The Dos and Don'ts of Pregnancy: From Conception to Birth

The Dos and Don'ts of Pregnancy: From Conception to Birth

by Louise Baty


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Confused about what’s good and bad for you and your baby? With the constant bombardment of what you can and can’t do during pregnancy, parents-to-be can often feel stressed at a time which should be full of new and exciting discoveries. This concise and accessible book is packed with practical advice and offers straight forward answers to the questions that you are unsure about from conception to birth, including guidance on diet and exercise, safety in the workplace, common complaints, potential problems, physical changes and labor.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781849537629
Publisher: Summersdale
Publication date: 10/01/2016
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 874,899
Product dimensions: 4.90(w) x 6.80(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Louise Baty is a freelance journalist and author who writes about parenting and health. She has contributed to a wide range of publications, including the Daily Mail, the Daily Mirror, the Daily Express, Take a Break, Bella, Woman's Own, Top Santé and Prima Baby. Mother to a spirited three-year-old, she is also expecting her second child.

Read an Excerpt

The Dos and Don'ts of Pregnancy

From Conception to Birth

By Louise Baty

Summersdale Publishers Ltd

Copyright © 2015 Summersdale Publishers Ltd
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-78372-635-6




Deciding to try for a baby is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make – and certainly the most life changing.

As you're reading this book, it's likely that you want to know how to have a safe, healthy and happy pregnancy. Well, you've come to the right place!

It's good to plan ahead, if you can. So here are some useful tips to put into practice before you even conceive.

Prepare yourself

You should view the months before you conceive as being equally important as the ones during your pregnancy. So it's beneficial to prepare your body before you attempt to conceive your baby.

Adopt a healthier lifestyle –Try to adopt a healthy lifestyle at least 12 months before you try to conceive by:

[check] cutting down your alcohol intake

[check] cutting out recreational drugs

[check] eating a balanced healthy diet (see details in next section)

[check] taking regular exercise

[check] reaching a healthy BMI before conception – this is considered to be between 18.5 and 24.9. (For more details, see page 13.)

[check] stopping smoking

[check] getting plenty of sleep

[check] taking folic acid – around three months before you decide to start trying for a baby, start taking 400 mcg of folic acid each day. (For the reasons why, see page 14 in this chapter.)

Get your finances in order – There's no two ways about it – babies are expensive! It's a good idea to have a financial plan for your maternity leave, if you're going to take it. And it's beneficial to make sure your partner is working to the same plan if possible. If you can start saving money each month before you even start trying for your baby, do.

General dos and don'ts during pregnancy

Pregnancy is an exciting journey but it's important to know the 'basics' for navigating your way smoothly and safely through each stage. In the following chapters, we'll focus on individual trimesters. But for now, here are some useful general tips for your entire pregnancy.

Look into antenatal care – It's a good idea to know about the antenatal care you're eligible for, as soon as you know you're pregnant.

Meet the professionals – Over the next few months, you will have a series of appointments with medical professionals, whose job it is to look after you and your unborn baby during your pregnancy. Appointments may be with a midwife, your GP or a specialist doctor called an obstetrician.

Find out about classes – You may also be offered antenatal classes, so you can find out about the process of pregnancy, labour and possibly also breastfeeding. Your place should be booked in advance and your midwife should be able to tell you when and how to do this.

Take care of your general health

It's important to look after your own wellbeing. You can do this in the following ways:

Take regular exercise – Start or continue to exercise daily for as long as you can manage comfortably during pregnancy. Experts recommend at least 30 minutes of daily gentle exercise, such as walking or swimming in a warm pool.

Make time to relax – More than at any time during your life, during pregnancy it's essential to get enough rest and make time to recharge your batteries. Whether that means taking a regular relaxing bath or simply finding time to sit and read a book or magazine, make sure that you're looking after yourself.

Reach a healthy BMIIt's important to be a healthy weight before you try to conceive. Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight, applying to adult men and women. A healthy BMI is classed as being between 18.5 and 24.9. If you are below this, you're classed as underweight and if you're above it, you're overweight.

Know the risks of being underweight or overweight – Being either underweight or overweight can affect your fertility, although this is not the case with everyone. Being underweight or overweight can also affect your chances of having a healthy pregnancy. Underweight women may struggle to get enough nutrients for themselves and their growing babies. Overweight women are more at risk of developing pregnancy complications such as high blood pressure. We've included guidelines for a healthy diet from page 15 in this chapter.

Take folic acid and vitamin supplements

Take folic acid – As we've already mentioned, start taking folic acid three months before you try to conceive if possible. You're advised to take 400 micrograms of folic acid (0.4 mg) daily.

WHY? Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects, which can cause structural problems in your unborn baby's brain and spinal cord. For this reason, you're advised to take folic acid daily until around week 12 of your pregnancy.

Take vitamin D – You're also recommended to take 10 mcg of vitamin D daily throughout your pregnancy and should carry on taking it after your baby is born, if you decide to breastfeed.

