Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy

Pregnancy Guide
Having a baby is one of the most exciting things that can happen to you. But you might be feeling nervous as well. If it’s your first baby, it’s hard to know what to expect.

Your mum, colleagues, friends, and relations might all be giving you advice. And then there is all the information on the Internet as well as in magazines and books. At times it can feel overwhelming and it’s hard to know who is right when people say different things.

This post brings together everything you need to know to have a healthy and happy pregnancy and to make sure you get the care that is right for you. The guidance about pregnancy and babies does change. So it’s important to get up-to-date, trusted advice so that you can make the right decisions and choices. Navigate through the links embedded to find more information.

YOUR HEALTH IN PREGNANCY


A healthy diet and lifestyle can help you to keep well during pregnancy and give your baby the best possible start in life. This section explains some of the things you can do to stay healthy.

ANTENATAL CARE


Antenatal care is the care that you receive from health-care professionals during your pregnancy. You will be offered a series of appointments with a midwife, or sometimes with a doctor (an obstetrician). They will check that you and your baby are well, give you useful information about being pregnant and what to expect as well as answering any questions you may have.

As soon as you know you are pregnant, you should get in touch with a midwife or your GP to organize your antenatal care. It’s best to see them as early as possible. Let your midwife know if you have a disability that means you have special requirements for your antenatal appointments or labor.

CONDITIONS AND PROBLEMS IN PREGNANCY


Your body goes through a lot of changes during pregnancy. Sometimes these changes can cause you discomfort or irritation, and you may be worried about what is happening to you. There is usually nothing to worry about, but you should mention anything that concerns you to your midwife or doctor. If you think that something may be seriously wrong, trust your own judgment and get in touch with your midwife or doctor straight away.

This section describes some of the minor and more serious health problems and gives advice on how to deal with them and when you should get help.

FEELINGS AND RELATIONSHIPS


From the minute you know you are pregnant, your feelings change: feelings about yourself, about the baby, and about your future. Your relationships change: with your partner, other children, and also with your parents and friends. Coping with these changes is not always easy.

LABOR AND BIRTH


Going into labor is exciting, but you may also feel apprehensive, so it helps to be prepared well in advance. Knowing all about the stages of labor and what to expect can help you to feel more in control when the time comes.

FEEDING YOUR BABY

It’s never too early to start thinking about how you are going to feed your baby. Breastfeeding gives your baby the best possible start in life as it has lots of benefits for both you and your baby that last a lifetime. Discuss it with your partner as their help is important. You both might like to watch the Bump to Breastfeeding DVD to see what feeding your baby might be like. If you have not received a copy of the DVD, ask your midwife for one.

THE FIRST DAYS WITH YOUR BABY


The first few days with your baby can be a very emotional time for you and your partner. There is a lot to learn and do.  There is the excitement of getting to know your baby, but you will also be tired and your body will be recovering from labor and birth.

Keep your baby close to you as much as you can.  Your partner should also spend time holding and being close to your baby. They may feel a little left out, especially if they have to leave you and the baby in the hospital and return to an empty home. They may need support and encouragement to get involved. The more you can both hold and cuddle your baby, the more confident you will all feel.

WHAT YOU NEED FOR YOUR BABY


It can be easy to get confused about what you really need for your baby. You can always ask your midwife or health visitor for advice on what to buy, and you may be given a list of essentials at your antenatal classes or by your maternity service. There are some essentials that every new mother needs, as well as extras that you might want to think about. You may be able to borrow some items, and then pass them on later to another mother or keep them for a second child. 

YOU AND YOUR BABY DURING THE EARLY WEEKS



Your first few weeks at home can be an exciting but anxious time for parents as you get used to caring for your new baby.

In the first few weeks, you will be learning how to look after your baby. You will start to understand them and will learn what is normal and what may be a sign that something is wrong. But the most important thing to do in the first few weeks is to enjoy your baby. Spending time with them is the best way to help them feel safe and loved.

BABIES WHO NEED ADDITIONAL CARE


About one in eight of all babies will need extra care in the hospital, sometimes in the ordinary postnatal ward, and sometimes in a specialist neonatal area. Having a baby in neonatal care is naturally worrying for parents and every effort should be made to ensure that you receive the information, communication, and support you need.  Not all hospitals provide neonatal services so it may be necessary to transfer your baby to another hospital for specialist care.

THE LOSS OF YOUR BABY


Some women may have to cope with a miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, termination, stillbirth, or neonatal death (death shortly after birth).


Is it safe for women with diabetes to get pregnant?


THINKING ABOUT THE NEXT BABY?


Holding your new baby in your arms, it may be impossible to imagine that you will ever have the energy to go through it all again! But sooner or later, you may decide that you want another child. If you had a low birth weight baby, a baby with a disability or special needs, a miscarriage, or a stillbirth, you may be particularly anxious to do everything you can to create the best possible circumstances for your next pregnancy.
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