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Many people think one glass of alcohol during pregnancy can do no harm. Studies have shown that no amount is safe. Not drinking before or during pregnancy, and during the time you breastfeed, will increase the chances of a healthy pregnancy and baby. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can lead to birth defects and brain damage. We recommend to stop drinking alcohol from the moment you try to get pregnant.
We strongly advise against using drugs during pregnancy. Soft drugs (cannabis, marijuana/weed and hash) can pose a health risk to your pregnancy and your baby. It is known that the use of soft drugs magnifies the damaging effects of other stimulants such as alcohol. Not being able to go without soft drugs (addiction) impacts the pregnancy negatively. Your baby can show signs of withdrawal after birth.
Hard drugs pose a large risk to an unborn baby. Cocaine, ecstasy (XTC) and heroine are highly dangerous. Depending on the drug used, the child can have a congenital defect or developmental disorder and/or could become addicted. Quitting hard drugs after regular use during pregnancy can cause withdrawal symptoms in the unborn baby. Always consult a specialist before quitting.
It is recommended to take extra folic acid until 11 weeks of pregnancy. Folic acid reduces the chance of your baby having spina bifida. Take one tablet of 0.4 to 0.5 milligrams of folic acid a day. These are available over-the-counter. You don’t need to take extra folic acid when you are also taking prenatal vitamins, as these contain the required dosage.
The excrement of cats can contain a parasite (which causes toxoplasmosis). A toxoplasmosis infection during pregnancy can have serious consequences for your unborn baby. Because of this, it is best not to handle the litter box while pregnant. We also recommend using gloves when gardening.
Smoking during pregnancy poses major risks. A woman who smokes or who spends a lot of time in a smoky environment, can cause harm to her pregnancy. Cigarettes contain harmful substances. These substances lower the placental blood flow, reducing the supply of oxygen to the baby. This impedes the baby’s growth. The birth weight of children from mothers who smoke is therefore often (too) low and they are also more often born prematurely. This makes them more vulnerable. During the first years of life they are also more prone to respiratory diseases.
The mother has a higher risk of developing high blood pressure, with can result in pre-eclampsia. As there is reduced blood flow to the placenta, there is a chance the placenta detaches, causing the baby to die.
Furthermore, there is evidence that SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) is more prevalent when people smoke near the baby. We advise both parents to quit smoking and to avoid smoky rooms as much as possible.
Are you having a hard time quitting? Please let us know during the intake appointment with your midwife.
For more information on smoking and pregnancy, see: www.rokeninfo.nl
A sauna is a great way to relax. You’re literally sweating all worries out of your body. But now that you are pregnant, you might wonder whether the heat can harm your baby.
The negative effect of using the sauna during the first trimester of pregnancy is not entirely clear. However, animal experiment results show that it might be better to skip the sauna during the first 16 weeks. Animals that were exposed to high temperatures during the early stages of pregnancy, showed a higher percentage of miscarriage and congenital defects. It is not proven that this is also the case for humans but to prevent possible defects and miscarriage, it is recommended to err on the side of caution and not take any risk during the first 16 weeks.
There is no indication of sauna visits being harmful after the first 16 weeks. Sauna visits are good for your heart and blood vessels and help to sweat out excess fluid. You shouldn’t overdo it though. Make sure to limit the amount of time you spend in the heat and pay close attention to your body. Avoid large differences in temperature so skip the cold plunge pool and take a lukewarm shower instead that cools you down steadily. Leave the sauna if you start feeling unwell, dizzy or short of breath. It could be your heart beat, and your baby’s, accelerates slightly due to the heat. This is not a problem. But listening to your body is key when visiting the sauna while pregnant.
Inform the sauna or spa of your pregnancy, especially if you are planning on other treatments apart from using the sauna. For example, a seaweed wrap is not recommended during pregnancy and floating is also not an option. But there are many gratifying, relaxing treatments you can still choose. Some saunas and spas even offer complete pregnancy package deals.
Experiences with intimacy and sexuality during pregnancy vary per person and pregnancy. During a pregnancy that progresses normally, there are no definite do’s or don’ts regarding sex. Intercourse cannot cause miscarriage or damage to the baby.
Issues and questions regarding sexuality can always be discussed with your midwife, general practitioner or gynaecologist. This can then be taken into account during physical examination or during labour. This also goes for past negative sexual experiences or issues with vaginal examination.
It is wise to keep exercising regularly during pregnancy. Walking and cycling are perfect exercises. Were you exercising before becoming pregnant? You can continue during your pregnancy, provided you keep listening to your body. It might be necessary to take it a bit slower during your workouts. We discourage contact sports (team sports) during pregnancy due to the risk of something or someone bumping into your belly. You should also stop training your abdominal muscles.
You can go on holiday during your pregnancy. On holiday the same advice applies as at home. We do advise to use a good sun screen due to risk of pregnancy mask. When flying we recommend taking a certificate of fitness to fly with you. You can collect this at our practice five days before departure. Please call our assistant beforehand and she will ensure it is ready when you arrive. During the flight it is best to walk around every hour to reduce the risk of thrombosis.
When you are pregnant and you live and eat healthily you should be getting enough nutrients and vitamins. It is also important to go outside each day, about 15 to 30 minutes. If for some reason you are unable to eat, drink or go outside enough, we recommend you take extra vitamins. At the drugstore and pharmacy you can find vitamin tablets specially made for pregnant women.
During pregnancy it is important to eat healthy and varied food. Eating for two is not necessary, but a little bit extra is allowed. We do not recommend dieting during pregnancy. It is natural to gain weight during pregnancy: 12 to 15 kilograms (26.5-33lb) during the course of the entire pregnancy. When you are pregnant, it is recommended to avoid certain foods. Here is a list with dietary advice:
– Do not eat raw meat or raw cold meats, such as steak tartare spread and carpaccio.
– Do not eat raw fish or pre-packaged fish from the cooler, like smoked salmon.
– Eat oily fish no more than twice a week as the fish can contain toxins due to environmental pollution.
– Do not eat predatory fish or eel caught in Dutch rivers.
– Do not eat cheese made from raw milk (“au lait cru”). Most cheeses found in Dutch supermarkets are fine as they have been pasteurized. Read the packaging carefully.
– Be careful with liver products such as liver sausage or pâté. Eat no more than one sandwich per day with liver and do not eat baked (or fried) liver.
– Wash fruit and vegetables well.
– Do not drink too much caffeine. It is suggested not to drink more than 100 mg of caffeine a day, which is about one cup of coffee. Do not drink energy drinks.
For more in-depth dietary advice, please refer to: www.voedingscentrum.nl