1) Brush up on dental hygiene
“Hormone changes and high levels of progesterone in your system during pregnancy can enhance bacterial growth in your mouth,” explains Dr Aditi Desai from the British Dental Association (www.bda.org). “This can soften your gums making them prone to infection and inflammation, known as gingivitis.”
If you’re indulging any weird and wonderful cravings for sweet stuff, you’re also adding more sugar to your diet, which we all know isn’t great for your pearly whites.
2) See your dentist
The good news is, dental care is free on the NHS during pregnancy and until your baby is 1, so when your pregnancy is confirmed, make an appointment to see your dentist. “When you ring up to book, tell the receptionist that you’re pregnant,” advises Aditi. “Remember to take along your pregnancy exemption certificate that your midwife will give you so they don’t charge you.” If you do start to suffer from bleeding gums during your nine months, contact your dentist so it can be assessed and treated.
3) Brush when you can
If you’re coping with morning sickness and can’t stomach the taste of toothpaste early on in the morning, don’t be put off doing it, just wait until the queasy feeling passes and brush your teeth later on in the day when you’re feeling less sick.
4) Save the best until last
In the evening your mouth produces less saliva, which is important to oral health and keeping bleeding gums at bay, so brush your gnashers extra carefully before you go to bed for the night. And don’t forget to use dental floss either – it’s a crucial weapon in the war against gum disease.
5) Monitor your emotions
Welling up for no reason or shouting at your partner over the washing-up? Don’t panic. “It’s common to feel over-emotional and moody in pregnancy,” reassures health and wellbeing consultant Liz Tucker (www.behappybehealthy.co.uk). “Not only is your system racing with extra hormones, but your body’s also working hard so it’s not surprising you might feel knackered and grumpy.” Your body shape is also changing and this can take its toll on your emotional state.
6) Talk it through
“Chat about any concerns with your family, friends or midwife,” suggests Liz. “Don’t bottle it up. Get on the phone, go and meet a mate, and be honest about how you’re feeling.” Also, make sure you tell your partner – so he can be involved and prepared for any irrational outbursts.
7) Deep breathing
“Try and fit in mini relaxation breaks to still your racing mind,” says Liz. “Whenever you come to a natural break during the day, such as after a phone call, take five deep breaths to stay calm.”
8) Try this …
“I’ve been in panic mode recently as I’m about to stop work. But I’ve learnt not to stress the little things and focus on my baby. A long relaxing bath at night seems to do wonders for my mood, too.”
Kirsty Richards, 34, from Suffolk, 34 weeks pregnant
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10) Watch your eyes
You might not think your peepers could be affected by pregnancy, but fluid retention during your nine months can actually dry up the tear gland in your eyes, making them irritable. “Water retention and a change in your hormone levels means your tear glands don’t get enough liquid to keep your eyes moist,” explains Karen Sparrow, education adviser at the Association of Optometrists (www.aop.org.uk). “Because of this, your eyes might start to feel dry, itchy or tired, especially in your third trimester when water retention is most common.”
11) Keep blinking
It’s a tricky thing to remember, but try and blink slowly and regularly throughout the day to keep your eyes moist and relaxed. “Five times an hour, stop what you’re doing, look away from your computer or TV screen, and consciously blink slowly, five times,” advises Karen.
12) Get tested
Unfortunately, eye care during pregnancy isn’t free, but if you wear contacts or glasses, make regular appointments to have your eyes tested and your prescription checked throughout your nine months. “If you wear contacts, try and alternate between them and your glasses to keep your eyes comfy,” says Karen. “You can also use eye drops to add moisture, but make sure you ask your pharmacist before you buy any.”
13) Assess your make-up
“There’s no need to stop using eye make-up when you’re expecting, but go for gentle, hypoallergenic brands,” says Karen. “Avoid waterproof mascara too, as if any water does get on your lashes, it will stay there and could irritate your eyelids.” Remember to remove your make-up before bed to let eyes and skin breathe.
14) Stay hydrated
“During pregnancy your blood volume increases, which makes your system retain more fluid to help your circulation,” explains Dr Emma Derbyshire from the Natural Hydration Council (www.naturalhydration council.org.uk). “Urinary tract infections, constipation and piles, which are common in pregnancy, can also be eased by keeping yourself well watered.”
15) Keep your glass full
The average adult should drink six to eight glasses of water a day, but you need to up this to seven to eight tumbler-sized glasses when you’re pregnant. You can tell if you’re not drinking enough: “Look out for a dry mouth, a headache and overheating, as these are signs of mild dehydration,” explains Emma. “Sit down and sip water slowly if you’re feeling wobbly.”
16) Vary your choice
It’s recommended you have no more than 200mg of caffeine a day, which is the equivalent of two cups of tea and a chocolate bar. So what should you be drinking? “Water is your best bet as it’s calorie-free, but try and vary it so you don’t get bored,” says Emma. Herbal and fruit teas, milk and sugar-free squash are all healthy choices too.
17) Drink after sickness
“If you’re suffering from morning sickness, always make sure you have a glass of water after vomiting as you need to replenish the fluids you’ve lost,” explains Emma.
18) Try this …
“I’ve been very thirsty throughout my pregnancy, so I always take a bottle of water in my bag when I go out, and while I’m at work I keep a pint glass by my desk so I can refill it easily.”
Rachel Malcom, 32, from London, 38 weeks pregnant