One of the best parts about being pregnant is the help you receive from loved ones and medical specialists. What they say is true: it takes a village and we’re lucky to have help by the way of midwives, friends, and family members who’ve done it before.
One of the worst parts about being pregnant? The opinions you’ll receive from just about everyone. Unsolicited advice on what you should and shouldn’t eat, drink, wear… how you should sleep, how you should sit.
And while tips and advice can be helpful, when it’s coming from every angle it can be hard to discern what’s fact, and what’s fiction. In order to help you know for sure the real dos and don’ts of pregnancy, we’ve compiled a helpful guide below.
This has been reviewed by an Aussie OBGYN, so you know it’s legit.
Things to do in pregnancy
Take a prenatal vitamin
Experts agree that taking a prenatal is a must. Growing a baby requires higher amounts of vitamins and nutrients. Even if you’re incredibly diligent with healthy eating, it’s extremely difficult to get this increased requirement from your diet alone.
Before rushing out to buy a prenatal vitamin, it’s important to note that not all prenatals are made equal—form matters. For example, one in three women can’t actually absorb folic acid due to a genetic mutation known as the MTHFR-gene.
As new research has emerged, experts are increasingly recommending women choose a prenatal that uses methylated folate—which everyone can better absorb—to ensure they can reap the benefits from this essential nutrient.
Kin’s experts formulated The Prenatal, a high-quality prenatal with methylated folate. So you can take our prenatal knowing that you’re giving your baby the best possible start.
Go through a fertility test with a health practitioner to understand all the things you need to know when trying to conceive and help you improve your chances of conceiving.
Reduce your caffeine intake
Many of us consider coffee as one of the greatest joys in life but during pregnancy, it’s sadly time to cut back. It’s best to keep your caffeine intake at 200mg or less per day, which is around two small cuppas.
And, it’s not just coffee you’ll want to be careful of, caffeine appears in heaps of other food and drinks, too.
Here’s a cheat sheet to the caffeine content in some other popular drinks:
- 1 shot of espresso coffee: 100mg
- 1 cup of black tea: 48mg
- 1 cup of green tea: 28.8 mg
- Matcha: 70 mg caffeine
- 375ml can of cola: 49mg
- 250ml can of energy drink: 80mg
- 100g bar of milk chocolate: 20mg
But, it’s not all bad news… There are plenty of delicious herbal teas and decaffeinated coffee varieties out there these days. You might discover a new fave beverage!
Keep nutrition front of mind
Keeping your body nourished with plenty of healthy foods is always important but while you’re pregnant, it becomes even more crucial.
Just like that old saying about ‘eating for two’ indicates, your nutritional needs definitely increase while you’ve got a growing life inside you.
Here are our top tips for pregnancy nutrition:
- Do focus on getting plenty of nourishment from each of the food groups
- Don’t go overboard counting macronutrients
- Do the research to find out what is and what isn’t safe to eat
- Don’t get hung up on pregnancy food myths (we’ve heard some weird ones!)
To ensure you’re hitting all your pregnancy nutritional needs, Kin offers a Nutrition and Lifestyle Consultation. The consultation is affordable, conveniently done via Zoom, and will equip you with a personalised plan.
Know what foods, drinks and vitamins to avoid / limit
Salmonella, E. coli, campylobacter, listeria, and toxoplasmosis are five types of infections you’ll want to dodge during pregnancy as they can be dangerous for your baby and you.
To limit your chances of getting one, it’s generally a good idea to avoid:
- Unwashed vegetables and fruits
- Raw eggs
- Raw or smoked fish and shellfish
- Raw or rare meat and poultry
- Dried or cured meats like salami
- Unpasteurised milk
- Raw sprouts
- Mould-ripened cheeses like brie
Foods or supplements with high levels of vitamin A are also off the cards as they’ve been linked to birth defects.
Focus on your nutrition to relieve constipation
Unfortunately, constipation is a pretty common side effect of pregnancy and if it’s severe, it can result in haemorrhoids. Ouch.
Up your water intake and eat heaps of fibre-rich foods like veggies and fruits to help combat constipation. Probiotic-rich foods like yoghurt can also help clear any, ah, blockages.
And, just a quick one on laxatives. They might seem like a quick fix but they’re not safe for use during pregnancy. If you’re struggling with constipation, your doctor or nutrition expert might have some recommendations for pregnancy-safe fibre or probiotic supplements.
Get enough protein in your diet
Aim for around 60-100 grams of protein a day. Protein is rich in amino acids which are known as the ‘building blocks’ for cells. Getting extra protein will help support the baby's development of skin, hair, fingernails and muscles.
If you’re noticing weight loss, muscle fatigue, frequent infections or severe fluid retention, you might not be consuming enough.
Pregnancy-safe sources of protein include:
- Lean meat
- Nuts and nut butters
- Soy products
- Beans and legumes
Keep an eye on your dental hygiene
Keeping your chompers in check is important at any time but especially during pregnancy. Pregnancy hormones can sometimes lead to dental problems like gum disease or tooth decay.
Maintain a solid teeth cleaning routine with twice-a-day brushing and flossing as well as regular dental checkups.
If you notice anything unusual, like irritated or inflamed gums or a loose tooth, see your dentist STAT.
Learn to relieve morning sickness
There are no two ways about it, morning sickness sucks. Worst of all, it’s not just limited to the ‘morning’ but can happen any time of day.
