There are a number of important things that you can work towards to improve health outcomes for both you and your baby.
Health improvements are not always easy to make, especially if there are more pressing issues in your family or home life. An approaching birth can be a great motivator for change but not always. If you find it hard to make changes don't be afraid to ask for help.
The following is a short overview of things you can do straightaway.
- take folate in the weeks before and up to three months after you get pregnant
- eat a variety of good food
- maintain a reasonable level of activity
- reduce stress in your work and family life if you can
- if it's possble, find time for yourself
- rest and try to get enough sleep
- have regular checkups throughout your pregancy
- contact your health care provider as soon as you feel something is wrong.
- alcohol – the recommendation is that you avoid alcohol in pregnancy or when you are breastfeeding. What you drink, your baby drinks too.
- smoking – it is known that smoking increases the risk of miscarriage and harms the growth and development of your baby. For free information, advice and support to stop smoking contact Quitline on137 848 (available 24 hours).
- multivitamins containing retinol – this is a type of vitamin A that can be harmful in large amounts. Liver also contains retinol, so it should be limited to small amounts.
- caffeine – tea, coffee and cola drinks all contain caffeine. You are advised to limit your intake to three cups of coffee or five cups of tea per day. Guarana is a caffeine substance used in some energy drinks such as Red Bull, V and Mother. These drinks are not recommended in pregnancy.
Get support and advice
As soon as you are able, visit your GP. You GP can:
- talk to your about tests that you need, your care options and where you might have your baby
- advise you about other support organisations in the community
- put you in touch with services that can assist if you have special needs or require particular care. Some maternity services offer special care for women with drug and alcohol issues, others provide specialised care for pregnant women with disabilities or very young women who are pregnant.
Some maternity settings also provide special care for women with existing mental health issues. Treatment for mental health issues may need to be managed differently when you are pregnant.
Medicines, drugs, complementary and alternative medicines
Some medications are not safe in pregnancy, including medications you have been prescribed, those you have bought over the counter or other drugs you are taking. Do not take any complementary medicines, including multivitamins without checking if they are safe during your pregnancy or while breastfeeding. And do not stop taking drugs – illegal or prescribed – that you have been taking for some time. If you suddenly stop taking drugs it can lead to miscarriage. Get medical advice as soon as you can.
Living with violence
During pregnancy, family violence will increase for some women. Family violence will have an impact on your health and the health of your unborn baby and other children. Pregnancy may offer an opportunity to speak one-on-one to a health professional about violence in your living situation. See our information on family violence.
The Women’s does not accept any liability to any person for the information or advice (or use of such information or advice) which is provided on the Website or incorporated into it by reference. The Women’s provide this information on the understanding that all persons accessing it take responsibility for assessing its relevance and accuracy. Women are encouraged to discuss their health needs with a health practitioner. If you have concerns about your health, you should seek advice from your health care provider or if you require urgent care you should go to the nearest Emergency Dept.