Pregnancy tips and advice

Our family GP gives advice, facts and tips about pregnancy

It’s a good idea to cut alcohol and cigarettes when trying to conceive

Solutions for swollen ankles

  • Drink up! Don’t restrict fluids. In fact, drinking fluids can help.
  • Take the weight off. Raising ankles, ideally to hip level or above, can ease swelling, as can lying on your side to relieve pressure on veins.
  • Move it! Exercise can help reduce swelling. If you’re sitting or standing for periods of time try taking a walk or stretch and move your legs regularly.
  • Support tights. Maternity support tights or stockings can ease swelling.
  • Cold water. Hot weather makes swelling worse, so try resting swollen ankles in a bowl of cool water.

Did you know…

  • Only one in eight women take folic acid prior to conception (as is advised).
  • 61% of women in their last trimester have sex at least once a month, according the Journal of Women’s Health 2008.
  • At 14 weeks your unborn baby’s heart beats over 160 times a minute.
  • Taking a specially designed pregnancy multivitamin supplement can greatly reduce the risk of a baby having a low birth weight for his or her gestational age.
  • 11% of women experience postnatal depression
  • That more boys are born through IVF than girls – 128 boys for every 100 girls.
  • One in four pregnant women is deficient in vitamin D in winter. The NHS advises mums-to-be to get it from diet and exposure to the sun. But most European countries recommend vitamin D supplements for women of reproductive age. What to do? I suggest eating more vitamin D-rich food, like oily fish, eggs and meat. Check with your GP before taking antenatal vitamin supplements.
  • Up to 90% of first-time mums get stretch marks, and younger women tend to develop more.
  • Less than 1 in 5 women take folic acid before conception

Can bed rest reduce the risk of miscarriage after bleeding?

While many women prefer to rest when they have some bleeding, research fails to show it reduces the risk of miscarriage. While strenuous and dangerous activities are generally not recommended, normal activity is thought to be ok. A lot of doctors advise avoiding sex if you have bled until the cause is found, so discuss this with your GP.

Can you get pregnant straight after giving birth?

Don’t get complacent, as the period when no contraception is needed after pregnancy is VERY short – just three weeks. Remember that you ovulate (release an egg) before you have a period so you could get pregnant before you ever have a period. Contraception should be started at three weeks after delivery as ovulation can occur from the 28th day after you have given birth.

5 fertility boosters

1. Check your BMI. Both men and women should aim for a BMI of 20-25 as this optimises fertility.

2. Supplement his diet. Antioxidants such as vitamin C and E, as well as folic acid, zinc and selenium may improve sperm function, although the evidence is not completely conclusive.

3. Drop the drink. Alcohol reduces both male and female fertility. Men shouldn’t drink more than the recommended 21 units per week. Women should ideally cut out alcohol completely while trying to get pregnant, some studies have shown that even a few units can affect fertility.

4. Stop smoking. Smoking affects sperm production and significantly reduces female fertility.

5. Lose the lube. Some lubricants can affect sperm motility so try to avoid these.

The cure for heartburn?

Many women experience heartburn in pregnancy. Although treatments such as antacids may relieve symptoms, some women continue to suffer. But acupuncture could help, according to a new study.

Researchers in Brazil asked women to monitor their heartburn levels while they addressed the problem – of those having acupuncture 75% said they felt better, compared to 44% of those taking antacids.

So, are the little needles the answer to pregnancy indigestion? While some experts welcome the idea, others said they feel more research is needed. If you’re thinking of exploring acupuncture as a treatment in pregnancy for heartburn or other problems, speak to your midwife and a registered practitioner before going ahead.

Umbilicus facts

  • The umbilicus is the end of the cord. After the cord is clamped and cut it leaves a small stump – the umbilicus.
  • It will dry up. Initially the bit of cord still attached to your baby will be soft and fleshy. It should dry up, turn black and fall off 5 to 15 days after delivery.
  • Pus may mean an infection. If you see pus coming out, see your doctor who’ll prescribe antibiotics.
  • Watch out for a scar. Sometimes after the cord has fallen off a small piece of scar tissue is left. Your GP can treat it.
  • A soft lump (or hernia) is common. It should go by age 5.

Health essentials if you’re trying to conceive

  • Start taking folic acid. Ideally, most women should take 400mg a day for three months before trying to conceive.
  • Check you’re immune to rubella. If you’re not, a vaccine is available.
  • Chill out. Stress reduces the chances of conception by 12% so relax, or do more exercise to release endorphins.
  • Stop smoking or cut down as it affects your fertility. Ask your GP for advice.
  • 5Monitor the booze. Alcohol can affect fertility (in men as well), so easing off could boost your chance of conceiving.

Ways to boost your post-natal energy levels

  • Slow release carbs like whole grain cereals and brown bread for breakfast will keep you going all morning.
  • A brisk walk with your baby in a sling or pram will boost energy and lift your mood too.
  • Avoid caffeine, especially late in the day. Water’s best for hydration.
  • Rest when you can as disturbed sleep will affect energy levels.
  • Be an iron lady Low iron levels can cause decreased energy. If you’re feeling really tired, talk to your GP.

Facts about bleeding during pregnancy

  • It’s common. Around 1 in 4 women will experience bleeding at some stage.
  • You’ll be examined by your GP, and possibly sent for an ultrasound.
  • If you are over 14 weeks, the GP will also listen for your baby’s heartbeat.
  • It can be your ‘period’. Some women may bleed at the time the baby imbeds into the womb (implantation bleeding) or when their period would be due.
  • Hormonal changes affecting the cervix can bring on a bleed, often – more commonly – after sex.

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