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  • "Eeyore" started this thread
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Tuesday, June 3rd 2008, 9:55am


Can I drink alcohol if I am pregnant?

The Department of Health recommends that you avoid drinking alcohol if you are pregnant. You should also avoid drinking alcohol if you're trying for a baby.

If you do choose to drink, to minimise the risk to your unborn baby, you should not drink more than one to two units of alcohol once or twice a week. You should not get 'drunk' and you should avoid binge drinking (drinking several units of alcohol in one session). One unit of alcohol is equal to half a pint of bitter or ordinary lager, or a pub measure of spirits.

Heavy drinking during pregnancy is associated with low birth weight and other more serious birth defects. Excessive alcohol can cause damage to your unborn baby at all stages in pregnancy. Serious damage caused to unborn babies through alcohol consumptions is known as Foetal Alcohol Syndrome.

It is estimated that in the UK there are more than 6,000 children born each year with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome.

Many women don't realise they are pregnant until some weeks into their pregnancy. If you're trying for a baby or planning to do so, it's recommended that you should avoid alcohol.

Previously, the Department of Health recommended that you should not drink more than one or two units of alcohol more than once or twice a week. If you're already pregnant and you've followed earlier Department of Health advice, you will not have put yourself or your baby at risk. The latest guidance has been introduced to provide stronger, consistent advice across the whole of the UK.

Can I use hair-dye when pregnant?

The chemicals in permanent and semi-permanent hair dyes are not highly toxic. Most research, although limited, does show that it is safe to colour your hair while pregnant. Some studies have found that very high doses of the chemicals in hair dyes may cause harm however, these doses are massive in comparison to the very low amount of chemicals that a woman colouring her hair is exposed to.

Many women decide to wait to dye their hair until after the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, when the risk of chemical substances harming the baby is much lower. You can reduce the risk further by making sure that (if you are colouring your hair yourself) you wear gloves, leave the dye on for the minimum time, and work in a well-ventilated room.

Highlighting your hair also reduces any risk, as the chemicals used are only absorbed by the hair itself, and not by your scalp and into your bloodstream. Semi-permanent pure vegetable dyes, such as henna, are a safe alternative.

Do remember that pregnancy can affect the normal condition of your hair. Your hair may react differently to colouring or perming, becoming more or less absorbent, frizzy or unpredictable. Its always a good idea to do a strand test first using any treatment you intend to use. Speak to your hairdresser for advice.

Information about hair treatments while breastfeeding is limited, but it is very unlikely that a significant amount of the chemicals that are used in hair dyes will be passed on to your breast milk. This is because very little enters the mothers bloodstream and, in the past, many women have received hair treatments while breastfeeding and there have been no known negative results.

Smoking and Pregnancy

Smoking during pregnancy can seriously affect both your own, and your baby's health. When you smoke, over 4,000 chemicals enter your body. One of those chemicals is carbon monoxide, which gets into your bloodstream, and stops your baby from getting as much oxygen. This will affect your baby's growth rate and cause its heart rate to rise.

If you smoke during pregnancy, your baby is more likely to:
• be born prematurely,
• have a low-birth weight, as babies of smokers are, on average, 200g (8oz) lighter than other babies. The more you smoke, the more your baby's weight is affected,
• cry more after the birth because of nicotine withdrawal symptoms,
• have smaller organs,
• have poor lung function,
• get painful conditions in early childhood, such as inflammation of the middle ear and asthmatic bronchitis, and
• possibly die from cot death.
Also, when you smoke:
• your chances of having a miscarriage are increased,
• you have a higher chance of the placenta coming away from the womb before the baby is born, which can cause premature birth or stillbirth,
• you are more likely to have morning sickness, and
• you put your own health at risk, increasing the risk of conditions such as cancer and heart disease.
The sooner you stop smoking, the better - and it's never too late. Even stopping in the last few weeks of your pregnancy can still benefit you and your child. There are lots of groups and organisations which can help support your decision to stop smoking.
You can call the confidential NHS Pregnancy smoking helpline on 0800 169 9169 to speak to a trained advisor who can provide you with further advice and information. The helpline is open 12 noon till 9pm every day.

I’m pregnant – can paint fumes cause harm to my unborn baby?

