Being well in pregnancy

Staying healthy through pregnancy is beneficial for you and your baby. Being pregnant can be a wonderful time for some mothers, and it can be a difficult time for others. We are all unique, and our situations can be very different. On top of this, during pregnancy both the physical and mental strain changes can affect how we think and feel.

How does pregnancy affect wellbeing?

Your physical and mental health during your pregnancy can impact on delivery, weight of your baby when born, even your baby's brain development. Your antenatal care programme will provide unique opportunities to get information and support so your pregnancy, and your baby, can be as healthy as possible.

Unplanned pregnancy can put new parents at greater risk of mental health issues, like depression and stress. Pregnancy can also put a strain on relationships with partners, parents, siblings and friends.

In some cases, pregnant mothers can be more at risk of domestic abuse. This can make it harder for women to access the antenatal care they need, impact on the development of the baby, increase risk of premature birth and a low birth weight. If you are worried about yourself, or someone else, search for domestic violence services.

How can I improve my wellbeing?

When you start planning to conceive, or as soon as you think you are pregnant, you should take Folic Acid supplements daily and up to 12 weeks after pregnancy. This helps prevent some known birth defects.

As soon as you know you are pregnant, refer yourself to your local midwife services. You can do this either directly or through your GP.

There are choices available to you over where and how you can receive your maternity care, and where to give birth: in a maternity unit with medical facilities, in a midwife led birth unit, or at home - midwives can advise which of these options are suitable for you depending on your health needs.

Birth preparation classes are available to all parents including discussion of birth and labour, your choices on how to feed your baby, and caring for your new baby. To find out more contact your local Children's Centre.

Despite the popular saying, don't start eating for two! Regular sized portions of healthy food are enough for the development of you and your baby. Vitamin D supplements should also be taken throughout your pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

Your midwife and health visitor will talk to you about feeding your baby. You do not have to decide whether to breast or bottle feed until your baby is born.

Stay active with low impact exercise. For advice on what exercises are good for pregnant mothers, see NHS Start4Life.

Ideally you should stop drinking alcohol and smoking before you want to conceive. For information and support on quitting, read the drinking alcohol information page and the smoking during pregnancy page.

Catching flu while pregnant can lead to complications, so it is important to protect yourself and your baby as much as you can. Pregnant mums can get the flu jab for free, among other vaccinations.

Sexual Health Services can advise on health during pregnancy, and your contraceptive choices after your baby is born. Local services are provided by Conifer.

There are a range of health conditions that are quite common in pregnancy, for example constipation, cramp, feeling hotter than usual. There are things you can do yourself to feel more comfortable, but do speak to your midwife if you are concerned about anything. The NHS website pregnancy section and Start4Life can provide a range of useful tips and advice to keep you feeling well through all your trimesters.

There are several apps you can search on both Apple app store and Android Google Play that are available free and provide trackers, due date estimators, pregnancy information and more. NHS has approved Baby Buddy, and you can claim free sample packs from Bounty and Emma's Diary. Please note: These are external companies and they may sell other services for a fee. Neither East Riding of Yorkshire Council or NHS are responsible for content found on these apps.

Use the services below to find support:

How to help others

How can I help a child or teenager?

Preparing siblings for the arrival of a baby is important. You can get advice for various age siblings and breaking the news to them on the Baby Centre website.

Concerned about an expectant mother under the age of 19? Visit the teenage pregnancy information page.

How can I help a friend or family member

Pregnant women are more tired at the start and end of their terms, and can go through a variety of hormone changes making them irritable or upset at times. It is important to support friends and relatives who are pregnant, and be aware that if they cancel plans or their personality changes, it is not personal against you. When the baby arrives, they will have other priorities as well. Having a family is a big step in life, and it is important to support friends and family members on their choice.

I'm a care worker. How can I help my client?

Midwives should refer to The Healthy Child Programme for pregnancy and the first five years of life. Encourage new parents in the East Riding to go to their nearest Sure Start Children's Centre. There is also information for professionals and new parents with the Integrated Specialist Public Health Nursing Service (ISPHNS).

How can I help people in the workplace?

Pregnant mums will feel more tired at the beginning and near the end of their pregnancy. They may also experience a number of symptoms that may affect their ability to work, and will not be able to do many manual labour tasks or be exposed to certain environments. Pregnant mothers should inform their workplace as soon as possible if their work environment could put them or the baby at risk.

NHS and Gov.UK websites have information on employee safety and rights, including maternity and paternity leave.

Employees will also need time away from work for appointments throughout their or their partner's pregnancy. While employees should be mindful of their workplace when arranging appointments, it may not always be possible to do so outside of work time. Managers should try to be flexible where possible to allow parents to attend appointments.