Basically, the body is very well capable of coping with a pregnancy. Therefore you still do all activities you were used to doing, such as work, work out, have sex, drive a car, ride your bike etc. Smoking and alcohol, however, do need to be treaded cautiously. Research has shown that both alcohol and smoking negatively effects the growth of the foetus. An occasional glass of wine won’t hurt, but a half a bottle each day will. And smoke-free is also best, but if you really cannot quit, make sure to keep it to an absolute minimum.
Furthermore, it is advised to follow the regimens below as well is you can:
- Avoid contact with the following substances: turpentine based paint, pesticides, chemicals (such as fluids for photo development) and laser-games. So far, hair paint has no known harmful effects. To be on the safe side you should avoid the kinds that contain leaded solvents.
- The solarium can create or worsen a pregnancy mask (a brown discolouration of the facial skin). This can also happen as a result of lengthy sunbathing.
- Wear gloves when cleaning the litter box and while working in the garden. In the faeces of (mostly young) cats a parasite known to cause toxoplasmosis is found. If you have already had a cat for quite a while it is most likely that protecting anti-bodies against toxoplasmosis have formed in your blood.
Do you already have a healthy and varied diet? Then nothing extra is required. Do make sure you don’t start eating for two, since that really is not necessary. Also do not start a diet during pregnancy or breastfeeding. The toxic substances stored in fatty-tissue are being released when you lose a lot of weight.
Do eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, a source of vitamins, minerals and fibres. Energy is supplied by potatoes, (whole-wheat) bread, rice and pasta (like macaroni). Milk, cheese, eggs, meat, chicken and fish are important for both the growing child’s as the mother’s calcium- and protein needs. Butter and (low-fat) margarine proved for the vitamin A and D needs. Vitamin supplements offer no extra health value; if you eat sensible they are not necessary. Some substances containing vitamin A can even be harmful with excessive intake. The vitamin folic acid does however have an added health value.
The use of folic acid up and till the 10th week of pregnancy is advised since it diminishes the chance of the baby being born with spina bifida.
Keep the following tips in mind:
- Raw (or half raw) meat and unwashed vegetables can contain a parasite causing toxoplasmosis. This is an infectious disease. Contagion during pregnancy can lead to birth defects. Have you already had toxoplasmosis you can be sure not to contract it again. So, do not eat half raw roast beef, fricandeau or chopped steak, filet américain or beef sausage. Other meat products such as raw ham, smoked beef or salami are of no risk since they have had a special treatment. Wash fruits and vegetables well.
- Soft cheeses made from raw milk, like brie, camembert and Roquefort, can contain the listeria-bacteria. Healthy adults rarely fall ill because of it, but an unborn child is sensitive to it. If the cheese is made of raw, un-pasteurised milk, the label often says “lait cru”. Other raw milk should be boiled prior to usage.
- Listeria can also grow in other raw products such as raw vegetables, chicken, fish and meat that have been kept in the fridge for too long. So, preferable you buy these products freshly, otherwise only store them a short while. Listeria is not resistant to heat, thus boiling or baking it will disarm it. Moreover, as a result, prepared meals can be kept in the fridge.
- Go easy on the sugar and don’t eat excessive amounts of sweets.
- Liver contains a lot of vitamin A. Too much vitamin A can be harmful to the unborn child. Therefore it is preferred not to eat any liver during pregnancy, and have at most once a day a liver product such as liver sausage, liver pate, hausmacher or Berliner.
Fasting during pregnancy or when breastfeeding requires an extra effort from the body. It is possible your body struggles with that. So be wary of symptoms and always choose for the safety of you and your child whenever possible. Fasting is a choice, not a requirement.
Fasting can create or worsen the following:
Headache, caused by not drinking or eating enough; mostly during the first few days of fasting
Nausea, same cause
Feeling giddy or even fainting. Caused by a lowering blood pressure (as a result of too little water) and fluctuation of the sugar levels (as a result of not eating during the day and instead eating at night).
Severe fatigue, because of the long days in combination with the early start of those days.
Gaining more weight when eating more, fattier and sweeter food than usual
Use as few medicines or other substances not prescribed by a doctor or nurse as possible. Also be aware that certain crèmes can contain a harmful dose of vitamin A.
An exception to this rule is the vitamin folic acid. Using folic acid reduces the chance of delivering a baby with spina bifida. You can take this up and till the 10th week of pregnancy. 1 tablet of 0.5 mg a day is sufficient. You can get these tablets over the counter at a drugstore or pharmacist. A possible side-effect of folic acid is pelvic pains.
If you have any pains you can take aspirin (paracetemol) without any risk. See instruction leaflet for the proper dose. If the dentist (or any other doctor) deems it necessary or advises you to use anaesthetics, this will not be a problem during pregnancy. Do tell the doctor you are pregnant.
Vitamin B12 and folic acid play an important role in the prevention of spina bifida. With a B12 deficiency not enough folic acid is produced, which undermines the growth of the neural tube of the foetus. For that reason, nowadays, women who have or had a vitamin B12 deficiency are prescribed extra folic acid during pregnancy. This folic acid can however cause pelvic pains. If you have ever had a B12 deficiency it is advised to get tested.