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Women’s health series: four tips for a healthy pregnancy

As part of our Women's Health Series, we've put together our top four health tips for pregnancy.

Read on below to find out how to look after you and your little one while your body goes through some incredible changes.

Collage of a pregnant person holding their baby bump and a woman with their newborn baby

Women are more likely to experience nutrient deficiencies, especially when pregnant and breastfeeding, so it’s important to factor in your hormonal cycle when deciding on the best diet for you.

The right food types

To help your baby grow and develop, getting a healthy, balanced diet is key. It’s recommended by the NHS that when pregnant, you should eat fruit and vegetables for vitamins and minerals, starchy foods for a source of energy and dairy for calcium and nutrients that you and your baby need.

You should also try to eat two portions of fish each week, one of which is oily such as salmon, sardines or mackerel.

Foods to avoid

  • Certain types of fish such as shark, swordfish and marlin

  • More than two portions of oily fish a week

  • Raw or partially cooked eggs

  • Certain types of cheese such as unpasteurised cheeses

  • Raw or undercooked meat, liver and liver products, all types of pâté and meats such as goose, partridge or pheasant

See a full list of foods to avoid eating while pregnant

If you’re pregnant and would like a massage, you might be wondering what options are available to you. It’ll depend on how far along you are, but you can find specific pregnancy massages that are great for reducing swelling and relieving aches and pains.

You should note

  • Pregnancy massages are only recommended in your second or third trimester

  • You won’t be able to have massages like deep tissue. Therapists will use light and relaxing techniques instead.

  • Avoid if you have a history of miscarriage or high-risk pregnancy

It’s no surprise that growing a tiny person inside you is tiring, both mentally and physically. The extra progesterone in your body, as well as your lowering blood pressure and blood sugar levels at the start of the pregnancy, will make sleep irresistible to you. But you might be wondering how much sleep is a healthy amount during this time.

How much sleep to get when you’re pregnant

Good quality sleep during pregnancy will help your baby develop. That’s why you should rest as much as you need if you’re feeling tired during pregnancy, and getting the usual seven to nine hours of sleep is fine.

However, the changes that are happening to your body can sometimes make this difficult. From nausea to leg cramps and back pain, don’t worry too much if your sleeping pattern isn’t what it used to be.

But if you’re really struggling with insomnia during your pregnancy, speak to your doctor or midwife.

Exercising when pregnant is completely safe and it can actually make you less likely to experience issues during your pregnancy or through labour.

Should you exercise when pregnant?

Keep these tips in mind when exercising while pregnant:

  • The main rule to follow is to stop once you feel breathless. If you feel like you can’t speak and are losing your breath, you’re exercising too hard.

  • Drink plenty of water

  • Always warm up and cool down

  • Avoid exercises that can cause injury like horse riding, cycling, gymnastics, skiing

  • Aim for 30 minutes of daily activity, whether this is a walk, yoga or gym class

For further exercise tips, check out the NHS guide.