Refer to this leaflet for information on how to stay active and keep healthy during pregnancy.
This leaflet contains all the information you need if you’re considering having a Caesarean section for birth.
This leaflet contains helpful advice and support for those dependent on drugs or alcohol and are pregnant.
This leaflet is full of information and advice should your baby be diagnosed with dilated renal pelvis on ultrasound scan.
Helpful tips and advice for stopping smoking
Everything you need to know about intravenous iron therapy (Ferinject).
This leaflet is full of helpful advice about attending the maternity assessment units at both North Tees and Hartlepool hospital sites.
This leaflet is full of information and advice for those who have been diagnosed with mild hypertension in pregnancy.
Everything you need to know about Chest X-rays and lung scans during pregnancy.
Helpful advice about pelvic floor exercises
Everything you need to know about syphilis during pregnancy
When you’re pregnant, you have lots of questions. The NHS week-by-week pregnancy guide is packed with lots of useful information.
From what’s happening inside your body, to how your baby is developing, and tips and advice on having a healthy pregnancy – this is your one-stop pregnancy guide.
Give your child the best beginning with Baby Buddy!
Developed by UK charity Best Beginnings in collaboration with parents, healthcare professionals and partner charities across the country: the free Baby Buddy app is with you throughout your pregnancy and parenting journey, day by day.
The National Childbirth Trust is available to support you and your unique experience of pregnancy, birth, and early parenthood.
Their vision is that everyone who becomes a parent feels confident, connected, and safe.
Trust video: Bonding with your Baby
Debbie explains how to actively bond with your baby, even before they are born and explains why it is important.
Bonding with your baby
Hello my name’s Debbie and i’m going to talk about bonding with your baby.
So it’s really important to bond with your unborn baby, it helps to release hormones and chemicals in the brain, that really encourage brain development. Which are really, really important for developing that relationship with your baby and your baby’s development of their actual body and it’s just the start of the process.
So it helps them develop a sense of who they are as well, and it helps them deal with their emotions in their early weeks in life, and throughout the rest of their life.
So you can start on with your baby before your baby’s even born, pregnancy is a perfect time to start forming that relationship with your baby and building an attachment. So it’s important to give their brain development and immediately once your baby arrives.
So from about 18 weeks of pregnancy, your baby can hear sounds inside your body, so can hear your tummy rumbling, can hear your voice, can hear your heart beating. By 26 weeks, they can hear sounds outside of your body and they may even be startled or even cry at noises outside of your body.
They can hear about half of the sound that you can hear. So baby can see in between light and dark around about 22 weeks, so if you’re under your duvet, all nice and dark, baby will be able to know that. If you’re outside with light clothes on and bright sunshine your baby can know that too. And if you shine a torch on your bump your baby might actually respond, so you can respond again to that by rubbing your tummy and interacting with your baby that way.
So for some women, they can start bonding with their unborn baby as soon they find out they are pregnant. Or it may start in the early weeks and months of your baby’s life. Some women worry that they don’t have that immediate gush of love once the baby is born, but that’s okay, that’s normal.
That will come so, it’s quite instinctive to touch your bump, often during your pregnancy and that’s a good way to build up your relationship, and then you can build up on that even further by massaging your tummy. You can involve others, so you can involve partner, you can involve other siblings and other family members who are key people in your baby’s life.
So you can talk to your talk to your baby, your baby will recognise your voice. It will recognise the voice of other people in your life, so siblings, partners, so again that’s another way to help other people bond with your baby as well.
So they can also respond to your baby’s kicks by touching your bump, you can play music to your baby, you can read to your baby, your baby will get familiar with music that you play a lot, so I always think it’s quite nice to to have some music to listen to in labor, that you’ve listened to during pregnancy, and that you know it’s familiar to your baby and again increases that attachment and makes baby feel safe.
You can also use that music after baby’s born for the same reasons, you can read to your baby during your pregnancy, you can read to toddlers. So you can share that experience together and again once baby’s here you can share that experience together, so baby will get familiar with if you watch programs regularly, baby will get used to those theme tunes and be soothed by them when it recognizes them when it’s born.
