General pregnancy Q&A’s with our midwife

Find out about what foods to avoid and which way to lie as our experienced midwife answers your queries

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Q: I am expecting my first baby and, although I’m only 7 weeks pregnant, I am worried about lying on my front. I know that in the third trimester you definitely shouldn’t lie on your belly, but is it safe to now?

A: Many congratulations on your pregnancy. Please don’t worry about lying on your front in early pregnancy if this is comfortable for you. Your baby is very well protected and cushioned within your uterus, which at the moment is tucked down in the bony part of pelvis. By about 12 weeks, your uterus will be steadily growing and it can be felt just above your pubic bone. Certainly as your baby and your abdomen grow, you may find it less comfortable to lie on your front, but you really aren’t going to cause any harm to the baby. You may find the use of lots of soft cushions helpful in relieving any imbalance or pressure underneath your lower abdomen.

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Later on, you’ll probably find that a different position is more comfortable, but again, you won’t be harming the baby. Your baby has a way of letting you know of any discomfort she may feel, mainly through their frequent moves and kicks, and usually your body will respond by causing you to change position.

In advanced pregnancy, lying on your back would be the main position to avoid. This is due to the pressure that your growing uterus may place on the large blood vessels running along the back of the uterus carrying nutrition and oxygen to your baby. Cushions and soft wedges placed in the small of your back may be supportive in maintaining a comfortable position on your left side. What’s important at this time is that you get comfortable and have a really great night’s sleep. I hope this helps. Enjoy your pregnancy!

Q: I’ve forgotten which foods I’m supposed to avoid in pregnancy. Help!

A: When you are pregnant basic hygiene is even more important: wash your hands after using the toilet and before preparing or eating food. Cook poultry and meat well, especially lamb and pork, and wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly. Wash your hands after preparing raw meat.

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  • Liver is not recommended during pregnancy, as it contains a type of vitamin A that, if eaten to excess, can be linked to birth defects. Another type of vitamin A (beta carotene) found in red, yellow and dark green fruit and vegetables, does not build up.
  • Raw or lightly cooked eggs may contain salmonella (a cause of food poisoning). Eggs should be cooked so that the white and yolk are solid. Avoid foods containing raw and undercooked egg such as homemade mayonnaise, ice cream, cheesecake or mousse.
  • Raw or undercooked meat and poultry may contain toxoplasma. Meat and poultry should be cooked thoroughly.
  • Pate, liver sausage or unpasteurised or mould ripened soft cheeses (such as camembert, brie and blue veined cheeses) may contain listeria, a bacterium that can cause miscarriage or illness in newborn babies. Also, reheat cook-chill foods and ready-to-eat poultry meals until they are piping hot.
  • Shellfish may trigger food poisoning.
  • Peanuts and food containing peanut products: If you or the baby’s father have a history of hayfever, asthma, eczema or other allergies, avoiding peanuts and foods like peanut butter, groundnut oil and some snacks may reduce the risk of your baby developing a serious allergy to peanuts.
  • Alcohol is best avoided. Try cutting out alcohol all together, or at least limiting your intake to less than 5 units a week and not all at once (a unit is a glass of wine, measure of spirits or half a pint of lager). Too much alcohol during pregnancy is associated with foetal alcohol syndrome, which can cause a range of abnormalities in the baby.

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