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Healthy living for pregnancy

Patient information A-Z

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Cambridge IVF

Many congratulations on your pregnancy!

Now that you are pregnant you will probably have a lot of questions about how to keep yourself as healthy as possible, for yourself and your baby. Once you are in touch with your local Community Midwife they will be able to give you some advice about this. The other place you can find reliable and current information is the NHS website (opens in a new tab).

We have provided a summary of the information on that site below, but we would recommend accessing the site for more information.

A healthy balanced diet

A healthy diet is always important, it is something we commonly hear said, but this is especially true when you’re pregnancy, but what does that mean? The NHS 'have a healthy diet in pregnancy' webpage (opens in a new tab) goes into great detail about what having a balanced diet actually means.

You should be having at least 5 portions of fruit or vegetables each day, ensuring they are washed carefully.

Starchy food should make up just over a third of the food you eat, also think about choosing wholegrain or higher fibre options.

Protein rich foods should be eaten every day, good sources of protein include: beans, eggs, fish and nuts.

Dairy provides you with calcium, which is important in pregnancy. It is recommended to choose low- fat varieties, for example semi-skimmed milk, reduced fat hard cheese or yoghurt.

Foods high in sugar or fat should be avoided or at least eaten in smaller amounts.

Some examples of healthy snacks are: salad vegetable, low fat yoghurt, fruit (fresh or dried), and hummus with wholemeal pitta bread.

Preparing food safely

You should pay close attention to food safety in pregnancy, there are some food bugs that can harm your unborn baby. For this reason it is recommended to follow this advice:

  • Wash fruit, vegetables and salads to remove all traces of soil, which may contain toxoplasma (a parasite that can cause toxoplasmosis (opens in a new tab)) which can harm your unborn baby.
  • Wash all surfaces, utensils and your hands, after preparing raw foods (poultry, meat, eggs, fish, shellfish and raw vegetables) to help you avoid food poisoning.
  • Make sure that raw foods are stored separately from ready-to-eat foods, otherwise there's a risk of contamination.
  • Use a separate knife and chopping board for raw meats.
  • Heat ready meals until they're steaming hot all the way through – this is especially important for meals containing poultry.

Foods to avoid in pregnancy

Most foods are safe in pregnancy, but there are some foods best to avoid, often due to the potential harm that they could cause to your unborn baby. There is more in-depth information on the NHS 'foods to avoid' webpage (opens in a new tab).

A summary of the foods to avoid include:

  • Mould-ripened soft cheeses with a white coating on the outside, such as brie, camembert and chèvre (unless cooked until steaming hot)
  • Soft blue cheeses such as danish blue, gorgonzola and roquefort (unless cooked until steaming hot)
  • Any unpasteurised cow’s milk, goat’s milk or sheep's milk
  • Any foods made from unpasteurised milk, such as soft goat’s cheese
  • Raw or undercooked meat
  • Liver and liver products
  • All types of pâté, including vegetarian pâté
  • Game meats such as goose, partridge or pheasant
  • Raw or partially cooked eggs that are not British Lion
  • Duck, goose or quail eggs, unless cooked thoroughly until the whites and yolks are solid
  • Swordfish, Marlan and Shark
  • Raw shellfish

There is also information about the consumption of caffeine, alcohol, herbal teas, liquorice and peanuts.

Vitamins and supplements in pregnancy

Eating a healthy balanced diet will enable to you to get most of the vitamins and minerals that you need throughout your pregnancy. We do however, recommend that you take a folic acid supplement – 400mcg each day, until you are 12 weeks pregnant and vitamin D – 10mcg each day. The NHS 'vitamins, supplements and nutrition' webpage (opens in a new tab) also gives advice about which foods are a good source of vitamin D, vitamin C, iron and calcium.

Exercise in pregnancy

In general we would recommend continuing with your normal daily physical activities and exercise for as long as you feel comfortable. If you were not active before pregnancy, do not suddenly take up strenuous exercise, build up your exercise gradually and remember exercise doesn’t need to be strenuous to be beneficial. Some exercise tips to consider for pregnancy are:

  • Always warm up before exercising and cool down afterwards.
  • Try to keep active on a daily basis – 30 minutes of walking each day can be enough, but if you cannot manage that, any amount is better than nothing.
  • Avoid any strenuous exercise in hot weather.
  • If you go to exercise classes, make sure your teacher is properly qualified and knows that you're pregnant, as well as how many weeks pregnant you are.
  • You might like to try swimming because the water will support your increased weight. Some local swimming pools provide aqua-natal classes with qualified instructors.
  • Exercises that have a risk of falling, such as horse riding, downhill skiing, ice hockey, gymnastics and cycling, should only be done with caution.

Most of all, enjoy your pregnancy!

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Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

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