Try these simple steps to help keep you and your growing baby safe, and help make life easier in the months ahead.
1. Don’t get your hands dirty
Why? While it’s safe to use cleaning products such as bleach, make sure you use household gloves to avoid getting them on your skin – the chemicals can be absorbed into your skin, which could harm your baby. It’s also a good idea to avoid cleaning things like the oven, as it’s hard to get enough ventilation in a small space. And you’ll be pleased to hear that you can’t empty the cat litter tray either – cat poo can contain a parasite that carries toxoplasmosis, an infection that can cause miscarriage, stillbirth and birth defects.
How? If cleaning with chemicals, don your Marigolds and make sure the room is well ventilated. Wear gloves for gardening too, and wash fruit, salads and veg to get rid of soil, which might also carry the toxoplasma parasite, and get someone else to deal with the litter tray!
2. Buy a new bra
Why? As you progress through your pregnancy, your breasts will change and grow so you’ll need to get refitted for your bra every so often. Remember when you’re choosing a new bra that some midwives advise against wearing underwired ones because the wire may obstruct the increased blood flow or squash the developing milk duct system.
How? Choose a maternity or non-wired bra with wider shoulder straps, good support and an adjustable back. Depending on how much your breasts change, you may need to be fitted four to six times during pregnancy.
3. Watch what you eat
Why? If food is not cooked through completely, it may contain bacteria called listeria, which can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or serious illness in a newborn baby.
How? To avoid listeria bacteria make sure food is cooked at high temperatures. Here are some other foods to avoid:
Steer clear of cheeses that are soft, blue, unpasteurised or have a soft rind, plus all types of pâté, including vegetable*.
Avoid swordfish, shark and marlin, and eat no more than two tuna steaks a week (about 140g cooked or 170g raw) or four medium-size cans of tuna a week (drained weight of about 140g per can) – at high levels, the mercury in these fish can harm your baby’s developing nervous system.
If you or your partner has a history of allergies, avoid eating peanuts and peanut products to minimise your baby’s chances of developing a nut allergy.
Visit the NHS website for more information on what to eat and avoid in pregnancy. Also, ignore the old advice about eating for two – appetite is your best guide, and eating little and often will help keep your blood sugar levels stable. Always aim for a good balance of great-tasting, fresh ingredients.
4. Look after your teeth
Why? You may find your gums bleed more easily due to hormonal changes – if so, visit your dentist regularly for a thorough cleaning.
How? If you’re registered as an NHS patient and have a current Maternity Exemption Certificate (ask your GP or midwife for the FW8 application form), you’re entitled to free routine dental treatment until your baby’s first birthday.
5. Lose the high heels
Why? Like your waistline, your feet will get wider too! Also keeping your balance in your most gorgeous high heels gets harder.
How? Do your most cherished shoes a favour by leaving them in the back of the wardrobe for a few months and take your pick of the fashionable flatties out there.
6. Fasten your seatbelt properly
Why? Road accidents are one of the most common causes of injury among pregnant women†.
How? Always fasten your seatbelt, making sure it sits above and below your bump not across it.
Plus 4 pregnancy must-dos
– Take a 400mg folic acid supplement daily in the first trimester. Raising your body’s levels of folic acid can help protect your baby against spina bifida and other neural tube defects**.
– Give up smoking. It’s been linked to premature birth, low birth weight, cot death, miscarriage and breathing problems in your baby. The NHS has more advice to help you quit here.
– Avoid booze. Heavy drinking is linked to low birth weight and serious birth defects, so stop drinking if you’re trying to get pregnant or as soon as you find out you’re expecting.
– Cut down on caffeine. Too much has been linked to low birth weight and miscarriage, so drink no more than three mugs of coffee or six cups of tea a day.
*UK government guidelines. Please note that pregnancy dietary advice varies between European countries.
**Source: The government’s COMA report, 2000.
†Source: The Department of Health’s Pregnancy Book, 2009.