Top 10 tips for a healthy pregnancy

If you're pregnant, being healthy is now more important than ever. What's more, there are some really simple things you can do to ensure your unborn baby is getting the best possible start. Of course, before we start, it goes without saying that you've quit smoking...

Tips for a healthy pregnancy

1. Eat well

You don't necessarily need to eat more when you're pregnant but it is important to eat more healthily. Aim to eat a balanced diet of vegetables, fruit, some (preferably wholegrain) carbohydrates, some protein - which might be fish, meat, eggs, nuts, or pulses - and some milk and dairy products every day.

2. Eat safely

You need to take the utmost care with food preparation. Pregnancy can make you relatively 'immunosuppressed' which means minor infections can be more severe so cook all meat thoroughly and wash all fruit and vegetables before eating. You don't want to be infected with toxoplasmosis - an organism which can affect your baby. Toxoplasmosis is found in cat faeces so if you have a cat, avoid emptying the litter tray and always wear gloves when gardening.

3. Avoid certain foods

Certain foods should be completely avoided while you're pregnant. This means: · No mould-ripened or unpasteurised cheeses - all might carry listeria which increases the risk of miscarriage. · No raw or undercooked meats - this includes shellfish, sushi and rare steak. Again there is a risk of listeria. · No raw or lightly cooked eggs. They can contain salmonella so only eat them hard-boiled. Be wary of mayonnaise and mousse desserts too. · No liver or pâté. They contain high levels of vitamin A which can be harmful to your baby. · No shark, swordfish or marlin as they may contain potentially unsafe levels of naturally occurring mercury.

4. Get your daily folic acid

Folic acid, also called folate, is a B vitamin which has been shown to reduce the risk of your baby developing defects like spina bifida. It can be found in a number of foods such as dark green veg, oranges, cereals, beans and pulses, milk and malt extracts. You can't get the recommended amount of folic acid from diet alone so the current advice is to take a 400 microgram folic acid supplement until at least the 12th week of pregnancy.