Looking after your physical health

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:

Important vitamins during pregnancy

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)

Taking medications during your pregnancy

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

You can call Mothersafe on 1800 647 848 to talk about any concerns you have about your baby’s exposure to medications and drugs during pregnancy.

Vaccinations

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.

    Dental 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.

    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

    Antenatal classes

    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.

    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.