It's highly unlikely that paint fumes can harm your unborn baby. The risk from modern household paints is very low. However, solvent-based paints and old paintwork (which may contain traces of lead) may pose a greater risk, For this reason, you should avoid using solvent-based paints and stripping old paintwork whilst you're pregnant.

Risk of paint fumes and decorating materials

The risk of fumes from modern household paints harming your baby is low. But it's impossible to know exactly how small the risk is. This is because it's very difficult to measure the substances and chemicals your body absorbs during activities such as painting.
Very little research has been carried out into the effects of paint fumes on unborn babies. However, the few studies carried out show that the risk is extremely low.

Any small risk there is to your baby is greatest during your first trimester (weeks 0-13). This is because your baby's organs start to develop during the first trimester. Any harmful fumes or chemicals at this stage could affect your baby more severely. Therefore, as a precaution it's best to avoid painting and decorating until at least the 14th week of your pregnancy.

Lead-based paints

Most chemicals that are known to be harmful to developing babies are not contained in household paints. However, before the 1970s, many paints contained elements of lead (a metal which can be poisonous if it enters the body).
Therefore, it's best not to strip down old paint work if you're pregnant, or planning to get pregnant. If the paint you are stripping contains lead, you could inhale it in the clouds of dust which come from stripping the paint. This could potentially harm the development of your baby.

Solvent-based paints

Solvent-based paints can contain varying levels of substances that can be harmful, such as white spirit, xylene, toluene and alkanes. Long-term exposure to solvents can seriously affect a developing baby. Solvents can irritate the thin lining of cells (mucous membranes) of many parts of your body, such as your nose, mouth and eyes. They can also cause headaches and nausea.
'Quick drying paints' often have a high solvent content, and will usually smell unpleasant. If possible, you should avoid using solvent-based paints whilst pregnant, to help minimise any risk of the fumes or substances affecting your baby. For example, if you frequently use solvents, or materials containing high levels of solvent substances, (perhaps as part of your job) then your baby may be at risk. Talk to your employer if your job requires you to frequently use solvent-based products.

Reducing the risk

If you want to completely eliminate the risk of paint fumes affecting your baby, then you should avoid doing any painting or decorating.
However, if you do choose to do some painting or decorating, there are some steps you can take, to help prevent paint or chemical fumes affecting your baby. For example:
• Use paints and decorating materials which are labelled as being suitable for nurseries or children's rooms, as these materials should contain fewer chemicals.
• Use water-based paints instead of solvent-based ones.
• Avoid using spray paints and other decorating materials containing solvents.
• If you're unsure what chemicals or substances are contained in your paint or decorating material, contact the manufacturer, who should be able to advise you.
• Make sure any room you paint in is well ventilated, by opening any windows or doors.
• Use gloves, long trousers and long sleeved tops to help protect your skin.
You should also avoid drinking or eating in a room you're decorating in, and wash your hands when you've finished painting. This way you won't accidentally swallow (ingest) any of the decorating materials.
If you're pregnant always make sure you take it easy when decorating - try and leave any physically demanding or potentially dangerous tasks to someone else.





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Tuesday, June 3rd 2008, 10:00am

Is it safe to use a sauna/jacuzzi if I am pregnant?

There is little research on using saunas during pregnancy. However, it's generally considered wise to avoid them, because of the risks of overheating and becoming dehydrated.

When you use a sauna, jacuzzi, hot tub, steam bath or steam room, your body cannot lose heat effectively by sweating. Your body's core temperature therefore rises. If you're pregnant, the amniotic fluid in which your baby floats can also start to heat up. Some evidence suggests that a significant rise in your core temperature can cause birth defects. For example, to your baby's developing nervous system.

When you're pregnant, your heart and blood vessels are already working harder, to support your developing baby and expanding womb. If you overheat, the demands on your heart and blood vessels will increase further. More blood flows close to your skin, to help cool your body by sweating. Therefore, less blood flows to your internal organs. If there isn't enough blood flowing to your brain, it could make you feel faint (when you feel weak and unsteady before passing out, usually just for a few seconds)

For the same reasons, it's also best not to exercise in hot or humid conditions.

Is it safe to use a sunbed during pregnancy?

Getting a tan using a sunbed is no safer than sunbathing outdoors. Sunbeds use UV (ultraviolet) rays, which is the same type of harmful radiation that is found in sunlight. A tan is actually your body's attempt to protect itself from the damaging effect of these rays.

