Pregnancy can exacerbate dental problems. Gingivitis (an inflammation of the gums) is a common problem, which may be the result of increased blood flow to the gums caused by pregnancy hormones. It can lead to bleeding gums and has been associated with complications of pregnancy, such as premature birth. It’s always wise to take good care of your teeth – brush your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush after meals, or at least twice a day, to help prevent cavities and gingivitis. Also floss regularly as this will help to protect your gums. NHS dental care is free during pregnancy so see your dentist regularly and make sure he/she knows you are pregnant.
The combination of diabetes and pregnancy increases risk of complications for both the mother and baby.5 For women with diabetes, the risk of complications can be considerably reduced with optimal control of diabetes from the time of conception – this includes healthy eating and nutrition. Gestational diabetes occurs in around 3-5% of pregnancies and all women are routinely monitored during pregnancy for increasing glucose levels and specialist advice and monitoring are offered to women who show signs of gestational diabetes.
Most often, diarrhoea in pregnancy is a result of changing hormone levels – predominantly increased levels of progesterone. However if accompanied by a fever or vomiting and if it persists for more than 24 hours you may wish to speak to your midwife or GP to eliminate other causes such as salmonella.
Eating during labour
Hospital policies on eating during labour vary. It may be a good idea to try to eat a meal during early labour to help keep up your strength. Let your body tell you whether to eat, but don’t forget to drink regularly to avoid dehydration. If you do feel hungry during labour stick to slow releasing carbohydrates that are lighter on the digestive system and will provide you with energy throughout your contractions. Take snacks with you such as dry biscuits, fruit, dried fruit etc.
Eating for two!
Falling for the myth of needing to eat for two is likely to result in excessive amounts of weight gain, as energy needs during pregnancy only rise slightly. This is because the body undergoes adaptations allowing increased energy needs to be met from only a very small increase in calorie intake. The recommended increase
in energy intake for pregnant women in the UK is just 200Kcals per day during the third trimester.
Energy – lack of
Energy requirements during pregnancy will vary from woman to woman according to pre-pregnancy body weight, work and leisure activity levels. Extra energy is needed for foetal growth
and development and for extra maternal tissues such as the placenta, amniotic fluids and additional body fat. In addition, an increase in energy expenditure is required to maintain
these tissues and carry out physical activities at a higher
The energy costs are not equally distributed throughout pregnancy, with energy needs being far higher during the second and third trimesters because the bulk of new tissues are laid down as protein or fat in these periods. However, the actual increase in energy for the diet needed is quite low as the body
Feeling faint when you stand for too long or get up quickly is caused by low blood pressure (BP). The pregnancy hormone progesterone, which relaxes the walls of your blood vessels, causes low blood pressure, however, your BP tends to return to normal during the last few weeks of pregnancy. Avoid lying on your back as pregnancy progresses; the growing uterus becomes increasingly heavy and if you are on your back it presses on a very large blood vessel and reduces the flow of blood to the brain and makes you feel faint. If this does
happen, turn onto your side and the faint feeling will quickly pass. feeding your baby The decision to breastfeed or bottle feed your baby is a very personal one. Breast milk is the ideal form of nutrition for newborns, but breastfeeding may not be possible or preferable for all women and the decision to breastfeed or bottle feed your baby should be based on your comfort level with breastfeeding as well as your lifestyle. For mothers who are unable to breastfeed or who decide not to, commercially prepared infant formulas are a good alternative and will meet your baby’s nutritional needs.
Fish is a great source of protein and oily types provide omega-3 fatty acids. However whilst pregnant avoid eating shark, marlin and swordfish and limit the amount of tuna you eat to
no more than two tuna steaks a week (weighing about 140g cooked or 170g raw) or four medium size cans of tuna a week (with a drained weight of about 140g per can). This is because of the levels of mercury in these fish. At high levels, mercury can harm a baby’s developing nervous system. This also applies during breastfeeding. Try to have one, but don’t have more than two portions of oily fish a week. Oily fish includes tuna (see above for advice regarding fresh and canned tuna), mackerel, sardines and trout. But remember that eating fish is good for your health and the development of your baby, so you should still aim to eat at least two portions of fish a week, including one portion of oily fish. Avoid raw shellfish because it may contain harmful bacteria and viruses that cause poisoning. However, shellfish that is part of a hot meal that has been thoroughly cooked is fine.
Foods to avoid.
Some foods pose a particular risk during pregnancy, either because of the way they are produced, or because of the high levels of certain nutrients or substances they contain. The following foods are best avoided during pregnancy: All types of pâté, including vegetable pâtés, and mould-ripened soft cheese because of the risk of listeria infection. Although listeria is a very rare disease, it is important to take special precautions during pregnancy because even mild forms of the illness can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or severe illness in the newborn.
Do not eat liver or liver products such as liver pâté or liver sausage, as they contain high levels of vitamin A. Too much vitamin A can harm the baby. Avoid cod liver oil supplements or any supplements containing vitamin A. Avoid peanuts and foods containing peanut products (e.g. peanut butter, groundnut oil, some snacks, etc.) if the baby’s mother or father or any previous children have a history of hay fever, asthma, eczema or other allergies. Babies may be at a higher risk of developing a nut allergy if the baby’s father, brothers or sisters have certain allergic conditions such as hay fever, asthma and/ or eczema. Avoid shark, marlin and swordfish and limit the amount of tuna you eat to no more than two tuna steaks a week (weighing about 140g cooked or 170g raw) or four medium-size cans of tuna a week (with a drained weight of about 140g per can).