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Your health in pregnancy

For your own health and your baby’s, it is important to look after yourself during pregnancy. Healthy eating, plenty of rest, and regular gentle exercise will all benefit yourself and your baby.

Folic acid and vitamin D

Folic acid reduces the risk of your baby being born with a neural tube defect, a condition that can have a serious effect on your baby’s development and well-being.

Ideally you should start taking a folic acid supplement before conception, but even if you didn’t do so, it is worth starting as soon as you find out you are pregnant and continuing to take folic acid until you are 12 weeks pregnant. You can buy folic acid supplements at your local chemist or pharmacy.


Foods to avoid

During pregnancy, please avoid eating the following foods which contain substances or can carry infections that may be dangerous to you or your baby:

  • raw or partially cooked eggs
  • raw or partially cooked meat
  • unwashed fruit or vegetables
  • liver (including liver pate)
  • vitamin supplements containing vitamin A.



Weight gain

It is normal to put on weight during pregnancy as your baby grows, but eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables will help you to avoid gaining unnecessary pounds.

If you already have a raised BMI (body mass index) and are pregnant, you are at increased risk of emergency caesarean section in labour, increased risk of needing to be induced, increased risk of post-partum haemorrhage, and numerous other problems.

You may be advised to attempt to not put on any weight during the pregnancy by eating healthily. If you have a significantly raised BMI (greater than 35) you will be given an appointment with a consultant obstetrician to devise a pregnancy plan.


More information

For more detailed advice on how to keep healthy in pregnancy, please consult the NHS Choices pregnancy planner

You can also find useful information in the Department of Health’s Pregnancy Book