Knowing that a new addition will soon be arriving into the family is an exciting, and perhaps scary, prospect. If this is your first child then you’ll probably have more questions and doubts. If you’ve already had children, it is a good idea to refresh your knowledge on what to do when expecting a baby here.
Planning your pregnancy
Conception generally occurs two weeks before your period is due. Because it is difficult to detect exactly when you are pregnant, it’s best to act as if you are pregnant to make sure you are in the best of health and that your baby will be too. Your baby is at its most sensitive in the first eight weeks of pregnancy because this is when his or her features and organs are being formed. It’s important to be as careful as possible with what you eat, drink, where you go and what you do while you’re pregnant.
Click here to read more about planning a pregnancy.
Nutrition in pregnancy
When you’re pregnant, taking care of your health is naturally as important for you as it is for your unborn baby.
Here are some helpful tips to follow before and while you’re trying to get pregnant:
Visit your doctor for regular check-ups
Go to the dentist to prevent any diseases or tooth decay
Make sure you’re a healthy weight, eat healthily and exercise regularly
If you smoke, quit!
What to eat
It’s a good idea to plan your meals to make sure you are getting all the nutrients you need. It’s best to have small but regular meals during the day. This helps curb morning sickness, as does avoiding spicy and fried foods and fluids with meals, eating carbs like bread as soon as you wake up and avoiding lying down right after you’ve eaten.
Eating healthily means including a wide variety of foods from the four major food groups:
Breads, cereals, rice and pasta
Fruits and vegetables
Milk and milk products
Fish, meat, chicken and eggs
Also make you sure you are getting enough of these:
Calcium: this is needed for the formation of bones and teeth. Sources of Calcium include dairy products like cheese and milk.
Vitamin D: this helps calcium to be absorbed. It can be obtained directly from the sun or from margarine and oily fish, for example.
Iron: this is needed for the red cells in our blood. You need more blood for your baby. Sources include lean meat, iron fortified cereal and vegetables.
Vitamin C: this helps iron to be absorbed. Eat citrus fruits, green leafy veg, potatoes, tomatoes and strawberries.
Folic Acid: this guards against anaemia. Eat spinach, Brussels sprouts and broccoli; yeast, potatoes with their skin on and wholemeal bread.
Water: drink at least 6-8 glasses a day to prevent dehydration, urinary infections and constipation.
For more detailed information on what you should and should not eat during pregnancy, click here.
Illness and Issues
Although you will probably have had regular check-ups with your doctor, it is naturally sometimes inevitable that you get sick while pregnant.
Of course, not all infectious illnesses are dangerous for pregnancy but always consult your doctor if you are feeling slightly under the weather.
Below is a list of infectious illnesses which you need to keep an eye on during pregnancy:
Rubella: this virus shows as a pinkish rash with some fever. It is more dangerous if you contract the infection during the first trimester.
Varicella: shows as a rash with little liquid-filled bumps. However, it is rare for the baby to catch it if the mother gets it while pregnant.
Fifth disease: this is quite common among children and there is a risk of miscarriage if you contract Fifth disease, so do your utmost to avoid children who have been infected.
Tuberculosis: this is common but doesn’t harm the fetus.
Hepatitis: There are several types of hepatitis, generally due to a virus that attacks the liver. Although it may be transmitted to the baby during pregnancy and after birth, it may be successfully treated.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Some STDS, like HIV, chlamydia, or gonorrhea may be passed on to the baby during delivery, so tests are done before delivery to treat them if needs be.
Alcohol and Drugs
Avoid alcohol and illegal drugs during pregnancy, as it is risky for both mother and baby. Even mild drinking can harm your child resulting in intellectual and physical disabilities. It also increases the risk of miscarriage and premature birth, as does taking cocaine. Babies exposed to illegal drugs have a higher chance of having learning or behavioural problems.
Top Baby Names
Luke, Elena, Julia, Matthew? Picking a name for your baby is great fun but which name to choose? As unlikely as this may be, you may be short for names. Here’s a list of the most popular baby names in Malta in 2013.
Learn more about what to do during early pregnancy and childbirth at well-organised courses by Parentcraft Services – a dynamic service of the Maternity Department at Mater Dei Hospital. These courses cover breastfeeding, diet and healthcare, to name a few.
Call the helpline 2545 5124 to ask for informationg if you have any problems during or after pregnancy, or click here for more information.