A lot of exposure to UV rays increases your chances of developing malignant melanoma, a form of skin cancer, as well as causing damage to the eyes and aging the skin prematurely.

Lots of women find their skin becomes more sensitive during pregnancy, which means you may be more likely to burn in the sun. Changing hormone levels will also make you more prone to skin pigmentation (colouration) - dark, irregular patches of skin called chloasma sometimes appear on the face. This can be a sign that your skin will react more strongly to sunlight, and the chloasma is likely to increase if you sunbathe or use a sunbed.

There is currently no clear evidence about the effect of UV rays from sunbeds on an unborn baby. However, early studies show that there may be a link between increased UV rays and a folic acid deficiency. This is because UV rays can break down folic acid. Folic acid is very important in the development of the baby's neural system (brain and spinal cord), which is formed in the first trimester (weeks 1-13) of pregnancy.

If you really want to have a tan while you are pregnant, it is much safer to use fake tan than a sunbed. However, fake tanning when pregnant still isn't recommended and you should always test the product on a small patch of skin first in case you have an allergic reaction.

I am diabetic and pregnant

A recent study carried out by researchers from the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health found that expectant mums with diabetes (types 1 and 2) are five times more likely to have a stillborn baby than a woman without the condition. Babies who have a mother with diabetes also have an increased risk of dying within four weeks of the birth, and are more likely to have a major congenital deformity.

However, these risks can be reduced by keeping your blood sugar levels under control both before conception and during your pregnancy.

Ideally, you should plan your pregnancy, as taking certain steps before you conceive will increase your chances of having a healthy delivery.

Before becoming pregnant

The information below will help you prepare for pregnancy.

• Contact your diabetic care team - they will be able to give you advice and support about preparing for pregnancy.
• Keep your blood sugar level under control - having a well-controlled blood sugar level, particularly during the first eight weeks of pregnancy, will help prevent any problems with your baby's development.
• Review your medications - if you are also taking medicines to control your blood pressure, they may not be suitable for use by pregnant women. Alternative medicines should be available.
• Have an eye test - people with diabetes are prone to an eye condition known as diabetic retinopathy, and the risk of the condition developing increases during pregnancy. Any underlying problems in your eyes should be treated before you become pregnant.
• Stop smoking and drinking alcohol - both nicotine and alcohol are harmful to babies, and alcohol can also affect your blood sugar level.
• Follow dietary advice - your diabetic care team will be able to advise you about the best foods to eat in order to control your blood sugar level. If you are overweight, it is recommended that you try to get down to a healthy weight.
• Take a folic acid supplement - taking 5mg of folic acid before conception, and then for the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy, will reduce the risk of your baby developing any problems with their spine, such as spina bifida.

During pregnancy

It is important to check your blood sugar levels four times a day throughout your pregnancy; ideally before and after meals, and before bedtime. Report any changes to your diabetic care team.

Make sure that you attend all your antenatal appointments. You will also be offered regular appointments with your diabetic care team which you need to attend. It is also important that you follow any advice given to you by your care team about diet and exercise.

If you are using insulin, make sure that you have a glucagon emergency kit at home and that you, and other people in your house, know how to use it in case of an episode of hypoglycaemia.

Will having sex during pregnancy harm my baby?

Your baby is well cushioned by a sac of fluid well beyond the neck of the womb (cervix). There's no medical evidence to suggest that sex during pregnancy does any harm to the baby. A loving physical relationship is important for your wellbeing during pregnancy, and sexual intercourse can actually help your body to prepare for labour.

You may be advised not to have sex at certain stages of pregnancy if you have a history of miscarriage or premature labour, or if you have a low-lying placenta. You should speak to your doctor or midwife if any of these situations apply to you.

You may notice mild contractions during and after sex, but they are not powerful enough to start labour if your body is not ready. If it is ready, sex may help to start labour - substances called prostaglandins are contained in semen and can help to soften the cervix, and hormones released by nipple stimulation encourage the womb to contract.

Many couples find that pregnancy improves their sex life and presents an opportunity to find new ways of making love, by trying different positions to find one that's comfortable.





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Tuesday, June 3rd 2008, 10:02am

What exercise can I do when pregnant?

Keeping active while you're pregnant will help you stay fit and toned, making it easier to get back into shape after birth. However, it is important to check with your GP or midwife before starting an exercise programme.

