Five things to do in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy
These are five simple steps every newly pregnant woman can follow to increase the likelihood of a safe and healthy pregnancy. Click here to view our Top 5 poster
1. Find a Lead Maternity Carer (LMC)
2. Take Folic Acid and Iodine
3. Make a decision about screening tests
4. Give your baby the best possible start: avoid smoking, alcohol and recreational drugs.
5. Eat well and stay active (see the advice below)
Smoking during pregnancy affects the baby’s growth, increases the risk of cot death, pneumonia, asthma and glue ear, and increases the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth.
- If you’re pregnant you can still make a big difference to your baby by quitting. Hutt Hospital runs a smoking cessation clinic every Wednesday. To find out more call 0800 926 257. For information on how to quit smoking call 0800 778 778.
- Information on how to quit smoking is available from Quitline on their website: www.quit.org.nz
It is best to avoid drinking alcohol while you are pregnant. Drinking during pregnancy can cause permanent brain damage (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome). It increases the likelihood of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth, intellectual disabilities, physical defects, and developmental and behaviour problems.
Make sure you eat well and keep up a moderate amount of exercise. Nutrition is even more important while you are pregnant, so make sure you eat a variety of healthy foods every day.
- Pregnancy is not about ‘eating for two.’ In the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, you can eat the same amount as you usually would. It is important you eat nutritious food.
- After the 12th week, and if you are a healthy weight, the extra food you need each day is about the same as a wholegrain peanut butter sandwich and a banana. If you are overweight or obese, the extra food you need is about the same as one slice of wholegrain bread or two apples.
- Drink plenty of water rather than sweetened drinks, fizzy drinks or fruit juices.
- Drink low-fat trim (green top) or calcium-extra (yellow top) or light blue top milk instead of full-fat (blue or silver top) milk.
- Eat wholegrain bread instead of white bread.
- Eat a healthy breakfast every day, such as wheat biscuits or porridge with low-fat milk, or two slices of wholegrain toast.
- Have at least four servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit every day. Buy vegetables and fruit that are in season, or buy frozen vegetables to help reduce cost, waste and preparation time.
- Prepare and eat meals at home. Have takeaways no more than once a week.
- Choose healthy snacks such as unsweetened low-fat yoghurt, fruit, cheese and crackers, a small bowl of cereal, home-made popcorn or a small wholegrain sandwich.
- Aim to do at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity five or more days a week, for example, brisk walking or swimming (or as advised by your midwife, doctor or physiotherapist).
Weight Gain and Pregnancy
It is normal to gain some weight in pregnancy due to the growth of your baby, the placenta and the amniotic fluid around your baby.
However gaining too much weight can increase your chances of:
- Needing a caesarean section
- Having high blood pressure with complications
- Diabetes in pregnancy
It may also mean more weight to lose after your baby is born and the problems increased weight has on your on-going health.
Not gaining enough weight can also affect your pregnancy and increase the chances of a premature or small for age baby.
More information on weight in pregnancy can be found here:
Folic acid is recommended for all pregnant women. Lack of folic acid is linked to birth defects such as spina bifida. The risk of having a child with these birth defects is low but can be reduced by taking folic acid until the end of your 12th week of pregnancy. Talk to your LMC about the supplements you should take.
Iodine is needed to produce hormones in the thyroid gland. Mothers produce more of these hormones during pregnancy. Without enough thyroid hormone for growth and maturation the brain is affected. The only source of these hormones is from the mother, as the baby’s own thyroid doesn't begin working until towards the end of pregnancy.
You cannot get enough iodine from food alone. But you can increase your intake by:
- Drinking up to a litre of milk a day
- Using iodised salt
- Taking iodine supplements
Talk to your GP or LMC about how to make sure you get enough iodine.
See the Ministry of Health website for more information on iodine.
What food to avoid
Some food has a higher risk associated with listeria, a bacteria that causes many stomach bugs. This can cause miscarriage and stillbirth or infect your baby. To reduce the risk you need to handle food safely and avoid food including:
- processed meats (like ham and luncheon sausage)
- cold pre-cooked meat
- rice that hasn’t been freshly cooked
- unpasteurised milk, yoghurt or cheese
- soft cheeses like brie or camembert
- raw, smoked or precooked fish (including sushi, mussels and oysters)
- food containing raw egg (such as mayonnaise)
See the Foodsmart website for information on Food Safety in Pregnancy (or phone 0800 693 721).