Please welcome Dr Winstanley! Our resident advisor for the duration of this blog, Claire Winstanley is a family GP based in Bristol,has an interest in chinese medicine and currently has a baby care book selling well in the parent self-help charts. Throughout the next weeks and months we will be receiving the hot tips, advice and answers to some pressing questions and issues relating to all things baby!
On occasion I will be undertaking Questions and Answers sessions for brainstorming on pressing issues throughout the pregnancy. Please feel free to comment or join in at any point!
Over to Claire Winstanley……….
Dr Winstanley says:
How exciting and suddenly so much to think about! Hopefully this pregnancy was planned so you were already taking folic acid. You just need the 400mcg tablet once a day unless you are advised otherwise. Ideally you take the folic acid before the baby is conceived and then until 12 weeks pregnant. It is recommended to help the baby’s spine develop. If the pregnancy is not planned just take it as soon as you find out you are pregnant.
Then there is the list of foods to eat and what not to eat. So here is mine :
Cheese – make sure it is pasteurised – most cheeses even soft cheeses can be found pasteurised in supermarkets now. This is all about listeriosis which grows in soft/mould-ripened cheeses which causes miscarriages. Soft goats cheese is a no unless really cooked thoroughly, sheep’s cheese such as feta and hallumi are fine.
Meat – must be cooked thoroughly – watch out for pate. ‘Cold’ meats are fine if bought packaged in the supermarket but not recommended when abroad and fresh. Liver is not recommended as it contains high vitamin A which can harm your baby.
Vitamin A – take pregnancy multivitamins only as most other mulitvitamins contain vitamin A which can also harm your baby – and turn their teeth yellow ! Also fish oil supplements contain a lot of vitamin A.
Vitamin D – the new vitamin we are all taking about! With the last 12 months of English weather we are all probably deficient!! It is particularly needed when pregnant and breastfeeding both for your bones and teeth and your baby’s so it is recommended to take a supplement daily. Vitamin D is mainly made from the sun – just 10 minutes a day outside can be enough. Darker skin or those of you always covered up are particularly at risk of low vitamin D. It is also found in oily fish – mackerel, salmon, sardines, also eggs, full fat diary, mushrooms. It is fat soluble so you need fats in your diet to absorb it. It is also added to some breakfast cereal and other foods.
Fish – it is all about consuming too much heavy metals, pollutants and salmonella/food poisoning. So 2 times a week maximum to eat tuna or other oily fish and avoid shark – which is very easy in the UK! White fish is generally a better choice when pregnant. Also you are advised to avoid fresh shellfish – they can be high risk for food poisoning and they also live on the sea floor so can be higher in heavy metals. However a few supermarket prawns cooked well will not do you or your baby any harm.
Eggs – this is all about salmonella again – just make sure you cook your eggs until solid, watch out for chocolate mousse!
Peanuts – the advice keeps changing! At the moment there is no link between eating peanuts and your baby getting a peanut allergy although I would recommend eating peanuts in moderation. To eat them every day would not be wise but occasionally they are there to enjoy.
Alcohol – there is more and more evidence that the less you drink the better it is for your baby. 1-2 glasses a week when pregnant is probably about the maximum. Alcohol can seriously affect your baby’s brain and development. There is nothing you can do for having had too much alcohol before you know you are pregnant but once you know just look after your baby as best as possible.
Caffeine – 1-2 cups of either tea or coffee a day but not much more. I think you should avoid the soft carbonated drinks when pregnancy as they contain a lot of sugar/fake sugar and often caffeine and there is nothing of any benefit or nourishment to your baby in these drinks if anything it puts your body under more stress especially your pancreas with diabetes.
Sugar – a little is good for you a lot is not! When pregnant you are not able to deal with sugars as well as when you are not pregnant so you really need to eat less. Take it seriously because high sugars causes BIG babies and you really don’t want to push one of those out!! Also sadly there is a bigger risk of miscarriage and other complications if you have high sugar- your midwife will be testing your urine regularly for this throughout the pregnancy.
Medicines – well paracetamol is just about the only over the counter medication you can have when pregnant. If you are on any other medication please ask your pharmacist or doctor. Hayfever is just miserable! Migraines are very difficult – fortunately most go away when pregnant. If you are on thyroid medication then speak to your GP soon.
Cravings – the Chinese have a great saying – ‘if you crave something and your cravings are satisfied after a little of what you crave then you needed it, if however you just want more and more and more then whatever you are craving is doing you harm’.
Toxoplasmosis – what is this you ask?? It is small parasite found in soil and animal litter which can harm your baby. So extra hand washing is needed and ideally to wear gloves when gardening and handling soil. Avoid the cat litter tray if possible and get someone else to do it or wear gloves. Also wash your salads, vegetables and fruit to remove the soil. It is not screened for but a blood test can be done if you are at risk to see if you are immune to it or not. It can present in many vague ways and in general is mild and self limiting but acute onset aching knees when pregnant for no other reason can be one presentation.
Other things to think about:
Exercise – do what your body lets you! Often from 5-12 weeks you are totally exhausted so do not push yourself at the gym – your body is trying to give your baby everything so rest up. You can do most sports so long as you are not exhausted after – a sign that you need to slow down a bit- it is not for long. Horse riding and skiing in particular are not recommended when pregnant due to risk of falls. I am sure there is a lot longer list of dangerous sports!! Be sensible. However to stay active and do some exercise is good for you.
Intercourse – Sex is safe in pregnancy. However you need to avoid intercourse if you have any bleeding or pains. You may find different positions more comfortable. Pregnancy can affect your libido! Talk to your partner if you emotions change and you may need to find other ways to be intimate. Sometimes a sense of humour is needed – pregnancy does not last for ever!
© DW .2013
For more information of this nature, see Dr Winstanley’s book ‘Babies All Wrapped Up’ ; available on Amazon or visit