1. Go to the dentist
Dental check-ups are free with an NHS dentist when you’re pregnant.
Research shows that mums-to-be suffering chronic gum disease may be seven times more likely to have a baby that’s born too early. The likely culprit is a labour-inducing chenical found in mouth bacteria.
Symptoms can include bad breath and swollen, red or bleeding gums.
2. Avoid painkillers
Taking painkillers like aspirin and ibuprofen during pregnancy has been linked to a higher risk of miscarriage.
Paracetamol is the safest painkiller for mums-to-be. But don’t overdo it.
‘If you’re taking paracetamol longer than a few days, see your GP to talk about your problem and discuss alternatives,’ advises Amanda Mansfield, consultant midwife at the Royal Free Hospital in London.
3. Pop the right pills
Taking folic acid reduces the risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect such as spina bifida.
Research also shows that if you take folic acid before conception, it could reduce the risk of having a baby with Down’s syndrome and may also cut the chances of a cleft lip and palate.
Take 400mcg a day from the time you start trying for a baby until the end of the 12th week of pregnancy.
Vitamin D is also important in pregnancy, along with calcium, to help your baby’s bones and teeth develop.
‘You can take a pregnancy multivitamin too,’ says Amanda. ‘But the key is to work on getting a balanced diet.’
4. Cut the caffeine
Too much caffeine in pregnancy has been linked to premature birth, miscarriage, stillbirth and cot death.
But you don’t need to give up coffee completely, as research indicates that up to 300mg a day is safe.
300mg = three mugs/four cups of instant coffee OR three cups of brewed coffee OR six cups of tea OR eight cans of cola.
5. Eat fish
Eating fish when pregnant will make your child brighter with more advanced communication skills, research reveals.
It is thought that omega-3 fatty acid found in oily fish such as salmon, trout and sardines are particularly important.
Pregnant women should not, however, eat more than two portions of oily fish a week because of concerns about mercury levels.
Eating fish a couple of times a week may also help guard your child against eczema.