Folate Folate is a B vitamin that is found in food. Folate helps to produce and maintain new cells - especially important during early pregnancy when the baby is developing. Folate is found in green, leafy vegetables, citrus fruit, beans and peas. As well as dietary sources of folate, it is recommended that women take an additional supplement of folate in the form of folic acid. 500 mcg daily is recommended for women from 3 months prior to pregnancy, until three months into the pregnancy.
Alcohol and smoking
Both are best avoided in pregnancy, Alcohol crosses the placenta and directly affects the baby. Alcohol can cause miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth, a small baby and fetal alcohol syndrome. Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen that is available to your baby, and can cause low birth weight. As well as this, there are many chemicals present in cigarette smoke that can be harmful to a growing and developing baby. Smoking can increase the chance of a miscarriage and preterm birth.
Rest and sleep are really important in pregnancy. Early pregnancy, especially, is often a time of tiredness and fatigue, and in general, the first trimester is easier when you are well-rested. Some women will need an afternoon nap or sleep-ins on the weekend to get through the first trimester. Likewise, the third trimester is also a time when some extra ZZZZZs are need.
Exercise is great during pregnancy! Any exercise that you have been doing consistently prior to pregnancy is safe during pregnancy, but it is a good idea to run this past your care provider. Contact sports, high impact exercise and vigorous sports may need to be avoided. The best exercises are walking and swimming, and some women also like to do pregnancy yoga and pregnancy pilates. These are both very gentle.
Exercise has numerous benefits to you and to your baby:
- Maintenance of a healthy weight
- Reduction in the risk of gestational diabetes and high blood pressure
- Promotes more restful sleep
- Stress management
- Improved sleep
- More energy to get through your day
- A shorter labour, perhaps with fewer interventions
A healthy diet is the foundation of a healthy pregnancy. A healthy diet can help to prevent gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. Every mouthful of food helps to grow a healthy baby. You want to give your body the best nutrients, frequently throughout the day (ie, several small meals throughout the day), to allow your baby to develop healthily.
Melissa Maimann is an endorsed eligible midwife in private practice in Sydney. One of the first eligible midwives in Australia, Melissa now offers a range of care options for women including private midwifery care, antenatal shared care and birth support. Visit Melissa's website to learn more about her services.