WHY? Vitamin D regulates calcium and phosphate in the body – essential for keeping teeth and bones healthy. Taking it during pregnancy will provide your baby with enough vitamin D during their first months. Although vitamin D can be found in eggs, meat and oily fish, it can be difficult to get enough through food alone, which is why a supplement is recommended during pregnancy.

Know which vitamins are safe before and during pregnancy – Some vitamin supplements are not safe during pregnancy. Don't take any high-dose multivitamin supplements, fish liver oil supplements or supplements containing vitamin A as too much vitamin A can damage your baby.

Eat a healthy diet

Try to eat a balanced diet – Eating a healthy diet full of vitamins and minerals is important at any stage of life. However, it's vital during pregnancy, when you aren't just supporting yourself – you're growing another person! Around 15 per cent of pregnant Brits are overweight. Yet, healthy eating during pregnancy has been found to prevent diabetes, high blood pressure and even premature birth.

Don't worry if you give in to food cravings – They're one of the most talked-about aspects of pregnancy. Lots of women experience overwhelming food cravings during their pregnancy, whether it's crisps in the first trimester, followed by fresh pineapple in the second trimester – and chocolate cake in the third. A little of what you fancy won't do you any harm but try to maintain a mainly healthy diet for both you and your baby's sake. You may also find yourself attracted to certain scents, depending on which trimester you're in.

Don't fall into the 'eating for two' trap – If you were hoping that pregnancy was the perfect excuse to hit the doughnuts, you're heading for disappointment. Sadly, the old saying 'you're eating for two now!' is very misleading. Under no circumstances should you be eating double your pre-pregnancy calorie intake, even if you're expecting twins or triplets. During pregnancy, your body becomes more efficient by wasting less. Pre-pregnancy, women are advised to consume around 2,000 calories daily. Pregnant women generally need 300 calories more than this – equivalent to one slice of wholegrain toast, half an avocado and around eight almonds.

Choose healthy snacks – Some women find that early pregnancy nausea can only be eased by regular snacks. In this instance, you should choose healthy options (you'll find more details on page 19).

Eat foods containing folic acid – In addition to taking a folic acid supplement, you should try to eat foods rich in folic acid such as:

[check] avocado

[check] raw mushrooms

[check] spinach

[check] broccoli

[check] raspberries

[check] nuts

[check] cooked dried beans

[check] citrus fruits

Eat two portions of fish weekly – Fish is a good source of protein and contains vitamins, minerals and essential omega 3 fatty acids. All adults, including pregnant women, women trying to conceive and breastfeeding mums, should try to eat at least two portions of fish weekly, at least one of which should be oily fish.

Some types of fish should be avoided or limited during pregnancy or pre-conception (see section below). But you don't need to limit or avoid the following fish:

[check] plaice

[check] cod

[check] haddock

[check] skate

[check] hake

[check] flounder

[check] gurnard

[check] coley

Eat five portions of fruit and veg a day – Vegetables and fruit provide vitamins, minerals and fibre, aiding digestion and preventing constipation. They can be:

[check] fresh

[check] canned

[check] juiced

[check] dried

Eat plenty of carbs – Starchy foods provide energy, fibre and vitamins without too many calories. They should be included in every main meal. They include:

[check] potatoes

[check] sweet potatoes

[check] yams

[check] bread

[check] pasta

[check] rice

[check] noodles

[check] breakfast cereals

[check] millet

[check] maize

[check] oats

[check] cornmeal

Choose healthier options of everyday foods – Opt for wholemeal rather than processed, white options. Leave the skins on potatoes because they contain more fibre that way.

Eat two or three portions of dairy foods daily – It's important to include dairy products in your diet because they contain calcium and other nutrients that are vital for your baby's development. Dairy foods include:

[check] cheese

[check] milk

[check] yoghurt and fromage frais

Go low fat – Opt for low-fat versions, such as semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, low-fat yoghurts and reduced fat hard cheese. There are some cheeses you should avoid when pregnant (see section below).

Eat protein daily – Foods containing protein include:

[check] meat (but avoid liver)

[check] fish

[check] poultry

[check] eggs

[check] pulses

[check] nuts

[check] beans

Go lean – Opt for lean meat, remove the skin from poultry, and try not to add extra fat or oil when cooking meat. Make sure all meats are cooked thoroughly.

Know which foods to limit

Limit foods high in saturated fats, sugar or both – These are often high in calories and contribute to weight gain and tooth decay. As you are more susceptible to tooth decay during pregnancy, it's important not to overdose on sweets. Fatty, sugary foods also increase the risk of high cholesterol and heart disease. These foods include:

x crisps

x chocolate

x biscuits

x pastries

x ice cream

x cake

x puddings

x fizzy drinks

x oils

x butter and margarine

Choose healthy snacks – If you get hungry between meals, opt for healthy snacks such as:

[check] hummus with pitta or vegetable sticks

[check] beans on toast

[check] ready-to-eat fruit such as figs, prunes and apricots

[check] low-fat yoghurt or fromage frais

[check] fruit

[check] sandwiches or pitta bread with ham, tuna, salmon or grated cheese with salad

Stay up to date with the latest healthy eating advice – We have been careful to ensure that all the information in this book corresponds to the guidance given on the NHS Choices website. For information on the latest official pregnancy guidelines, visit

Know which foods to avoid

Learn which foods should be avoided or limited – There are certain foods which you are advised to avoid when pregnant, or trying to conceive. This is because they could cause food poisoning or contain bacteria, which could harm your unborn baby.

