Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Do I need to increase my food intake?  
  2. Why is folate (Folic Acid) important? 
  3. Can I continue to smoke or drink alcohol? 
  4. Can I take medications while I’m pregnant? 
  5. Can I continue to exercise? 
  6. Can I travel whilst pregnant? 

  1. Do I need to increase my food intake?
    During pregnancy, eating healthy foods is more important than ever. A pregnant woman will need more protein, iron, calcium and folate than what she needs before her pregnancy. However, most women do not need extra calories for the first 6 months of pregnancy and only require approximately 200 extra calories per day during the last 3 months. Most women gain between 9 - 13 kg during pregnancy.

    Healthy foods
    Foods should contain certain key components necessary for growth and development:
    • Iron - green leafy vegetables, red meat, beans
    • Calcium - dairy produce, fish with edible bones like sardines and bread
    • Folate -green beans, oranges, spinach, kale or broccoli
    Try to eat something from the following food groups daily:
    • Fresh fruit and vegetables: 4 - 6 servings/day
    • Bread, rice, breakfast cereals, potatoes: at least 1 serving at each meal and 4 servings/day
    • Lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, pulses and nuts: 2 - 3 servings/day
    • Dairy products: 2 - 3 servings/day
    Try to avoid the following as they might make you sick or harm the baby:
    • Raw eggs which contain salmonella
    • Home-made mayonnaise and ice-cream
    • Blue cheese
    • Liver or pates
    • Raw or undercooked meat
    • Raw shellfish
    • Soft cheese and unpasteurized milk
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  3. Why is folate (Folic Acid) important?
    Folate is a B vitamin crucial in the development of baby's nervous system. It reduces the risk of certain birth defects such as spina bifida, a disability affecting the nervous disorder. Foods that contain folate include green leafy vegetables, fruits, dried beans, peas and nuts. As folate is easily destroyed during the cooking process and large servings are necessary for adequate intake, the simplest way is to take a folate supplement (one 5mg tablet daily) for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. 
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  5. Can I continue to smoke or drink alcohol?
    Smoking may cause an increased risk of miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies, placental bleeding as well as low birth weight babies and premature births. There is also a long-term relationship with decreased intellectual development of the babies and increased risk of Sudden Infant Death. You should therefore try to stop or cut down on your smoking.

    In the case of alcohol, consumption of 15 units (1 unit = 1 small glass of wine) or more per week has been associated with a reduction in birth weight whilst consumption of 20 units or more per week has been associated with intellectual impairment in children and foetal anomaly. It is recommended that women should be careful about alcohol consumption in pregnancy and limit this to no more than one standard drink per day.
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  7. Can I take medications while I’m pregnant?
    Pregnant women are advised to discuss all medications use with your GP or obstetrician. It is best to avoid all medications, unless the medications are necessary and recommended by the doctor. This is especially so during the first few months of pregnancy when the baby’s organs are developing as certain drugs are known to affect foetal development. You should also avoid herbal preparations and common over-the-counter medications which may interfere with the normal development of the growing baby. Click here to see list of medicines that can be used during pregnancy. 
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  9. Can I continue to exercise?
    Exercising not only energises you and has emotional benefits but also helps to combat back pain. Being active and fit during pregnancy makes it easier for you to adapt to your changing shape and weight gain. It also helps you to cope with the labour and get back to shape after birth. Twenty minutes three times a week should provide you with sufficient exercise.

    Swimming and walking are two of the best activities. Remember to spend time warming up before starting and to allow your body to cool down later by stretching for at least 10 minutes. Foot exercises are helpful in improving circulation and swollen ankles, whilst pelvic rocking strengthens muscles and eases backaches. Pelvic floor exercises also help to reduce the risk of stress incontinence (urine leakage) after the birth. The use of saunas and spas in pregnancy should be done in moderation during pregnancy.
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  11. Can I travel whilst pregnant? 

    Traveling by air poses no additional risks in an uncomplicated pregnancy. Domestic travel is usually permitted until 36 weeks gestation whereas international travel may be curtailed after the 32nd week of pregnancy. The best time to travel will be in the middle of the pregnancy – between 14 weeks and 28 weeks, as this is the time when you probably feel the best and the risks of miscarriage and pre-term labour are the lowest.

    When you travel, it is advisable to promote blood circulation by taking occasional walks along the aisles; and flexing and extending the ankles while sitting. The low humidity in the plane cabin can also leads to dehydration so do make sure that you drink plenty of water.

    Certain conditions like severe anaemia (low blood count) or a low-lying placenta are relative contraindications to flying. It is important to seek a medical assessment before you travel.

    Click here to read more on Travel & Pregnancy.

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