Health & Wellness During and After Pregnancy

Verity Harper

Regular prenatal checkups

As soon as you know you're pregnant, or you think you might be, you need to arrange a visit with your midwife or doctor. You will find that you will have numerous checkups with your midwife or doctor during your pregnancy. Make sure that you do not miss any of your appointments as they are all important.

Prenatal care

Health care during your pregnancy is called prenatal care, it is important that you receive this as it can help you have a healthier baby and also will lower the risk of your baby being born prematurely, which in turn could lead to your baby having health problems.

Pregnancy

During your pregnancy, your midwife or doctor will recommend that you have medical tests, this is something that all women need as part of their routine prenatal care. It is important to have these tests as they provide important information about your baby and you. 

You will be required to give either a sample of blood or urine and these will be checked for the following conditions: urinary tract infection, HIV, blood type and Rh factor, group B strep, syphilis, signs of past German measles, otherwise known as rubella, and hepatitis B.

If you are under the age of 24 and deemed to have other factors that would put your health at risk, your midwife or doctor may also check for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Your midwife or doctor will also regularly check your blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure it can be a sign that you have preeclampsia, this is a health problem that some women develop during pregnancy. 


Preeclampsia is characterised by damage to other organs, usually the liver and kidneys, and of course a high blood pressure. Preeclampsia usually starts after the first 20 weeks of pregnancy and it can happen to women whose blood pressure had been previously normal.

It is important that you undergo all the medical tests that your midwife or doctor has recommended; early treatment cannot only cure many problems but will also prevent other problems from occurring.

Drinking and tobacco

Smoking and drinking alcohol is not recommended during your pregnancy and it is better if you can avoid these - no amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy. If you drink tea or coffee, then it is better to choose decaf and also avoid any drinks that have a high sugar content. The Original Tea Company have a range of teas for women in their first, second and third trimester of their pregnancy.

Eat 200 to 300 grams of seafood each week.

Shellfish and fish contain healthy fats that are beneficial for you and your baby. Unfortunately some fish is high in mercury, which can harm your baby’s development. So aim to eat seafood that is low in mercury but high in healthy fats. The following seafoods are low in mercury: cod, salmon, shrimp, catfish, herring, oysters, shad and trout.

The following seafoods are to be avoided as they are high in mercury: marlin, shark, tilefish, bigeye tuna, orange roughy, shark, king mackerel or swordfish.

Folic acid

During your pregnancy, it is important that you consume more nutrients like folic acid, iron, protein and iodine. You will also need to make sure that you are getting enough calcium.

Folic acid will protect your unborn baby against serious defects called neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, by up to 70 percent. These defects happen in the first few weeks of pregnancy. Also, folic acid might also prevent miscarriage and other possible types of birth defects. Not consuming enough folic acid can lead to a condition known as folate-defiency anemia, this is where the red blood cells are not forming and growing as they should be. This anemia is more prevalent among women of child bearing age than men.

Certain foods such as beans, nuts, breads, spinach, cereals and pasta contain folic acid. However, it is recommended that you take a prenatal vitamin every day, this should contain iodine, iron and folic acid. You will need about 400 micrograms (0.4 milligrams) of folic acid every day one month before pregnancy starts and 600 to 800 micrograms (0.6 to 0.8 milligrams) during pregnancy.

For some women, consuming too much folic acid may hide a B-12 deficiency, which can be a problem sometimes for vegetarians. Ask your midwife or doctor if you think you may be at risk.



After pregnancy

Breastfeeding or bottle feeding is of course something you will need to decide upon and it can be useful to discuss this with your midwife. Some women however do not produce enough breast milk; the good news is that there is a tea from The Original Tea Company that will help enable mothers to produce more milk.

Depression

Many women are at increased risk for depression both during and after their pregnancy. If you are suffering from depression, or you think you will be, then it is important to talk about this with your doctor and he/she can discuss with you whether you need counselling to help prevent it. 

The depression that occurs after the birth of a baby is called 'baby blues', it's nothing to get over anxious about as most new mothers get 'baby blues'. The symptoms can include anxiety, mood swings, crying and difficulty sleeping. These symptoms usually begin within the first two to three days after the baby is born and may last for up to two weeks. Some mothers however suffer from what is known as postpartum depression, this can last up to the first year after birth. You may find the following video helpful.


Unfortunately, some mothers experience a more severe and long-lasting form of depression after childbirth, and in rare cases, an extreme mood disorder called postpartum psychosis. The following video is one woman's story about her depression.