It can be overwhelming for a woman to make sure that her pregnancy goes smoothly so that her baby can be born safe and healthy. This article will highlight some of the primary issues that face a woman during her pregnancy and how to address them.
First it is important that a pregnant woman maintains a healthy lifestyle and diet. This does not mean going on a special diet but eating a variety of foods every day so that a woman and her baby can get the right balance of nutrients.
Eating five portions of fruits and vegetables a day is at the top of the list. These provide vitamins, minerals and fibre which can help prevent constipation. Fibre can also be found in carbohydrates, which can satisfy hunger without having too many calories. These would include potatoes, pasta, rice and breakfast cereals to name a few. Meat, fish and poultry should be part of the diet as a source of protein as well as milk, cheese and yoghurt for calcium. Foods that are high in sugar and fat should be avoided and snacks between meals should include such items as ready-to-eat figs or apricots, hummus with bread and unsweetened fruit juices.
There are Healthy Start vouchers for women who are at least 10 weeks pregnant and get income support from various sources or may have a child tax credit and an annual family income of £16.190 or less. Milk and plain frozen or fresh vegetables can be purchased with these vouchers.
During pregnancy there will be periodic visits to the hospital and midwife for ultrasound scans and tests. There are usually two ultrasound scans done, the first of which occurs when a woman is pregnant for 12 weeks. The purpose of this scan is to estimate when the baby’s date of delivery. The second scan is done between 18 and 21 weeks and checks for any types of abnormalities in the baby.
There are also regular checks and visits to the hospital/midwife with more visits for those women who are having their first child. Pregnant women are also offered a range of tests that are designed to make the pregnancy safer, assess the well-being and development of the baby and the mother and to screen for certain conditions.
A woman’s weight and height are checked so as to ensure she does not get overweight. Much of the extra weight is due to the growth of the baby but a woman also gains extra fat for making breast milk after the birth. There are also antenatal urine tests to check for signs of infection and blood pressure tests for signs of pregnancy-induced hypertension. There may also be blood tests offered if a woman is at risk for a particular condition. In addition, dental treatment from the NHS is free during pregnancy and for 12 months after having giving birth. For information on healthy start vouchers mentioned above go to gov.uk/healthy-start for more information.
Finally, after a woman has given birth and returned from hospital, her postnatal care will be discussed with a midwife who is available in the community to help with taking care of oneself and with the baby if necessary.