You can continue to take part in most activities during the first trimester of your pregnancy (months 1-3), but may need to stop vigorous exercise as your pregnancy continues. For example, because of the risk of injury caused by falling off, you should only continue horse riding in pregnancy if you are a professional or an expert. Horse riding is also a jerky, bouncy activity that can put a lot of strain on the ligaments that support the womb.

Sports such as skiing, squash and hockey should also be avoided because of the risk of injuries and shocks. This can increase your risk of miscarriage even if you're otherwise fit and healthy.
If you do decide to exercise during your pregnancy, symptoms that may indicate possible complications with your pregnancy include:
• dizziness or headaches,
• chest pains or heart palpitations (when you notice an irregular heartbeat),
• severe or rapid swelling or your hands, feet or face,
• vaginal pains, bleeding, or contractions, or
• having difficulty walking.
If you experience any of the above symptoms stop exercising and see your GP or midwife immediately.
Exercise and activities recommended during your pregnancy include, walking, swimming, and yoga.

What activities should I avoid?

If you're enjoying a normal, healthy pregnancy, it's a good idea to carry on doing some exercise, providing that you're not undertaking a strenuous new regime. However, you should check with your GP, or midwife, that exercising won't pose a risk for your specific medical situation.

Cycling is a good activity to do while pregnant, but it isn't usually recommended after the second trimester of pregnancy (after 26 weeks) due to the risk of falls. However, you can use an exercise bike for as long as you like.

Avoid dangerous and strenuous activitiesThere are certain activities that aren't recommended for pregnant women. For example, you should avoid activities that involve high altitudes, such as mountaineering, or hot air ballooning, because the change in oxygen levels may trigger premature labour.

You should also avoid activities where there is a risk of hard falls, or where you might be thrown off balance, such as horse riding, gymnastics, or water skiing. Strenuous activities, or those that involve a decrease in your oxygen levels, such as hiking, scuba diving, or alpine skiing, are also best avoided while pregnant.

Extreme sports, such as hang-gliding, skydiving, and bungee jumping should also be avoided because they may pose a health risk to you and your baby.

Fairground rides, such as roller coasters, can be dangerous if you're pregnant because the rapid stops and starts may cause damage to your womb (uterus). Most rides at theme parks and funfairs have signs that advise pregnant women not to go on them.

Working and work hazardsIf you work in an environment that exposes you to chemicals, radiation, X-rays or lead you may be putting your baby at risk. The same is true if you have a job that involves a lot of heavy lifting.

If you have concerns you should discuss them with your GP, midwife, occupational health nurse, union representative or Human Resources department.

If your work involves a known and recognised risk it may be illegal for you continue, and your employer must offer you suitable alternative work on terms and conditions that are not substantially less favourable than your original job. If no safe alternative is available, your employer should suspend you on full pay for as long as necessary to avoid any risk.

If you are working during pregnancy you may find that you get very tired during the first and last weeks of pregnancy. Try to use any break to rest, relax and eat.

If you are currently working a '9-5' schedule it may be a good idea to ask your employer to modify your hours so you do not have to travel during the rush hour, which can prove stressful and tiring for some women.

Some women are worried that exposure to VDUs (Visual Display Units on computers) may affect their baby. The latest research shows no evidence of any risk.

DrivingThere are no reasons why you cannot continue to drive for most of your pregnancy. However, you should take rest breaks every 90 minutes as this will prevent your ankles or legs swelling and cramping.

When driving, you should always wear a seatbelt with the diagonal strap across your body between your breasts and the lap belt over your upper thighs. The straps should lie above and below your 'bump', not over it.

Airbags should be safe as long as you are wearing a seatbelt. Safety experts recommend that you should move your seat as far away from the steering wheel as possible as this will allow room for the airbag to inflate correctly.

You should make sure that you are prepared for a possible breakdown. Keep a supply of food, water, blankets, warm clothes and a torch in a car. Carry a mobile phone with you at all time if possible. If you are not already a member, you should consider joining a car breakdown recovery service.





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Tuesday, June 3rd 2008, 10:12am

What food should I eat?

If you're pregnant, it's important you eat a well-balanced and nutritious diet, to help make sure your baby gets all the nutrients it needs to grow. Eating a well-balanced diet will help you to stay healthy too.

