Pregnancy do's and don'ts
Pregnancy can be a nine-month rollercoaster ride to parenthood, with times of uncertainty about what you should and shouldn't be doing along the way - especially if it's your first time. Hilary Pereira throws some light on the main do's and don'ts
10 things to do
1. Keep active
As long as you're fit and comfortable, you can keep exercising at a level you're already used to, dropping the intensity as necessary. John Brewer from the National Sports Centre in Shropshire, advises pregnant women to avoid contact sports, as well as "...sports in which they are likely to become very hot, or where there could be an impact, particularly around the abdominal area". Swimming and walking are best for pregnancy.
2. Drink water
Keeping up the amount of fluids you drink during pregnancy can help to combat as well as preventing constipation and easing the extra strain on your kidneys. Aim to drink around two litres of water a day.
3 Get plenty of sleep
Your metabolic rate increases by one-fifth in pregnancy, so it's no wonder you feel so tired! Nap during the day if you can, and get plenty of early nights.
4. Eat well
Make sure you eat a balanced diet; reduce the amount of fats and sugars you eat, and step up your protein and carbohydrate intake, which will provide slow-release energy. Eating small, frequent meals can help to combat pregnancy sickness. For more advice contact the Wellbeing Eating for Pregnancy Helpline on 0845 130 3646, and see Danger foods
Take some time out to focus on you and your baby and forget the everyday stresses. Prenatal yoga is an excellent way to unwind and also helps prepare you physically and mentally for the challenge of labour.
6. Check out your rights
Contact your local Department of Social Security (DSS) office as early as possible to find out what benefits you are entitled to and collect any forms you may need to complete. You can also find out about your entitlement to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) from the DSS.
7. Go on a last-minute break
If you're fit and well, now's a good time to take a holiday as a couple. Most airlines won't let you fly beyond 32 weeks of pregnancy and want a medical certificate if you are more than 28 weeks, so check before you book.
8. Explore complementary therapies
Reflexology can help to ease circulation problems, backache and general aches and pains; acupuncture may ease pregnancy nausea and sickness, headaches and indigestion, and aromatherapy is great for relaxation. Contact the British Complementary Medicine Association on 0845 345 5977 or visit their website
9. Talk about your feelings
Your emotions will probably be up and down throughout pregnancy, thanks to surging hormones and your changing circumstances. Talking to your partner, friends, family and health professionals about your feelings can help.
10. Take folic acid
Every pregnant woman should take folic acid supplements for at least the first 12 weeks (start now if you haven't already or if you're planning a pregnancy), to help prevent birth defects such as spina bifida.