25 steps to a healthy pregnancy

From cutting out alcohol, to embracing your growing baby bump, here are 25 things to help you have a happy and healthy pregnancy

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  • 1. Look after your back

    Make sure you have good back support if you sit at a desk all day, and if you ever have to lift, always bend from your knees. This is the perfect time to hint for a massage from dad-to-be to ease tension in your shoulders, and follow these top tips for beating pregnancy back pain.

  • 2. Go alcohol free

    The jury’s out on whether a small amount of alcohol can harm your unborn baby, but official guidelines say steer clear. Instead of getting the booze blues, try these non-alcoholic cocktail recipes and check out our guide to the best alcohol-free drinks.

  • 3. Take folic acid

    You need a daily intake of 400mcg of folic acid during the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy to help ensure your baby’s spinal cord develops well. As well as taking a supplement, folic acid can be found in foods in your diet.

  • 4. Drink decaffeinated coffee and tea

    Limit your caffeine intake to no more than 200mg a day, as too much caffeine in your system can hinder blood flow to the placenta. To put 200mg in real terms, it's equivalent to:

    • 2 mugs of instant coffee per day OR
    • 4 cups of tea per day OR
    • 5 cans of cola per day
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  • 5. Ditch the high heel shoes

    The pregnancy hormone relaxin makes your ligaments soften as they get ready for the birth, so your ankles aren’t strong enough to stand up on skyscraper heels. Save them for very special occasions and embrace the flats. Don't worry about not looking glam without your heels, check out our maternity party fashion special - sans heels!

  • 6. Eat cranberries

    Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can be common in pregnancy. Cranberries – eaten either as a snack or in sugar-free juice – help to reduce the bacteria levels that can lead to these infections. If you're suffering from cystitis in pregnancy, find out about the symptoms and treatments.

  • 7. Drink enough water

    “Drinking six to eight glasses of water a day will help your skin stretch more easily and stop you feeling tired,” says Wendy Powell, founder of No More Excuses pregnancy and postnatal personal training. Not convinced? Take a look at all the health benefits water can bring to mums-to-be.

  • 8. Stay away from fizzy drinks

    Fizzy drinks are full of sugar and often caffeine, so they are best avoided. If you do need your fix, try tonic water. It’s still got the bubbles and can help beat nausea and heartburn by cutting through fats from your food.

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  • 9. Wear breathable clothing

    The extra weight from your baby and the resulting increased blood supply means your temperature will rise. Keep cool and sweat-free by wearing natural fibres – such as cotton – to let your skin breathe. For great tips on how to dress your growing baby bump, take a look at the advice Mamas & Papas' fashion director shared with ThinkBaby.

  • 10. Embrace your growing pregnancy waistline

    When your bump starts to become bigger, wear trousers and skirts with elasticated waists so your expanding tum doesn’t feel hemmed in. Also invest in maternity tops that are longer at the front. Find out when's the best time to buy maternity clothes.

  • 11. Change your pregnancy skincare

    Hormone changes affect the oil balance in your skin, so you may need to switch your moisturiser to one suitable for sensitive skin. Skin changes might also mean you need to try different make-up shades. If you're confused on what products are safe to use during pregnancy, take a look at our fabulous guide to the best pregnancy and beauty goodies.

  • 12. Have a bra fitting

    Your breasts grow in size during pregnancy and they can become heavy and uncomfy. As you go into
    your second trimester, get fitted for a maternity bra so your old one doesn’t pinch on your new shape.

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  • 13. Exercise your pelvic floor muscles

    Pelvic floor exercises are essential if you want to avoid accidental leaks after childbirth. Happily, you can do them without anyone knowing. Squeeze as if trying not to urinate, and hold for five to 10 seconds at a time. Repeat this 10 times. Do it daily for the best results. At your desk, on the bus or in the shower… there’s no excuse!

  • 14. Eat breakfast

    "You need slow-burning carbs as well as protein to give you sustained energy," says Wendy Powell, founder of No More Excuses pregnancy and postnatal personal training. "Porridge or muesli with fruit and natural yogurt are perfect, or a poached or boiled egg with wholegrain toast and tomatoes."

    If you're confused on what foods are good to eat, take a look at our A-Z guide to foods that are safe to eat when pregnant.

  • 15. Get enough sleep and rest

    “Weekend lie-ins are a must if I’m knackered,” says mum Heather, who is 16 weeks pregnant. “I also get an early night as many times a week as I can.”

    If you're having sleeping problems, take a look at how to tackle pregnancy sleeping troubles and our guide to pregnancy pillows.

  • 16. Make a fruit smoothie

    Smoothies are an easy way to boost your fruit intake and they also satisfy those sugar cravings. Add berries, peaches or a banana to some fresh juice. Throw ice into the blender to chill and add oats or wheatgerm to thicken.

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  • 17. Snack throughout the day

    “To get through morning sickness I eat little and often, so I don’t go through waves of being full and then hungry,” says Rachel, mum to Tomos, 3, and Joseff, 2, and 13 weeks pregnant.

    If you're suffering, try these tips morning sickness tips.

  • 18. Keep active

    Keeping fit will maintain your energy and get you in great shape for the birth. Pregnancy is not the time to take up a new sport but gentle daily exercise like walking, yoga or swimming is fine. Use your lunch break for a walk around the block.

  • 19. Steer clear of spices

    In your third trimester, when the valve at the top of the stomach relaxes, acid reflux can be a problem –
    try to avoid spicy, rich, fatty and fried foods as these are a trigger for heartburn.

  • 20. Stretch

    "Try rotating your ankles at intervals during the day if you’re suffering from leg cramps," says Maylyn Bonds, midwife for Tommy's. "This can be done while you’re sat at your desk or in front of the TV. It also helps to keep them elevated, so pop a footrest under your desk."

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  • 21. Get enough vitamin D and calcium

    "Vitamin D and calcium are important for you and your baby’s bones," says Tommy's midwife Maylyn Bonds. Include oily fish, milk and yogurts in your diet. "Also, get outside as much as you can as the sun is a natural source of vitamin D," says Maylyn.

  • 22. Avoid constipation and piles

    Pressure from the weight of your baby, as well as constipation, can lead to piles. "Keep your fluids up and your fibre intake high," says Maylyn. "If you’re really suffering, ask your GP for cream." Also check out our guide on what to do if you're experiencing constipation in pregnancy.

  • 23. Brush your teeth

    Pregnancy can soften your gums, leaving them prone to bleeding, inflammation and infection. The good news? Dental care is free when you're pregnant. So have a check-up and be sure to brush twice a day, using mouthwash afterwards. Take a look at our dental care in pregnancy guide.

  • 24. Eat fibre

    You're prone to constipation in pregnancy as hormones preparing the pelvic muscles for labour slow down the digestive process. Counter this by eating lots of greens and wholegrain pasta, rice and bread.

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  • 25. Stay safe at work

    “Ask your employer for a workplace risk assessment: looking at your chair, how many breaks you get and how near to a loo you are,” advises Maylyn Bonds, midwife for Tommy’s.

Last updated on 8 December 2010