There are some foods you should avoid during pregnancy, such as soft cheeses, pate, and raw, or partially cooked eggs

Fruit and vegetables
You should eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day. They can be fresh, frozen, tinned or dried. A glass of pure fruit juice also counts towards one of your portions (although no matter how much juice you drink, it only counts as one portion).

Make sure that you wash all fruit and vegetables before you eat them.

Starchy foods You need to include plenty of starchy foods in your diet. Starchy foods include:

• bread,
• potatoes,
• pasta, and rice.

If possible, try and eat wholegrain options as they contain more nutrients.

Foods rich in protein

Protein is an important part of your diet, especially when you are pregnant. Protein-rich foods include:

• lean meats,
• chicken,
• eggs, and pulses (such as lentils and beans).

You should also aim to eat at least two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily fish. All of these protein-rich foods are also high in iron, another nutrient which will help keep your baby healthy.

However, it's important to remember that there are some types of fish you should avoid eating whilst you're pregnant.

Avoid eating shark, swordfish or marlin, as they contain high levels of mercury, which can harm your baby's developing nervous system. You should also limit the amount of tuna you eat, as this can also be high in mercury. Don't eat more than one tuna steak, or four medium sized tins (about 140g a tin) of tuna a week. You should also avoid raw shellfish.

For more guidance on which fish to avoid eating, see 'what foods should I avoid during pregnancy'

Fibre Constipation during pregnancy is common, so include plenty of fibre in your diet to help prevent it. Foods that are high in fibre include:

• wholegrain bread,
• pasta,
• rice,
• pulses, and
• fruit and vegetables.

Dairy foods

Foods such as cheese, yoghurt and milk are all rich in calcium. Your body needs more calcium during pregnancy, especially during the last 10 weeks, when it's used to help strengthen your baby's bones.

Although you need to avoid some dairy products, such as soft or blue-veined cheeses, and unpasteurised goat's milk or goat's cheese, there are lots of dairy products which are safe to eat. These include:

• live or bio yoghurt,
• probiotic drinks,
• fromage frais,
• creme fraiche,
• soured cream,
• hard cheeses (such as cheddar and parmesan),
• feta,
• ricotta,
• mascarpone,
• cream cheese,
• mozzarella,
• cottage cheese, and
• processed cheese (such as cheese spreads).

You can also eat other dairy foods, such as mayonnaise, ice cream and salad dressing, but you need to make sure they haven't been made using raw egg.

Folic acid

Pregnant women should take a daily 400mcg supplement of folic acid every day. Ideally you should begin taking this from the time you start trying for a baby, until your 12th week of pregnancy.

As well as taking a folic acid supplement, you should also make sure you eat foods that contain folate (the natural form of folic acid). Foods that are high in folate include:

• green vegetables,
• brown rice, and
• fortified bread and cereals.

Folic acid reduces the risk of your baby developing a neural tube defect (a condition which affects the development of your baby's spinal cord and brain). One of the most common neural tube defects is spina bifida (a condition which causes the spine to develop abnormally).


During pregnancy, your body needs more iron than normal to help ensure your baby has an adequate blood supply. To help make sure your body has enough iron, you should eat plenty of iron-rich foods, such as:

• red meat,
• pulses,
• bread,
• green vegetables, and
• fortified breakfast cereals.

Pregnant women who can't get enough iron from their diet may have to be prescribed an iron supplement.

Vitamin D During pregnancy, you should take a 10mcg supplement of Vitamin D every day. Vitamin D helps to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in your body - two substances which are needed to keep bones and teeth healthy.

Vitamin D can be found in a small number of foods, such as oily fish, and eggs, but most of vitamin D intake comes from sunlight. However, when you're out in the sun, you should always make sure you keep your skin adequately protected.

Which foods should I avoid during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, it's important to eat a well-balanced and nutritious diet, in order to provide your baby with the nutrients it needs to grow. Your diet should also give you energy for the changes taking place in your body.

However, there are certain foods you shouldn't eat whilst pregnant to avoid exposing yourself to the risk of food poisoning, or because they can be potentially dangerous to your unborn baby.


Listeriosis is a rare, flu-like illness, which can be contracted from food that contains listeria bacteria. Although rare in the UK, listeriosis can cause stillbirth, miscarriage, or severe illness in newborn babies.