So some women find it helpful to keep a journal or diary of their pregnancy. And of their journey in the early weeks and months of their baby’s life. Then they can look back on that and that again increases the attachment to your baby. Things like attending new ultrasound scans, hearing babies heartbeat – partner can come to those ordinarily – and you know that increases the attachment as well.
Babies do experience stress, if mum is stressed so take time to relax and enjoy some time with your baby.
So at birth your skin to skin is really important for building up on that attachment and skin to skin contact for at least an hour, releases hormones called oxytocin and that’s known as the mothering hormone or the maternal hormone, and again baby can hear your voice, hear if your heart is beating, hear your tummy rumbling and it’s just really reassured just to complete that journey um of your attachment of your newborn and to continue for the future years.
So if you’re well attached to your unborn baby and your new baby we know that you’re more likely to be what’s called a responsive parent. So not just meeting your baby’s basic needs, providing food, shelter, clothing, warmth, but also providing love and adapting to their changing needs and being more responsive to their changing needs.
NHS: Where does my pregnancy weight come from?
A useful video from the NHS regarding your weight in pregnancy
Gaining weight in your pregnancy is natural, it’s nothing to worry about. Lots of bits of your body change to prepare for pregnancy and to prepare for your growing baby. Your boobs grow, your bottom grows and your fluid in your body grows, so there’s lots of things that can be attributed to getting bigger. On average, a baby at the end of pregnancy is 7 to 8 pounds – that’s 3 to 3 and a half kilos.
That’s the size of a small bag of potatoes. Your boobs, or your breasts, put on an average of a kilo each. That’s a small bag of flour for each one. The placenta on average is about as big as your hand. That weighs about 700 grams which is nearly another kilo. That’s about the size of an average box of cereal.
So if you think about your uterus or your womb, that can weigh a kilo on its own, but you put inside that a litre of fluid and that can weigh another kilo, so that’s two bags of carrots.
Towards the end of your pregnancy, your circulating volume – that’s the blood and all the other fluids that was around your body increases. That can weigh as much as a couple of bags of sugar.
Towards the end of your pregnancy, you lay down lots of fat as well. Thighs, bottom and around your waist. On average, we put on about three kilos and that’s the size of a large chicken.
These are there for a particular reason – it’s to feed your baby.
NHS: What can I do during pregnancy to make birth easier?
A useful video from the NHS with lots of hints and tips for a health pregnancy
Exercising when you’re pregnant helps you to become fitter. The fitter you are, obviously the easier labour is for you and potentially can lead to a shorter, faster labour. Towards the end of your pregnancy, the more upright you are the better. It helps gravity push the baby down into a good position.
The best position for your baby to be is laying with its head down close to your vagina, with its back towards the front of your tummy or slightly towards the left-hand side. In the last few weeks of your pregnancy, you need to help gravity get your baby in the best position so by being upright is the best way forward. Leaning against the wall, sitting on a birthing ball.
On your hands and knees is a really good position as well. The best thing for birth is being in your optimum health. Lots of green vegetables, breads, milk. Cereal products are great because they are all fortified with irons and folic acids which put you in the best state of health. Exercising in your pregnancy should be something that you enjoy and is appropriate for the stage of pregnancy that you’re at.
Labour’s a long, hard journey and the more prepared you are, the easier it’s going to be. Exercise and the healthy eating will push you in the right direction for a nice quick labour and a lovely, healthy baby at the end of it.
NHS: What should I do if I start bleeding during early pregnancy?
Expert advice around bleeding during early pregnancy
Some women experience a small amount of bleeding usually around about the time that they’d normally have a period and this is common in pregnancy. You can also experience the same kind of heavy feeling that you feel just before a period occurs and that’s normal as well.
It’s nothing to be worried about if you have light bleeding or spotting as it’s due to the changes in your body, the baby is almost always going to be absolutely fine. It is important if you get any bleeding especially if you’ve got any stomach aches and cramping that you go along to see your midwife or your GP to get it investigated.
Occasionally, it could be due to something more serious like a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy. Usually it’s absolutely fine when you’ve had any light bleeding early in the pregnancy but always remember to go and get it checked out either with your midwife or with your GP.
NHS: Screening tests for you and your baby
Helpful information and advice around screening tests for you and your baby
Katie is expecting a baby. During her pregnancy, she’ll be offered several screening tests, to check for health conditions that could affect her, or her baby.
