Looking after your physical health
A healthy lifestyle and looking after your physical health during pregnancy can reduce the health risks for you and your baby.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
What you put into your body before, during and after pregnancy can affect your baby’s health and development.
Eating a healthy diet during pregnancy will help your baby get all the nutrients they need. Some foods should be avoided when pregnant, as they can make you ill and potentially harm your baby.
Being underweight, overweight or gaining weight too quickly during pregnancy can increase the risk of health problems for you and your baby.
The pregnancy weight gain calculator can help you work out what your healthy weight gain range is during pregnancy
A healthy lifestyle can also help reduce your risk of developing a pregnancy related health problem.
You can find information and support to adopt a healthier lifestyle at:
- NSW Get Healthy Service - call 1300 806 258 or register online for free telephone health coaching to help you get healthy before, during and after pregnancy
- iCanQuit - online resources to help you quit smoking permanently, or call the Quitline on 13 78 48
- Your Room - treatment and support services for alcohol and other drugs.
Learn more about staying healthy during pregnancy at Pregnancy, Birth and Baby.
There are some nutrients that you need more of during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about any vitamin supplements you may need.
As well as a healthy diet, your doctor may recommend taking:
- folate to help protect against neural tube defects, such as spina bifida
- iodine for the healthy development of your baby’s brain and nervous system
- iron to prevent you getting anaemia (low red blood cells).
Find out more about taking vitamins during pregnancy at Pregnancy, Birth and Baby.
Many medications are safe to take while pregnant. However, some may affect your baby’s growth and development.
During your pregnancy, it’s important to talk to your doctor:
- before you stop taking any prescription medication
- about any medication you were taking when you became pregnant
- about any medication you plan to take while pregnant.
Keeping your vaccinations up to date can help protect you and your baby against illnesses that are easily spread, including:
- the flu
- whooping cough.
There are some vaccinations that you should avoid during pregnancy, including rubella and chickenpox.
Find out what vaccinations to get during pregnancy at NSW Health.
For some, pregnancy can lead to dental problems like gum disease and tooth decay.
Poor dental health can affect your pregnancy and increase the risk of your child developing tooth decay.
Having good oral hygiene reduces the chance of dental problems during pregnancy. This includes:
- brushing your teeth twice a day
- flossing daily
- having a regular dental check-up.
See your dentist before or soon after you become pregnant. It's safe to have dental treatment, but tell your dentist you are pregnant or may be pregnant.
Learn more about dental health while pregnant at NSW Health.
Reducing the risk of stillbirth
A stillbirth is when an unborn baby shows no signs of life. You can reduce the risk of stillbirth by:
- eating a healthy diet
- not smoking, drinking alcohol or taking drugs
- going to all your antenatal appointments
- monitoring any changes to your baby’s movements
- sleeping on your side from 28 weeks of pregnancy.
Pregnancy, Birth and Baby has information on recognising the warning signs and how to reduce the risk of a stillbirth.
Contact your doctor or midwife immediately if you think your baby has stopped moving, or is moving differently or less often than usual
Antenatal classes help you and your partner know what to expect during labour and after your baby is born, including:
- the signs of labour and when to go to hospital
- different birthing positions
- breathing skills to use during labour
- newborn baby behaviour.
It’s also a chance to meet other expectant parents and share your experiences.
Booking a class
Book in around 20 weeks and aim to finish the course by 36 weeks, or earlier if you're expecting more than one baby.
You can find antenatal classes through your hospital, birth centre or online. The cost of classes will depend on where you live and who is running the class.
Learn more about antenatal classes at Pregnancy, Birth and Baby.