Women's and Neonatal Services

Your Health During Pregnancy

Here is some important information you should know to ensure you have a healthy pregnancy. Further information about pregnancy, birth and afterwards is available from your local midwife, who will be happy to discuss our services and answer your questions in greater detail. Or you can read the Pregnancy Book published by the Department of Health.

Folic Acid / Vitamin D

If you are not already taking a folic acid supplement you should start taking this straight away (400mcg/day). This will help to protect against certain rare abnormalities. You should also start taking Vitamin D supplement to help build and maintain good bone health (10mcg/day). You can get Healthy Start Vitamins (or sometimes called, Pregnancy Multivitamins) from your local Children’s’ Centre or Health Clinic.


The more active and fit you are, the easier it will be for you to cope comfortably with your changing shape and weight during pregnancy. It will also help with the demands of labour and looking after a newborn baby. Regular walking or swimming are particularly good and after 12 weeks some people enjoy attending yoga classes. It is not a good idea to start doing vigorous exercise if your body is not already used to it. Please ask your midwife for further advice.


You should continue to eat a varied and healthy diet. Iron tablets are only advised if your blood tests show that they would be helpful for you. A drop in iron levels is often a normal part of pregnancy, so a diet containing plenty of foods that contain iron will help your body adapt to this drop.

Foods to avoid

The following foods may contain elements which could be harmful to your unborn child and you are advised to avoid them:

  • Soft/blue cheeses
  • Unpasteurised milk products
  • Raw meats, patÚs, liver, raw/soft eggs
  • Raw shellfish, swordfish, marlin, shark (mercury content)
  • Tuna steaks should be avoided, but up to 4 tins of tuna per week is fine.

This is an infection which is not usually dangerous to healthy adults and children but could harm an unborn baby. We do not routinely test for this infection but would advise the following precautions:

  • If you do not have to pick up or handle cats, then don't
  • Cat owners, in particular, should take extra care since the infection can be caught from cat faeces, you should for example, wear rubber gloves when changing cat litter
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before preparing any food
  • Ensure raw meats are stored separately at the bottom of your fridge and only eat meat which has been cooked thoroughly
  • Wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly to remove all traces of soil

You will have a healthier pregnancy and baby if you do not smoke. If you need help to stop smoking you can telephone the NHS Pregnancy Smoking Helpline on 0800 1699 169 for support and advice. You can also talk to your midwife or doctor. West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust has a No Smoking policy which means you cannot smoke anywhere on hospital premises. If your partner or anyone else who lives with you smokes, their smoke can affect you and the baby both before and after birth. You may also find it more difficult to quit if someone around you smokes.

Alcohol/Recreational Drugs

You will be asked at the booking appointment if any of the above applies to you. Recent Department of Health information advises that you should avoid all alcohol during pregnancy. Please ask your midwife for more information and/or support if you require.

Sex in Pregnancy

There is no physical reason why you should not continue to have sexual intercourse throughout a normal pregnancy. Your midwife is used to discussing this subject and will be happy to discuss any concerns you may have.


Generally women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are advised not to take medication that can be brought from a shop without first consulting with their midwife or local pharmacist. All prescribed medication will be provided by a doctor such as your GP or obstetrician and will have been checked to be safe to take. Please make sure you tell your dentist that you are pregnant or breastfeeding before treatment.

Next: Routine Ante-natal Care »

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