Congratulations, exciting times ahead! Being pregnant is wonderful, it also means your body will go through lots of changes. When you’re a first-time mum, it’s hard to know what to do for the best, particularly with the amount of information available, so here’s our guide to keeping well during pregnancy.
Hair dyes and pregnancy
Your growing baby is at its most vulnerable before 12 weeks, the NHS advise that you avoid colouring your hair. After 12 weeks, if you dye your hair yourself, make sure you wear gloves, work in a well-ventilated room and leave the dye on your hair for the minimum amount of time. Highlighting your hair reduces any risks because the dye is only touching the hair strands. The chemicals are only being absorbed by the hair, not your scalp or blood steam.
Sleep and Pregnancy
During pregnancy it can sometimes be a challenge to sleep well, especially as the pregnancy progresses. Heartburn, needing to pee, the ever-growing bump – can all add to a sleepless night.
Heartburn: If heartburn keeps you awake, you are not alone, Heartburn plagues most mums-to-be at some point because progesterone, the hormone that relaxes muscles in pregnancy, also relaxes the stomach valve that keeps acid out of the oesophagus. In addition, the growing uterus crowds the stomach, forcing acid into the oesophagus.
You may be able to control your indigestion with changes to your eating habits. It can help to eat small meals often, rather than larger meals three times a day, and to not eat within three hours of going to bed at night. Cutting down on drinks containing caffeine, and foods that are rich, spicy or fatty, this can also help to ease your symptoms.
If you're using over the counter heartburn remedies be mindful, in excess they can make you constipated – so drink plenty of water if you can’t find a natural alternative.
Peeing in pregnancy: Excessive peeing is one of the most common early signs of pregnancy. It happens because soon after conception, your body creates extra blood flow, which makes your kidneys produce up to 25% more urine. Increased urine production peaks between weeks 9 and 16, then settles down. Passing urine frequently can also be influenced by the additional pressure on your bladder from a growing uterus.
Try to lean forward when you urinate, this will help to fully empty your bladder, so you’ll hopefully need fewer trips to the toilet. Don’t cut back on liquids thinking it'll keep you out of the bathroom. Your body and your baby need a steady supply of fluids and dehydration can lead to urinary tract infections.
Read more about frequent urination in pregnancy here
Bump-Comfort: During the latter stages of pregnancy, as well as feeling warmer than usual, your oversized belly can make ‘getting comfortable’ feel impossible at night. You may have seen the v- shaped maternity cushions available or the long sausage type cushions -They can really help. If you lie on your side and put your leg on the cushion, your spine straightens, and your weight is supported. Try it!
Teeth and Pregnancy
Here’s the good news – You’re entitled to FREE dentistry in the UK, throughout your pregnancy and for a year after your due date. Take full advantage of this because those pesky hormones, make your teeth vulnerable to plaque so keep your teeth super clean. Also being physically sick from morning sickness, it’s vital that you remember to rinse your mouth with water to remove the acid from your teeth. Remember to ask your midwife for a certificate of pregnancy to show to the dentist.
Increased Vitamin D intake
Vitamin D helps to regulate the levels of calcium and phosphate in your body. You need calcium and phosphate to keep your bones and teeth healthy. Not having enough vitamin D when you are pregnant, or breastfeeding may prevent your baby from getting enough calcium and phosphate. This can cause them to develop weak teeth and bones, and in rare cases, develop rickets.
Don’t take our word for it, here is the NHS guideline
Healthy Eating and Pregnancy
It is vital that you eat well during pregnancy, the food you eat provides your baby with the required nutrients for development. Your diet should be rich in fibre, protein, calcium and iron. As discussed, try to avoid spicy food, it’ll play havoc with your digestive system and probably give you heartburn. Although try telling that to your body, when you crave tandoori chicken…
The NHS have a useful guide on what you should be eating during pregnancy to help you make the right choices.
Ankles and Feet in Pregnancy
During pregnancy, the extra fluid in the body and the pressure from the growing uterus can cause swelling (or "edema") in the ankles and feet. The swelling tends to get worse as a woman's due date nears, particularly near the end of the day and during hotter weather.
To help reduce and/or prevent those annoying swollen ankles, try these simple steps:
• Avoid standing for long periods.
• Prop up your feet when sitting and avoid crossing your legs.
• Stretch often when sitting for long periods.
• Lie on your left side when sleeping.
• Put maternity support stockings (that go to your waist) on before getting out of bed in the morning
• Drink plenty of water. (This may sound odd, but if your body feels it is dehydrated, it will try to retain even more fluid.)
• Swim or stand in a pool up to your neck.
• Exercise regularly.
• Try to stay cool in humid or hot weather.
Being pregnant is hard work, so take some time for yourself. Even if it only extends to half an hour with your feet up watching TV. You need ‘you time’, soon enough you’ll have little time to consider yourself so take advantage now.
If you’re budget (and time) can stretch to a pregnancy massage, then go for it. It will help to keep you relaxed and relieve all those aches and pains. Another popular option is a manicure or pedicure There are many polishes and products available which are both formaldehyde and toluene free and perfectly safe during pregnancy — so go ahead and treat yourself!
Feeling too tired to cook? Don’t! Ask your partner to do it – or better still – go out! Little treats will make all the difference and really don’t have to be expensive.
Enjoy your pregnancy, embrace the changes to your body, an amazing thing is happening – You’re creating a new life x