Katie can choose which tests, if any, she wants. During the first 10 weeks of her pregnancy she’s offered screening for sickle cell and thalassaemia.
These are blood conditions that can be passed from parents, to their children, through their genes. The baby’s father may also be offered a test. If both parents are carriers, it doesn’t mean they have the condition, but there’s a chance that they can pass it on to their baby.
Between 8 and 12 weeks of pregnancy, a midwife offers her a blood test for three infectious diseases: HIV, Hepatitis B and syphilis. She can choose which, if any, of these to be tested for. Screening for these three infections is best done in early pregnancy, but they can be offered at any time.
If Katie has diabetes, she’ll be offered eye screening during her pregnancy. At some point between 10 and 14 weeks of pregnancy, Katie is offered the combined test.
This is an ultrasound scan and blood test, looking for down’s syndrome, edward’s syndrome and patau’s syndrome. If the combined test cannot be done, she can have the quadruple test up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. This looks for down’s syndrome only.
Between 18 and 21 weeks of her pregnancy, Katie is offered another ultrasound scan called the 20 week scan. It looks for 11 physical conditions in her baby, for example, relating to the bones, heart and brain.
Towards the end of her pregnancy, a midwife will discuss the screening offered for her newborn baby, so she knows what to expect.
Katie’s offered a physical examination for Thomas, within three days of him being born. This screens for conditions affecting his heart, eyes and hips. As he’s a boy, his testicles will be checked too. A hearing test will also be offered.
Depending where they live, this may be in the hospital, or at home. When Thomas is five days old a midwife will offer the blood spot test. Also known as the heel prick test. This involves taking a few drops of blood from the heel.
It screens for 9 rare, but serious conditions, such as cystic fibrosis.
Remember, screening is always a choice. You can decide which tests, if any, are right for you and your baby.
For more information or support, speak to a midwife or doctor.
NHS: How can I sleep comfortably with my bump
Helpful advice about how to sleep during pregnancy
As your bump gets bigger and you get further on in pregnancy it gets more and more difficult to be comfortable at night. So it’s a case of trying to find a position that’s most comfortable for you. Usually the most comfortable position is lying on your side. Maybe curled up, using pillows to support between your legs, at your back. Maybe one underneath the bump.
There’s growing evidence that lying on your left side improves the blood flow to the placenta and that means the baby gets more nutrients in that position but don’t feel that means you have to stay in that position all night and you’ll naturally be getting up at night to go to the loo, so when you come back you’ll usually find yourself going into a different position for a while.
Massage is always useful in helping to make you feel more comfortable and probably the best place would be in the lower part of your spine. If you’ve been lying on one side for any length of time and your hip feel uncomfortable, your partner could try massaging that for you.
NHS: How and when should I do pelvic floor exercises?
Lots of helpful tips on doing pelvic floor exercises
Pelvic floor exercises are really important in pregnancy and we advise that you start them as soon as you find out your pregnant. The pelvic floor muscles extend from the pubic bone at the front right the way back to the base of the spine.
Pelvic floor muscles hold the pelvic organs in place and that includes the bladder and the bodies under an awful lot of strain in pregnancy through the weight of the uterus, so it’s important you do the exercises to prevent incontinence and this can happen when you laugh, when your cough, when you sneeze, even if you’re jumping up and down on a trampoline.
You can do your pelvic floor exercised without anybody knowing by following these simple steps: just find a comfortable position either sitting or standing and it’s like the sensation when you’re trying to stop a wee, although we recommend you don’t do this when you’re actually urinating.
What you need to do is clench your muscles in quick succession and we call those fast exercises and you can do this ten to fifty times depending on how strong your pelvic floor are, three times a day, or you can clench and hold for a little longer if you can hold for up to ten seconds, that’s great. If you’re having difficulty performing the pelvic floor exercises speak to your midwife for other options available.
NHS: What happens at a scan and what will they tell me?
Useful information regarding ultrasound scans in pregnancy
A scan is when a sonographer uses a transducer to send sound waves into your tummy to build up a picture of your baby. In your pregnancy you’re offered two opportunities to have a scan: one at around twelve weeks, and one again at twenty weeks.