You should avoid foods where high levels of listeria are occasionally found. These foods may include:

• soft and blue-veined cheese, such as Camembert, Brie and Stilton. (There is no risk of listeria associated with hard cheese such as cheddar, cottage cheese or processed cheese),
• pâté (any type, including vegetable),
• certain prepared salads such as potato salad and coleslaw, and
ready-prepared meals or re-heated food, unless they are piping hot all the way through.


Salmonella is a bacteria that causes a type of food poisoning. Salmonella is found in unpasteurised milk, raw eggs and raw egg products, raw poultry and raw meat. Although salmonella food poisoning is unlikely to harm your baby, it is advisable to take precautions to avoid foods that may contain salmonella.

The steps outlined below will reduce your risk of getting salmonella.

• Avoid food containing raw or partially cooked eggs, such as homemade mayonnaise, and some mousses and sauces. You should only eat eggs if they are cooked until both the white and the yolk are solid.
• Avoid unpasteurised dairy products.
• Cook all meat and poultry thoroughly, and take particular care with products made from minced meat, such as sausages and burgers. Make sure these are cooked until they are piping hot all the way through and no pink meat is left.
• Take particular care with meat at barbeques, parties and buffets. Bacteria breed quickly on food that is left uncovered in a warm environment.
• Make sure that raw meat does not come into contact with other food (for example in the fridge), particularly food that is already cooked or that will be eaten raw.
• Always wash your hands after handling raw meat.


Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a parasite found in cat faeces. It can also be present in raw or undercooked meat, and in soil left on unwashed fruit and vegetables. Although rare, the infection can occasionally be passed to the unborn baby, which can cause serious problems.

To reduce the risk of toxoplasmosis, you should avoid the following foods:

• unwashed raw fruit and vegetables,
• raw or undercooked meat, and
• unpasteurised goats' milk or goats' cheese.
• To avoid contact with soil or faeces that might contain the toxoplasmosis parasite, it's important to wear gloves if you are gardening or changing a cat litter tray. If possible, ask someone else to do it for you.

Vitamin A

If you're pregnant you should make sure you don't have too much vitamin A. Although you need some vitamin A in your diet, having too much could mean that levels build up in your body and harm your unborn baby.

Eating a normal, well-balanced diet should give you all the vitamin A your body needs. Avoid liver or liver products such as pâté, as liver contains high levels of vitamin A. You should also check with your doctor before taking any high-dose multivitamins or cod liver oil supplements, as these may also contain vitamin A.


Oily fish is good for your health, but you need to limit the amount that you eat because it contains pollutants, such as dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

If you're pregnant, you should eat no more than two portions of oily fish a week. Oily fish includes fresh tuna (not canned tuna, which doesn't count as oily fish), mackerel, sardines and trout.

There are a few types of fish that you should avoid eating while pregnant, and some others that you should limit the amount you eat.

Limit the amount of tuna you eat because it contains a high level of mercury which can have a damaging effect on your baby's developing nervous system. You shouldn't eat more than one tuna steak, or four medium-sized tins (about 140g per can) of tuna a week. This works out at about six rounds of tuna sandwiches or three tuna salads.

Avoid eating shark, swordfish and marlin as these fish also contain a high level of mercury. You should also avoid eating raw shellfish when you're pregnant. This will reduce your chances of getting food poisoning which can be particularly unpleasant when you're pregnant.


The Department of Health advises that pregnant women, and women who are trying to conceive, should avoid drinking alcohol and should not get drunk. Heavy drinking, during pregnancy, is associated with low birth weight, and other, more serious birth defects.

However, if you do decide to drink alcohol while you are pregnant, you should limit the amount that you drink. The Department of Health and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists advise that pregnant women should not drink more than 1-2 units of alcohol once or twice a week. Binge drinking (drinking several units of alcohol in one session) should be avoided.


You should limit the amount of caffeine you have each day. Caffeine affects the way your body absorbs iron, which is very important for your baby's development. High levels of caffeine can result in a baby having a low birth weight, or even miscarriage.

Caffeine occurs naturally in a range of foods, such as coffee, tea and chocolate, and it's also added to some soft drinks and 'energy' drinks. It's important not to have more than 300mg of caffeine a day. 300mg is roughly equivalent to either:

• three mugs of instant coffee,
• three cups of brewed coffee,
• six cups of tea,
• eight cans of regular cola, or
• eight standard bars of chocolate.


the bottom line on what you can and can't eat