Keep colds at bay
Pregnant women are more susceptible to illnesses, which can be more severe and last longer during pregnancy. Unfortunately, in winter there tends to be more flu and vomiting viruses about.
Dr Lisa Ackerley, food and health safety expert on BBC’s Watchdog says, ‘Make sure you wash your hands frequently and take an antibacterial gel out with you in case there are no basins to hand.’
And all pregnant women are being advised to have a flu jab this year. Prima Baby’s GP Dr Rob Hicks says that it offers sensible protection when pregnant. ‘The benefits of this vaccination definitely outweigh the risks.’
Nurse your cold
If you do come down with a bad cold or flu, drink plenty of liquid and rest as much as possible. Paracetamol is believed to be safe in pregnancy. And don’t be shy about using your sick leave. Your body will need to rest and recover. In addition, says Dr Hicks, ‘If you suffer with symptoms such as fever, shortness of breath, yellow-green spit, or if symptoms worsen, seek medical advice. You should also see your doctor if you’re concerned you may have come into contact with chickenpox (and not already had it) or cat faeces.’
Get up and out
Seventy-five per cent of pregnant women do no exercise, and yet moderate exercise in pregnancy is not only safe, it’s good for you. Prima Baby’s fitness expert Melissa Nicci says, ‘Exercising outdoors is the best option, but if the weather is really too grim, then a prenatal DVD at home will help keep minor aches and pains at bay.’
Ideally, you should do a minimum of 30 minutes a day, most days of the week. Do ask your doctor before taking up a new sport, but swimming and brisk walking in pregnancy are good ways of getting started.
Take some sunshine
The Department of Health advises all pregnant and breastfeeding women to take 10mcg of vitamin D daily. Dr Hicks says, ‘If a woman has a lack of vitamin D, it can hinder an unborn child or baby’s absorption of calcium and leave them at risk of weak bones and teeth. Pregnant women should also take 400mcg folic acid before conceiving and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Some women in high risk groups may be advised to take more.’
When you’re choosing a supplement, read the small print carefully. Pregnacare recently launched the Big Deal campaign to encourage all women to check their pregnancy supplements before they buy, as not all contain the recommended doses.
Stay food savvy
Bacteria grow more slowly when it is colder, but just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you can afford to be more relaxed about food hygiene than you would during summer. Dr Lisa Ackerley says, ‘When the heating is on, perishable food could become dangerous quickly. Avoid pate, unpasturised, mould-ripened cheese (brie and camembert) and blue cheese while pregnant, to reduce the risk of contracting listeria.’
And make sure you always use clean cutlery and glasses. If you want to eat out, check your restaurant’s Food Hygiene Rating on the government website, ratings.food.gov.uk.