The twelve week one is done for the dating of your pregnancy – not all hospitals offer this though, and your twenty week scan is done to look at the structure of your baby to make sure it’s growing well and to exclude abnormalities like spina bifida or heart defects. There’s no know side effects to having a scan for either you or your baby.
When you see the sonographer, you’ll lay on a couch, they’ll put cold gel on your tummy and put a transducer over your tummy, send the sound waves in so they can identify the parts of your baby. This is so they can look at how your baby’s growing and work out how old it is. Normally if you’re having a 12-week scan, that’s booked in the early stages of your pregnancy when you go to first see the midwife.
She’ll either give you the opportunity to call them yourself to make your appointment or she’ll make the appointment for you. On average a scan takes 15 minutes, but if it’s more complicated, it can take up to 45 minutes so be prepared.
Having a scan in your pregnancy is a great time for you and your partner to bond with your baby. It’s the first time that you realise what’s going on with your body and you get to see what’s growing inside.
Enjoy it, it’s one of the best times of your pregnancy.
NHS: How can I cope with morning sickness?
Lots of helpful tips and advice for dealing with morning sickness
Morning sickness is quite a normal common side effect of being pregnant and very rarely will the baby ever be affected. It’s all to do with the hormone changes of pregnancy. Some people get it when they first get up in the morning.
You can get it in the middle of the day, late in the afternoon or the evening time. It’s just how it happens to occur in your body at the time, not necessarily a morning sickness. There’s a difference between feeling nauseous, which is just feeling a bit sick which might last for an hour or two of the day, it might last for days, it might last for weeks and there’s a difference between that and vomiting and where you can’t keep any food or drink down.
It’s called hyperemesis and if you can’t keep your food down, you’re actually vomiting, you need to see your midwife or doctor quite quickly, you may need some specialist help.
Things that might help you not to be so nauseated are things like bland foods like jacket potatoes, pasta and things like that, dry bread, dry toast, dry biscuits, not chocolate biscuits necessarily and to keep hydrated, lots of water and cups of tea. Not too many cups of tea.
Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes because of course they constrict around your tummy and that can make you feel sick as well so wear loose-fitting clothes whilst your pregnant.
Smoking can definitely make your morning sickness worse and so the best advice we can give is to stop smoking in your pregnancy and your nausea symptoms should settle right down
NHS: Should I take supplements during my pregnancy?
Advice on supplements and diet during pregnancy
Folic acid is important during pregnancy because it helps to prevent some birth defects. For example spina bifida and it’s important that you take 400 micrograms each day during the time that you’re trying to conceive up until you’re 12 weeks pregnant.
Once you are into your second trimester, which is the 13th week of pregnancy you can stop taking a folic acid supplement but it’s part of a multivitamin that you want to continue taking, it won’t cause any harm to you or the baby.
During pregnancy you need vitamin D to help maintain healthy bones and to make sure that your baby will have enough vitamin D in its body during the first few months of life. You need 10 micrograms of vitamin D each day throughout your pregnancy and for as long as you continue to breastfeed. If you want to get your folic acid and vitamin D from a multivitamin tablet, it’s important to make sure that this doesn’t contain vitamin A or retinol.
It’s important to avoid vitamin A during pregnancy as this can cause harm to the baby. If in doubt check the bottle or speak to your midwife. A very balanced diet should help you get the nutrients that you need during pregnancy, but sometimes it’s difficult to get enough iron or vitamin b12.
You can talk to your midwife about how they can check that your body does have enough of these nutrients and what you can do about it if your levels are low.
NHS: My baby is breech. What help will I get?
A brief overview of what to expect if your baby is breech
A breech birth means their baby’s bottom or feet are facing downwards rather than its head. There’s no particular reason why this happens. Around about 20% of babies will be breech at 28 weeks. By about 32 weeks, around about 15 percent of babies will be breached.
By 37 weeks if your baby’s not turned you can be offered to have an ecv or an external cephalic version. This is where the doctor tries to turn the baby around from the outside. If this isn’t successful most women will be offered a caesarean section.
Some women will be offered to have a vaginal breech birth if the baby’s in the right position and if there’s no pre-existing conditions or if you’ve had a vaginal birth before.
When you’ve discovered that your baby’s breeched you’ll be able to discuss your options with the Midwife. There’s always a chance that they will turn themselves around spontaneously.