Taking care of yourself and your baby during pregnancy

Taking care of yourself and your baby is really important during pregnancy and our specialist midwives are on hand to provide you with advice, information and support to stay well during pregnancy. 

Preparing for the birth of your baby 

You can stay healthy and prepare for the birth of your child by: 

  • Eat a balanced diet and try to keep a healthy weight – eating a balanced diet and taking regular exercise can help you stay a healthy weight. If you're overweight, you may have problems getting pregnant and fertility treatment is less likely to work.
  • Stop smoking – stopping smoking is good for both you and your baby and it reduces the likelihood of any complications during your pregnancy. NHS Smokefree can offer you advice, support and help to quit smoking.
  • Cut out alcohol – the advice is to cut out alcohol if you’re trying to get pregnant or are pregnant. Alcohol can be passed onto your unborn baby and cause long-term harm.
  • Take a folic acid supplement - It's recommended that you should take a daily supplement of folic acid when you're pregnant, or there's a chance you might get pregnant. You should take a 400 microgram supplement of folic acid every day before you get pregnant, and every day afterwards, up until you're 12 weeks pregnant. Folic acid reduces the risk of your baby having a neural tube defect, such as spina bifida.
  • Check whether the medicines you take are safe to take during pregnancy - Not all medicines are safe to take when you're pregnant or planning a pregnancy, whether they're on prescription or medicines you can buy in a pharmacy or shop. Check with your GP before you take or stop any medications.
  • Vaccinations – Check that you’re up to date with any relevant vaccinations. Some infections like rubella (German Measles) can cause harm to your unborn baby.
  • Speak to your GP about any long-term conditions – If you have any long-term conditions e.g. diabetes or epilepsy, it’s worth speaking to your GP about the effect that getting pregnant may have and the choices you make around your pregnancy and medication.

Our midwives can offer you advice on things like drinking alcohol or stopping smoking during pregnancy. 

Specialist Midwife Support

Our Specialist Midwives and ROMES team can provide support alcohol or substance misuse support for mums during and after their pregnancy. Speak to your GP, midwife or social worker and they can refer you onto our Specialist Midwife for support.

Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) – Drinking alcohol during pregnancy

Alcohol – Drinking alcohol during pregnancy

The Chief Medical Officers for the UK recommend that if you're pregnant or planning to become pregnant, the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all to keep risks to your baby to a minimum. Drinking in pregnancy can lead to long-term harm to the baby, with the more you drink, the greater the risk.

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and your baby having a low birthweight. It can also affect your baby after they're born.

Drinking during pregnancy can cause your baby to develop a serious condition called foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).

FASD can cause problems with:

  • learning and behaviour
  • joints, bones, muscles and some organs
  • managing emotions and developing social skills
  • hyperactivity and impulse control
  • communication, such as problems with speech

The risk is likely to be greater the more you drink.

Specialist Midwife Support

Our Specialist Midwives and ROMES team can provide support alcohol or substance misuse support for mums during and after their pregnancy. Speak to your GP, midwife or social worker and they can refer you onto our Specialist Midwife for support.

Alcohol support services

If you have difficulty cutting down what you drink, talk to a midwife, doctor or pharmacist. Confidential help and support is also available from local counselling services:

Drinkline – the national alcohol helpline; if you're worried about your own or someone else's drinking, call this free helpline on 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am to 8pm, weekends 11am to 4pm)

We Are With You – a UK-wide treatment agency that helps individuals, families and communities manage the effects of alcohol and drug misuse

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) – a free self-help group; its "12-step" programme involves getting sober with the help of regular support groups.

Smoking during pregnancy

Quitting smoking during your pregnancy is one of the best things you can do to protect you and your baby. Every cigarette you smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, so smoking when you are pregnant harms your unborn baby. Cigarettes can restrict the essential oxygen supply to your baby.

Benefits of quitting smoking during pregnancy

Stopping smoking has immediate benefits for both you and your baby. When you stop smoking, you will reduce the risk of complications in pregnancy and birth, you are more likely to have a healthy pregnancy and baby and you reduce the risk of stillbirth. Evidence also suggests that babies are less likely to be born prematurely or be born with a low birth weight if you quit smoking. Stopping smoking also reduces the likelihood of your child suffering from asthma or other serious illnesses later in life. The sooner you stop smoking, the better. But even if you stop in the last few weeks of your pregnancy this will benefit you and your baby.

Support to give up smoking

Before you give up smoking, speak to your GP, midwife, pharmacist or specialist stop smoking advisor who will be able to advise you. Your GP may be able to prescribe you medication to help reduce your cravings.

Alternatively, you can call the NHS Smokefree helpline on 0300 123 1044 from 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday, and 11am to 4pm Saturday and Sunday.

NHS Stop Smoking services can offer 1-to-1 or group sessions with trained stop smoking advisers and may have a pregnancy stop smoking specialist. They can also offer advice about dealing with stress, weight gain and support the use of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) such as patches or gum, if appropriate, to help you manage your cravings.

Find out more about the effects of smoking in pregnancy, and getting support to quit at Start4Life.

CURE Tobacco Addiction Service

If you are a smoker when you come into hospital to give birth, our specialist CURE Tobacco Addiction Service can provide in-patient support to help you quit smoking and they can refer you for follow on support via your community pharmacist when you leave hospital. You can find out more about our CURE team on our website.

Useful Contacts

Your Health Oldham - https://www.yourhealtholdham.co.uk/how-we-can-help-you/smoking-cessation/ - To start your stop smoking journey contact Your Health Oldham on: 0161 9600255 or Text “Oldham” to 62277 for FREE and we will call you back.

Living Well Rochdale - https://www.livingwellrochdale.com/service/stop-smoking/

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