Q&A with Tommy's, the baby charity

Q&A with Tommy’s baby charity

Our official charity partner is Tommy’s, the charity that helps save babies’ lives by supporting parents to have a healthy pregnancy. The midwives at Tommy’s PregnancyLine received over 4,000 calls and emails last year. Midwife manager Emma-Lees Laing shares some of the most frequently asked questions.

Emma-Laing

I’m feeling anxious and down. Is this normal?

There’s a lot of pressure to have the ‘perfect’ pregnancy and to be ‘blooming’ all the way through. Unfortunately, life’s problems don’t go away just because you’re pregnant, and the usual stressors – work, money, relationships – can feel even bigger with a baby on the way. It’s normal to feel worried from time to time about your pregnancy and what will change when the baby comes.

However If you feel that your low moods or anxiety are impacting on your everyday routine it is important to speak to someone about how you are feeling. These could be signs that you’re experiencing anxiety or depression in your pregnancy and you should seek help for the health of you and your baby. Physical exercise, sharing your feelings with a trusted person or midwife, and practising relaxation techniques can all help.

How much exercise can I do?

Staying fit is beneficial to both you and the baby, but there are a lot of false rumours about what you can and can’t do. The truth is that for the majority of women, being fit and strong will help to ease tiredness and aches and pains, and help you during labour. If you’re not used to exercise, it’s fine to start in pregnancy. Begin with walking 20 minutes a day three times a week, gradually increasing the length of your walks and your speed so you are doing a brisk walk regularly.

How do I get the right care for me?

Navigating the NHS can be difficult. If you’ve had a previous pregnancy complication it’s understandable that you’ll be more anxious. Get in touch with Tommy’s and we can talk you through what treatment to expect and what questions to ask.

What should I be eating?

A well-balanced diet is the best way of ensuring your baby gets all the nutrients they need. Aim to eat at least five portions of different fruit and vegetables a day – fresh, frozen, tinned and juice all count – for essential vitamins and minerals. Meat, fish, eggs and beans are a great source of protein, vital for the growth of your baby as it helps build new tissue for bones, muscles and organs. Folic acid is particularly important in early pregnancy – your midwife should be able to advise you on supplements. For more advice read Top tips for healthy eating in pregnancy.

What’s the best way to manage your weight in pregnancy?

As good as it may sound, it’s a myth that you need to eat for two. In reality, it’s only in the third trimester that you need to increase your calorie intake slightly. This shouldn’t be by more than 200 calories (the equivalent of a slice of toast) per day. It’s not advisable to diet in pregnancy, focus instead on eating healthily and being active. By doing this, you should not gain too much weight, which means it will be easier to return to your usual weight after birth.. If you are very overweight when you find out you’re pregnant, your aim is to not put any more weight on as your pregnancy progresses. Your midwife or GP should be able to advise you on healthy eating and gentle exercise to help you maintain your weight.

What supplements should I take during pregnancy?

Taking 400mcg of folic acid for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy can help the development of your baby’s spine and central nervous system. You’ll also be radically reducing the chance of your baby getting spina bifidia. Eating oily fish twice a week will aid the development of your baby’s brain and eyes, however If you don’t like fish, you could take an Omega-3 supplement. Look for one that is specifically for use in pregnancy and does not contain vitamin A. It’s also advised that you take 10mcg of vitamin D a day to make sure your baby has strong bones and teeth. On the upside, regular sunshine can also help with your body’s natural vitamin D production! For more advice read Supplements during pregnancy: 7 must-read tips and

Is it okay to drink alcohol in pregnancy?

It seems like there’s a new study out every week about drinking alcohol in pregnancy, each contradicting the last. What we do know is that alcohol consumption can disrupt a baby’s development in the womb, making them more susceptible to illness throughout their lives and impairing their learning abilities. It can also increase your chances of miscarriage, particularly in the first three months. Because experts are unsure about how much it’s exactly safe to drink, it’s best to err on the side of caution and cut out alcohol altogether. If you’re actively planning a pregnancy, it’s also a good idea to stop. We would always advise women to cut out alcohol.

If you make the personal choice to carry on drinking, cut out alcohol entirely for the first 12 weeks, and after that do your research – guidelines suggest no more than one or two units a week, which might be one glass of one drink and half a glass of another.

Whatever your pregnancy query, Tommy’s midwives are here to help make the journey as smooth as possible. The PregnancyLine is open Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm. info@tommys.org/ 0800 0147 800

To see how Kiddicare and Tommy’s are working together click here.