Healthy Pregnancy

Are you thinking of getting pregnant? Perhaps you’ve just recently found out you are pregnant? This can be an exciting time but also one of anticipation with lots to learn. Here are some tips to help you have a healthy pregnancy.

Did you know?

In 2014 Australia’s birth rate was 1.80 babies per woman. In 1961 women had an average of 3.5 babies! Fertility rates were highest for females aged 30-34 and only 3.1% of babies were born to women 19 years and under.

Planning a pregnancy

Generally you want to be as healthy as possible if you are planning to get pregnant. This means, stopping smoking, use of any other illegal drugs, drinking alcohol or at least cutting back and losing weight if you’re overweight. These things also increase your chances of conceiving and carrying a healthy baby.

See your doctor or midwife as soon as possible

Taken the home pregnancy test and you’re pregnant? Congratulations! Your doctor or midwife can provide you with advice to help ensure a healthy pregnancy, and organise the tests and vaccinations required.

Around half of all women of reproductive age will experience an unplanned pregnancy. Talking to an independent trained counsellor can help you make a free and fully informed choice.

Eating well and safely

Eating a healthy diet is especially important during pregnancy. Plenty of fruit and vegies, calcium, wholegrain cereals and fibre and protein, especially fish, is important for your health and that of your baby.

You will also need folic acid in the first three months, possibly iron, calcium and iodine and you might need vitamin D if you have low exposure to the sun. Your doctor will provide you with advice tailored to your needs.

There are also some foods you should say goodbye to whilst pregnant! Foods high in listeria and salmonella can cause problems. This means avoiding foods such as pate, undercooked chicken, steak and eggs, cold cooked meats, pre-prepared salads, raw and smoked seafood, soft or blue vein cheeses, and unpasteurized milk products.

These rules have changed a lot over recent years and you may hear people say ‘we ate all those foods and our babies were healthy’. This can be true of course, but now much more is known about the impact of these bacteria on the health of babies.

Remember too… if you’re pregnant, no alcohol is the safest choice. And stopping alcohol at any stage of pregnancy will help your chances of having a healthy baby.

Be active!

The fitter you are the better, but it is never too late to start being active. Being fit will help make the pregnancy and birth easier, not to mention coping with a young baby! Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week and build up gradually if you haven’t been active before.

Walking and swimming are good exercises, and weights and core muscle strength exercises will help once that baby turns into a toddler!

Don’t forget to do your pelvic floor exercises as well – your health professional can help you with this.

Stop smoking

Giving up smoking is one of the best things that you can do for your own health and for the health of your baby – before your baby is born and afterwards. Help is available from the Quitline (phone 13 78 48) or speak with your pharmacist.

Look after yourself

Pregnancy can be physically tiring, especially early on and towards the end of your pregnancy. Get some rest and have a nap during the day if you have trouble sleeping at night.

It can also be an emotional time. You will be excited at times but you may also have worries and mood swings and be more emotional. It helps if you can talk about any concerns to a partner or friend.

Up to 10% of women suffer antenatal depression. If you’re feeling depressed, confused, or more irritable than usual seek help from a health professional. You can find out more by visiting the following websites:

Attending antenatal classes can help you share your experience and meet other people. You’ll get helpful advice about planning for the birth and afterwards, including feeding your baby.

Putting these tips into practice can give you the best chance of a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.


Ms Michele Herriot, Health Promotion Consultant