Thinking of having a home birth?
If you like the idea of having that first cuddle in your own home, new guidance was published last year by NICE (National Institute of Health and Care Excellence) that might help: statistics show that home birth is just as safe as hospital birth for low risk women having their second child or more. So if your pregnancy is going well, you are in good health and your first delivery was straightforward, then you could think about planning a home birth. But even if this is your first baby, it could be right for you too - your midwife will help you decide. And don't worry, you can change your mind at any time and have your baby in a birth centre or labour ward.
On the day, two midwifes are usually present, one arriving earlier during labour and one just before delivery. This means that, in an emergency, one midwife can care for you and one for your baby.
A few weeks prior to your due date, you will need to ensure that you have the appropriate equipment at home as well as your normal maternity bag. Here are some of the things you might need:
· plastic sheet to protect floor, sofa or bed
· old towels or sheet to put onto of the plastic sheet
· containers in case you feel sick during labour
· a warm blanket - bin liner
· a desk light for your midwife
· clean warm towels for the baby or baby blanket.
Weight management before and during pregnancy
The statistics are quite alarming - half of the UK population is now either overweight or obese. This has a huge impact on the health of the individuals involved, and on the NHS and UK economy. Women of childbearing age are very much at risk of the adverse effects of obesity. Excessive weight gain in pregnancy is associated with increased pregnancy complications (e.g. pre-eclampsia, diabetes, high blood pressure) and adverse outcomes for both mothers and babies, and is a major risk factor for childhood obesity.
In May 2012 the British Medical Journal* published an article by a team of medical researchers which challenges the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines from 2010 which state that dieting during pregnancy is not recommended and may harm the unborn child. These researchers undertook a review of 44 previous studies involving more than 7000 obese or overweight pregnant women to establish the effects of dietary and lifestyle interventions on pregnancy outcomes. They concluded from these studies that following a healthy diet and limiting calorie intake during pregnancy to manage excessive weight and pregnancy weight gain can significantly reduce the risk of complications for you and your baby and did not affect babies’ birth weights.
If you are overweight or obese and you are thinking of having a baby, it makes sense to try to lose some weight before you conceive. If you are already pregnant then you shouldn’t be aiming to lose weight during your pregnancy, but you should manage any weight gain carefully and not gain more than has been recommended to you by your doctor or midwife. You should be eating sensibly – have a look at our advice on a balanced pregnancy diet.
If you'd like to share your experiences with us we'd love to hear how you've got on; were you able to lose weight before you conceived or how much weight did you gain during your pregnancy?
Bye for now.
Ideal foods for your hospital bag
So are you nearly there? After what may have seemed an eternity, is your pregnancy nearing the end?
For those of you at this stage, you may well be thinking about packing your bag that you take with you to the hospital and wondering what snacks or drinks to put in it. Of course what you take will depend on your favourites and what you think you might fancy, but some suggestions that I can recommend to help keep your energy levels up and to keep you well hydrated during your labour might be dried fruit, dry biscuits, cereal bars, glucose tablets and bottles of water or isotonic sports drinks. Of course these are all things that you can pack in advance, but on the day you might think of adding some extras, such as some fresh fruit, a sandwich or a yogurt. Don’t worry about whether these foods are healthy or not, but I suggest you keep away from any foods high in fats as these can make you feel very uncomfortable and may make you be sick!
Often mums in labour aren’t really thinking about food at all or may not be able to face eating anything. But if your labour is dragging on a bit, or if you do feel like eating something, then I suggest you stick to nibbling on snacks. A big meal will probably not be an option and you really won’t feel like it anyway. It’s a good idea to keep any eating or drinking during labour to ‘little and often’ and probably only in the early stages of labour.
Depending on how long your labour lasts, you may or may not need the glucose tablets to keep you going and the isotonic sports drinks may or may not be necessary, but best to go prepared.
And as for foods that might bring on your labour and therefore your hospital trip? - we did a survey of nearly 1800 new mums and perhaps not surprisingly of the mums that responded to the question “If you ate a particular food to try and bring on labour, what was it and did it work?”, eating ‘spicy food’ including curries came out as top favourite choice, followed by drinking red raspberry leaf tea and eating pineapple. In many cases these didn’t work, but many would argue they were worth a try!
Good luck with your preparations.
Not eating for two, staying healthy for two!
Looking after yourself during your pregnancy is important for you and will also give your baby the best start in life. I believe, and I hope you will all agree, that making sure your diet is as good as it can be makes good sense at this special time, to optimise your own health and also that of your growing baby.
During pregnancy, you should eat as wide a variety of different foods as possible to make sure you get all the nourishment you both need. Where there might be concerns that dietary intake might not be enough to meet requirements then supplements are recommended. This is considered to be the case with folic acid which is so important in the early stages of pregnancy, and vitamin D supplements are recommended nowadays too. Speak to your doctor if you want more information on vitamin supplements, or if it’s easier then the NHS website is really helpful.
For advice on healthy eating during pregnancy, rather than me listing it all out here, can I ask you to visit the HiPP website.
Here you will find lots of valuable information about your pregnancy diet, foods to avoid, recipes to try and what to do if you have concerns about food allergies. And if you have any questions that you can’t find answers for, you can always ask either me or one of my colleagues and we will be more than happy to help if we can.
Good luck with your pregnancy.
Until next time...
Preparing for pregnancy with a healthy diet
Whether you’re planning your first baby or you’re thinking about having another, a healthy diet makes good sense for both you and your partner. Your eating, weight and lifestyle habits have a significant influence on your health, your fertility and once you’ve become pregnant on the growth and development of your unborn baby.
Now is a great time to reassess your diet and to check that you are eating a wide variety of healthy foods. You need to have a good balance between starchy carbohydrate foods; moderate amounts of protein foods; low fat dairy products and plenty of fruits and vegetables. A healthy balanced diet should supply you with all the nutrients you need, but one vitamin that is particularly important pre-conceptually and in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy is folic acid and so you should take extra folic acid (400mcg/day) in the form of a supplement during this time.
There are also a couple of other nutrients that need special attention at this time. You should make sure you’re eating enough iron-rich foods to build up your body stores in preparation for your pregnancy, so include red meat, fish, poultry, beans, dark green leafy vegetables and wholegrain cereals regularly. Omega 3 fatty acids play a critical role in the development of the brain and nervous system of a baby so it is a good idea to top up your stores of these too by eating two portions of fish per week (at least one of these portions as oily fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel).
Both you and your partner should reduce your alcohol intakes in line with official recommendations and aim for a healthy weight. Being a healthy body weight can help you to conceive – being very underweight or obese can reduce your chances of conceiving, and being obese while pregnant can increase the risk of complications. And for your partner, it is worth checking the diet contains enough zinc and selenium containing foods as these have been shown to be linked with sperm quality. Lean red meat, wholegrain cereals, seafood and eggs are good sources of these nutrients.
If you want to read more, here are two good links which you may find useful:
Until next time....
Tags: carbohydrates, dairy, healthy, iron, minerals, obesity, pregnant, prepare, preparing for baby to arrive, supplements, vitamins, zinc