You want to protect your unborn child. However, knowing exactly what you can and can't eat during pregnancy can be tricky, especially when it seems that the official guidelines are constantly chopping and changing.

Check which 'rules' have changed – Until fairly recently, pregnant women in the UK were advised to avoid eating peanuts for fear of causing allergies in their unborn child – if there was a history of any allergy such as asthma, eczema, hay fever or food allergies in their immediate family.

But this advice has now changed. The latest research has shown no clear evidence that eating peanuts during pregnancy can cause your baby to develop a peanut allergy. So if you fancy toast smothered in peanut butter, go ahead (unless you have an allergy yourself, of course).

Check the official guidelines – Visit for the latest food advice from NHS Choices.

According to the latest guidelines (as shown on the NHS Choices website at the time of going to press), here's some advice on the foods you should either avoid, limit or treat with caution:

* Don't eat unpasteurised cows', goats' or sheep's milk or any food made of them, including soft goats' cheese.

* Don't eat soft blue-veined cheeses (such as Danish blue, Gorgonzola and Roquefort) or mould-ripened soft cheeses (such as Brie, Camembert and others with a similar rind, including goats' cheese) uncooked. Cheeses made with mould can contain listeria – a bacteria that cause listeriosis. You can still eat soft, mould-ripened or blue-veined cheeses, if you cook them thoroughly, such as oven-baked Camembert, as the cooking process kills the bacteria. Just make sure they're piping hot throughout.

* Don't eat any type of pâté, including vegetable pâté, which could contain listeria and is eaten without further cooking, once bought.

* Don't eat raw or undercooked meat. Cook all meat and poultry until there's no trace of pink or blood.

* Treat cold cured meats with caution. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) advises pregnant women to be careful when eating cold cured meats such as pepperoni, salami and Parma ham. Due to being cured and fermented rather than cooked, they may contain toxoplasmosis-causing parasites. If a pack of cured meat is labelled 'ready-to-eat', you can reduce risks by freezing it for four days at home before eating. Freezing kills most parasites.

* Don't eat raw or undercooked eggs and any foods containing them, such as home-made mayonnaise. Ensure that eggs are thoroughly cooked until the yolks are set to prevent the risk of salmonella food poisoning.

* Don't eat liver or liver products, such as liver sausage or pâté, as they may contain a lot of vitamin A. Too much vitamin A can harm your baby.

* For this reason, you also shouldn't take high-dose multivitamin supplements, fish liver oil supplements or supplements containing vitamin A either. Always check with your doctor or midwife before taking any supplements.

* The following types of fish should be avoided completely if you're pregnant or trying to conceive. They contain high levels of mercury, which can affect your baby's developing nervous system.

x shark

x swordfish

x marlin

* Limit your intake of tuna if you are pregnant or trying to conceive, because it also contains high levels of mercury. Don't eat more than two tuna steaks a week (each weighing 170 g raw or 140 g cooked) or four medium-sized cans a week (140 g a can when drained).

* Limit your intake of oily fish, such as fresh tuna, salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, pilchards and trout, to two portions a week. This is due to the pollutants they may contain. However, the health benefits of oily fish outweigh the risks if you stay within the recommended amount.

* Don't eat more than two portions a week of the following fish either – sea bass, sea bream, crab, halibut, turbot and dogfish – due to the risks of pollutants.

* Don't eat raw shellfish as it can cause food poisoning. It's considered safe to eat shellfish providing it's been thoroughly cooked as viruses and bacteria are usually killed through cooking. However, some toxins may not be completely removed by cooking. With this in mind, you may choose to avoid shellfish completely during your pregnancy.

* Avoid sushi containing raw shellfish. During pregnancy, you should only eat cooked shellfish (see advice above).


Excerpted from The Dos and Don'ts of Pregnancy by Louise Baty. Copyright © 2015 Summersdale Publishers Ltd. Excerpted by permission of Summersdale Publishers Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Title Page,
Chapter 1 – The Dos and Don'ts for Dietary Health Pre-pregnancy and for the Whole Nine Months,
Chapter 2 – The Dos and Don'ts for General Health and Lifestyle Pre-pregnancy and for the Whole Nine Months,
Chapter 3 – The Dos and Don'ts for the First Trimester,
Chapter 4 – The Dos and Don'ts for the Second Trimester,
Chapter 5 – The Dos and Don'ts for the Third Trimester,
Chapter 6 – The Dos and Don'ts for Preparing for Giving Birth,
Chapter 7 – Possible Health Problems during Pregnancy,

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