Unfortunately, it’s a pretty common pregnancy symptom, especially in your first trimester.
If you’re experiencing morning sickness, go easy on yourself and try to adopt some strategies to relieve it.
Some ideas that might help:
- Eat smaller meals more often
- Snack throughout the day to avoid having an empty tummy or low blood sugar levels
- Remember your nausea triggers and try to avoid them
- Make your first meal of the day something plain like dry toast
- Drink ginger tea
- Steer clear of places with strong smells like fish markets
- Try to keep stress levels low
- Keep yourself well-rested
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially if you’ve been sick
All that in mind, excessive or ongoing vomiting is cause for concern so reach out to your doctor if you’re experiencing frequent or ongoing bouts.
Avoid harmful toxins
In our everyday lives, we’re exposed to heaps of toxins and chemicals that at other times, we might not think twice about.
However, when you’re pregnant, it’s important to be extra careful to avoid them to reduce the risk of your baby being born with congenital disorders or having health issues.
Your unborn baby could be exposed to toxins through your bloodstream if you breathe or swallow any chemicals. After your baby is born, another avenue for exposure to toxins is via your breastmilk or if they put their fingers in their mouth.
Steer clear of these while pregnant or breastfeeding:
- Pesticides and herbicides
- Cleaning products especially those containing chemicals
- Pet medications and waste
- Paint and paint solvents
- Mosquito repellents with higher amounts of DEET or picaridin—try window screens and protective clothing instead
- Nail polish containing formaldehyde
- Flame retardants
- The chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) which is found in many plastics
Engage in a low-risk pregnancy exercise routine
Regular exercise while pregnant isn’t just safe, it’s actually beneficial in many ways and can help:
- Improve your mood
- Lower the risk of postpartum depression
- Prevent gestational diabetes
- Decrease the chances of preterm birth
- Increase the likelihood of a vaginal birth
- Give you the endurance you’ll need for labour and delivery
That said, keep your pregnancy exercise routine at a lower intensity than usual.
Drink more water than usual
Get ready to up your water intake. Your body needs more water during pregnancy for a few reasons.
- To develop amniotic fluid
- To create more blood—around 50 per cent more than usual
- Build new tissue
- Carry nutrients to your baby
- Help prevent urinary tract infections, constipation, and haemorrhoids
- Lower your risk of overheating
- Reduce swelling
Aim for around 2.3 litres per day (approximately 10-12 glasses). If you’re living in a hot climate, exercising or you’ve had vomiting or diarrhoea, you’ll need even more.
Change up your skincare routine
Skincare is a wonderful form of self-care and following a regular routine can be very soothing. When you’re pregnant, you’ll want to give your current regimen a good eyeball and check that your products don’t contain any retinol (vitamin A) or parabens.
While you’re at it, check your perfumes and nail polishes for phthalates, formaldehyde, and toluene as you’ll need to avoid those too.
Have sex if you feel like it
Having sex during pregnancy is completely normal and generally considered safe by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG).
There are, however, some cases where you should avoid having sex:
- If you’re at risk of preterm labour
- If you have placenta praevia
Check with your doctor if you’re unsure about whether it’s safe for you to have sex while pregnant and ensure you follow their advice.
Maintain a healthy weight gain during pregnancy
Gaining weight is a normal part of pregnancy and it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the scales to ensure you’re growing in tandem with your baby’s needs. Being underweight can increase your risk of having a preterm birth or a baby with a low birth weight.
On the other hand, being overweight can increase your risk of gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, stillbirth, and caesarean.
Your pregnancy care team will be able to give you personalised recommendations, but here’s a ballpark guide to the general recommendations.
Things to avoid in pregnancy
There’s no sugarcoating this one. While pregnant it’s best to avoid alcohol completely, according to the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG).
In fact, it’s safest to stop drinking once you start trying to fall pregnant.
Drinking during pregnancy could cause your baby to be born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. It can also increase your risk of miscarriage, preterm birth or having a baby with a low birth weight.
Smoke or do drugs
There’s no arguing with the experts on this one either. Smoking—as well as using vapes and other nicotine products—has all kinds of implications for growing babies and none of them are good.
Smoking during pregnancy can increase the risk of miscarriage, preterm birth, low birth weight, birth defects and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), as well as asthma and other respiratory traumas.
Need some help to quit smoking? Call Quitline on 13 78 48 and check out the service’s online resources.
Other recreational drugs—like marijuana, cocaine, speed, ice, heroin, methadone and LSD—can cause serious harm to unborn babies like brain damage or heart problems.
They can also increase the risk of miscarriage, preterm birth, and stillbirth.
If you need some support or information on giving up recreational drugs, the Alcohol and Drug Foundation has an online tool to find help.
Raise your body temperature
Having your core body temperature hitting 39 degrees celsius or above, and staying there for lengthy periods, can be dangerous for your unborn baby. Overheating has been linked to neural tube defects and miscarriage, and can also cause developmental issues for a baby’s spinal cord and backbones.
The take-home message? Keep your cool and avoid hot spas, saunas, Bikram Yoga and toasty beauty treatments like body wraps.
We know pregnancy can be a little overwhelming — but it doesn’t have to be. Kin's Pregnancy Checklist consists of bite-sized checklist items personalised to your pregnancy journey. Approved by fertility specialists and OBYGN approved, you'll feel prepared to tackle each day as it comes and enjoy the process, rather than get lost in it.