7 ways to look after yourself in pregnancy

As well as thinking of your baby, it’s important to look after yourself in pregnancy too. Our midwife Sophie has put together some top tips to help you.

Written by Tommy's midwife Sophie

1.)  Take a seat

If you’ve always been the one who looks after everyone else, it’s important to make sure that you are being taken care of by your family and close friends in pregnancy.

Instead of topping up glasses at gatherings of friends or family, take the opportunity to have a sit down if you need to – this will also help you to avoid getting swollen ankles.

Varicose veins (which occur when blood collects in the veins which causes swelling and discomfort – most often in the legs and feet) and can also be uncomfortable – so put your feet up on grandpa’s footstool and let someone else bring you nibbles and a (non-alcoholic) drink.

Shopping while pregnant can be tough. Wandering around the high street with heavy bags (and a sizeable bump) is not good for your supple pregnancy joints - make sure you take the time for a tea break. 

Try to avoid lifting heavy items, like bags of spuds, and try to minimise the risk of injuring yourself by bending your knees, not your back when picking up items from low supermarket shelves.

2.) Stay active

Low impact exercise such as walking, swimming and pregnancy yoga is great for your body and your mind. It can enhance your sleep, your physical stamina and even help you to prepare for labour and birth. 

We also know from research that exercise in pregnancy helps to lower stress levels and produces feel good hormones called endorphins, which give you a happy boost.

A good dose of fresh air to help blow away the cobwebs can do wonders for your mental wellbeing – so grab your coat and a pair of comfy shoes – and enjoy all that the outside has to offer!

3.) Take time to relax

Make sure you get some quality time to relax with your partner.

Whether it’s a movie night in or a walk in the park at the weekend, it’s important to spend time together before your bundle of joy arrives. Enjoy your last moments together when it’s just the two of you and look forward to exciting times ahead.

4.) Accept help

Allowing someone else to peel the spuds or lay the dinner table can really help ease the pressure during pregnancy.

It’s a good way to get used to having the help you'll need once your little one has arrived. Allow yourself to be looked after if you are feeling overwhelmed.

5.) Make a mocktail

Both the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) advise that pregnant women should completely abstain from drinking alcohol during pregnancy. That's because alcohol can harm your developing baby.

 A tipple can sometimes feel hard to resist. So why not try making one of these delicious fruit punches or smoothies instead? Not only is this best for you and your baby, but it’ll also leave your hungover friends and relatives rather jealous:

Soothing smoothie - you’ll need 1 banana, a pinch of nutmeg, half a teaspoon of vanilla extract, a cup of milk, two cups of crushed ice – blend into a thick smoothie.

Ginger zinger punch - try orange juice, mixed with lemonade and a pinch of ginger plus plenty of crushed ice.

Winter warmer - try heating some cranberry juice, a stick of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and some orange zest.

6.) Travel smart

If you're travelling away from home then remember to take your pregnancy notes with you. They let medical staff know your full antenatal history and help them to give you the right treatment. Think of them as your and baby's passport to the best possible pregnancy care. 

If you're jetting off for some sun then take the following precautions. Wear support stockings to help blood flow, drink plenty of liquids and if it's a long haul flight try to keep mobile during the flight by walking up and down the aisle every hour or doing leg stretches.

7.) Be prepared and know your contact numbers

Pre-packing your hospital bag a little earlier than necessary will minimise the risk of having to run around looking for things when labour starts.

Make sure you’ve bought plenty of nappies, maternity pads and other newborn essentials before the supermarkets opening hours are reduced or have sold out of things during the festive period.

Also ensure that you have all of your important telephone numbers to hand – ensure you have the contact numbers for your labour ward, birth centre, and day assessment unit.

If you're booked for a home birth, ensure you know how to contact your midwife on call, or you have an alternative plan if required.

Please remember that all maternity services, including hospital labour wards, birth centres, and maternity wards, are open 24/7 and will want you to call if you have any concerns. 

If you feel unwell, have a sudden severe headache, experience a change in your baby's movements, or have any of the symptoms listed here you should call them immediately.

Remember your local maternity ward is open 24/7. There is always a midwife on hand to help you. If you're worried about your or baby's health keep calm and #CallTheMidwife.