supplement as soon as you find out you are pregnant.
You should also take a supplement for;
- Vitamin C important for bone strength and growth.
- Vitamin D to make sure bones are strong and reduce the risk of Rickets.
There are many pregnancy supplements available and you can ask your pharmacist for advice. ‘Maternal Healthy Start Vitamins’ include all the recommended supplements. They are available to buy at chemists.
- If you are pregnant and on eligible benefits (and/or under 18 years of age) you may be able to get them free (and vouchers for milk, fruit and veg) via the Healthy Start Scheme – find out more *here* or ask your midwife.
When you are pregnant you do not need to eat lots of special foods your baby will be well looked after by your body.
However it makes sense that you will feel better, and have more energy to keep active if you eat healthily whilst your body is growing a little person.
Some foods should be avoided during pregnancy because they can affect the growth and development of your baby.
Find an NHS list of these foods and the reason you should not eat them during pregnancy *here*.
Keeping hydrated is important during pregnancy.
- The advice is to drink 6-8 (200ml) glasses of fluid each day.
- It reduces the risk of urine infection which are more common in pregnancy and can cause early births.
- Your baby is surrounded by fluid (amniotic fluid) and you have a greater blood volume in pregnancy.
- You may be being sick and this increases risk of dehydration.
- You sweat more in pregnancy.
Any non-alcoholic drink, hot or cold, is fine. But you should remember;
- To have no more than 200 mgs of caffeine a day – 1 cup of coffee has around 100mgs. 1 cup of tea around 75mgs.
- Avoid ‘energy drinks’ completely.
- Sugary drinks can push your calorie intake above your needs.
- Fizzy and acidic drinks (like fruit juice) can damage teeth.
By the time you feel thirsty you may already be a little dehydrated so don’t ignore thirst.
Keep an eye on the colour of your wee. It should be pale in colour; if it is dark you should increase your fluids.
No one really knows if there is a safe level of alcohol in pregnancy.
Importantly we do know it can cause long term health and development problems for babies and children if they are exposed to too much.
Because of this when planning a pregnancy and during pregnancy it is safest to drink NO alcohol.
If you worry that it might be hard for you to stop drinking alcohol talk to your GP, or midwife, as soon as possible - there are services to help you.
There is a lot of information about how harmful smoking is to us all. We know it is dangerous for unborn babies.
One of the best things you can do for the health of your growing family and yourself is to be ‘smoke free’.
It is important that partners, family and friends understand that it is not just when the pregnant person smokes there is a risk to the unborn baby. All second hand smoke is dangerous.
Some of the serious risks of babies being exposed to smoking in the womb are they;
- May not get enough oxygen in the womb.
- Could be born early, and smaller than they should be.
- Are at a higher risk from miscarriage, still birth and sudden infant death syndrome (cot death).
You can read more about the ways babies are harmed *here*. Stopping smoking is the best way to keep your baby healthy.
Ideally you should quit smoking once you are planning a baby, or as soon you find out a baby is on the way to minimise the risk.
If you haven’t already quit then stopping as soon as you can will still be the best decision for the health of your baby and for you!
If you are pregnant speak up for your baby to keep them safe and Smokefree. Ask others not to smoke around you or in places where you spend time.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
If you, or a loved one, are pregnant you might feel worried that you will struggle to quit, and feel guilty and judged for smoking. Nicotine is very addictive – health professionals know it can be tough to stop; this is why there are free NHS services to support you.
You are four times more likely to stop successfully if you get help from a professional service.
Find out more about becoming Smokefree for your unborn baby and the whole family *here*.
Being an active family during pregnancy is good for you and your baby;
- Exercise is good for our mood and for our physical wellbeing.
- Exercise can help keep to a healthy weight- which reduces complications in pregnancy.
- It will help you recover from pregnancy and birth more quickly too.
- It can help you be fitter and have the energy you will need for labour.
Being fitter will help make the early weeks and months of parenthood less tiring
You may have been active before you found out you were pregnant.
You may have decided to make a positive change to your life now you have a baby on the way.
Always let any exercise instructors know you are pregnant. Discuss any concerns and ask for advice from your maternity team.
If you have always been active you can continue with your usual exercise routine.
You may need to adapt some activities for example contact sports where you may fall over or get hurt.
Sometimes conditions arise during pregnancy that make it more difficult to keep exercising like back pain – you can ask to see a specialist physio for help and advice.
Whenever possible you should still be aiming for about two and a half hours of exercise a week.
If you are new to exercise expecting a baby can be a good motivator to get active. You should start slowly and build up. When you exercise you should be aiming to feel a little breathless but still be able to hold a conversation.
- Swimming is a good exercise as your body weight is supported.
- There are special pregnancy exercise classes available – this is a good way to meet people too.
- Walking briskly is a good option and you will notice that you can go further, more quickly as your fitness improves.
10 minutes at a time is a great start - build up to 30 minutes. Exercise with your partner or friends so that you can encourage each other to keep going.
Who can Help?
If you feel worried and want more advice you can speak to your midwife.
You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.
If you are 11-19 you can text Chathealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of the Healthy Child Programme team.
See, Hear, Respond - Best Beginnings and Barnado's are providing free support to pregnant families and new parents struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.