Most women who contacted the review said that the safety of their baby and themselves was their primary concern. They expected that the health services and professionals caring for them would also have safety as a priority.
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You should start to feel your baby move between around 16 and 24 weeks of pregnancy. If this is your first baby, you might not feel movements until after 20 weeks.
The movements can feel like a gentle swirling or fluttering. As your pregnancy progresses, you may feel kicks and jerky movements.
If you have not felt your baby move by 24 weeks, tell your midwife. They’ll check your baby’s heartbeat and movements.
You should feel your baby move right up to and during labour.
How often should my baby move?
There’s no set number of movements you should feel each day – every baby is different.
The important thing is to get to know your baby’s usual movements from day to day.
Protecting your baby from tobacco smoke is one of the best things you can do to give your child a healthy start in life. It can be difficult to stop smoking, but it’s never too late to quit.
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. As a result, their heart has to beat harder every time you smoke.
Alcohol and Pregnancy
When you drink, alcohol passes from your blood through the placenta and to your baby.
A baby’s liver is one of the last organs to develop and doesn’t mature until the later stages of pregnancy.
Your baby cannot process alcohol as well as you can, and too much exposure to alcohol can seriously affect their development.
The risks are greater the more you drink. The effects include learning difficulties and behavioural problems.
Drinking heavily throughout pregnancy can cause your baby to develop a serious condition called fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).
Children with FAS have:
- poor growth
- facial abnormalities
- learning and behavioural problems
Drinkline runs a free, confidential helpline for people who are concerned about their drinking, or someone else’s.
Free helpline: 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am–8pm, weekends 11am–4pm)
Addaction help people change their behaviour to become the very best that they can be. They support people to make lasting change in their lives around their alcohol use.
Free 24 hour helpline: 0800 3047021
Obesity and Pregnancy
Being overweight when you’re pregnant increases the risk of some complications such as gestational diabetes. Make sure you go to all your antenatal appointments so your pregnancy team can monitor the health of you and your baby.
It’s also important to eat a healthy, balanced diet and get some physical activity every day. You should be offered a referral to a dietitian or other health professional for personalised advice on healthy eating and how to be physically active during your pregnancy. Being physically active in pregnancy will not harm your baby.
Start4Life has joined up with the NHS Information Service for Parents. As well as the existing health advice service that Start4Life provides for pregnant women and new mums, they also now offer tips and advice by e-mail, free-of-charge.
Diabetes and Pregnancy
Most women with diabetes have a healthy baby.
But having diabetes means that you and your baby are more at risk of serious health complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
The good news is that by planning ahead and getting support from your GP and diabetes team, you can really reduce the risks involved. So you’re more likely to enjoy a healthy pregnancy and give birth to a healthy baby.
Start taking the following steps to help you prepare for a healthy pregnancy:
- Get to know the risks involved and how to reduce them
- Talk to your GP or nurse
- Keep your blood sugar to your target levels
- Check what medication you’re taking, as some can harm the baby
- Take folic acid every day
- Get your eyes and kidneys checked
- Make healthy lifestyle choices – like eating well, cutting down on drinking alcohol, quitting smoking and getting active.
You’re not on your own, there’s lots of support to help you. You’ll get this from your healthcare team, but talk to your family and friends too.
Diabetes UK are fighting for a world where diabetes can do no harm. Providing access to crucial information and supporting people experiencing life-changing and potentially fatal complications.
Call on: 0345 123 2399
Drugs and Pregnancy
Using illegal or street drugs during pregnancy, including cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine and heroin, can have a potentially serious effect on your unborn baby.
If you regularly use drugs, it’s important to tackle this now you’re pregnant.
It’s best not to stop abruptly without first seeking medical advice as there may be withdrawal problems or other side effects.
If you use drugs, it’s important to seek help straight away so you can get the right advice and support.
You can get help from:
- your midwife
- your GP
- specialist treatment services
They will not judge you and can help you access a wide range of other services, such as antenatal and family support.
A strong start will lay the foundation for maximising a child’s future life chances by supporting the development of good mental, physical and emotional well-being.
Call on: 020 7443 7895