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Pregnancy Q&A: 5 common questions, answered

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From which types of exercise you can do to the foods you should avoid, we’ve got the answers to your key pregnancy questions.

There’s nothing quite like pregnancy to send you down a rabbit hole of Googling what you should or shouldn’t be doing to ensure you and bub stay healthy. 

We’ve rounded up some of the top pregnancy questions and answers to help get you started.

1. What type of exercise is okay during pregnancy?

Brisk walking, swimming and water workouts, modified yoga and Pilates, and stationary cycling are the exercises considered suitable for pregnant women. 

That said, if for instance you ran, jogged or played racquet sports prior to pregnancy, you can likely continue doing so, just check with your GP or obstetrician first. 

Types of exercise to avoid include contact sports or activities with a risk of falling (such as rollerblading or horse riding) and scuba diving. 

After the first trimester you should avoid exercises lying on your back and, in the later stages of pregnancy, activities that involve jumping, frequent changes of direction and excessive stretching, such as gymnastics. 

2. What nutrients are recommended during pregnancy?

There are several nutrients that are particularly important during pregnancy, where supplementation may be required to ensure you meet your needs. 

Folic acid, or folate, helps to prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida and/or anencephaly if taken daily for one month prior to conception and during the first trimester of pregnancy. 

Iodine is an important nutrient for baby’s brain development. Iodine supplementation of 150 micrograms per day is recommended for women you are planning a pregnancy, throughout pregnancy and when breastfeeding. 

Your requirements for iron increase during pregnancy, however it is important to chat to your GP about whether or not you’re meeting your daily requirement, or if you could benefit from supplementation.
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3. What helps relieve morning sickness?

Thought to be caused by a combination of factors such as high levels of hormones and fluctuations in blood pressure and blood glucose levels, morning sickness can occur at any time of the day or night. 

It can help to eat a few crackers or some dry toast as soon as you get out of bed in the morning, as well as eating small meals regularly and drinking plenty of fluids. 

Herbal teas (especially peppermint and ginger), may also help. Getting outdoors for a dose of fresh air is also thought to work for some women too.

4. Which foods should I avoid during pregnancy?

There are certain foods you should stay away from, mostly because of the risk of harmful bacteria such as listeria or salmonella. 

On the ‘avoid’ list are:
  • Processed meats such as ham and salami (unless cooked to at least 75°C and eaten soon afterwards)
  • Raw meat, raw seafood or ready-to-eat chilled prawns
  • Cold chicken or turkey from sandwich bars
  • Refrigerated pâté or meat spreads
  • Store-bought sushi
  • Soft and semi-soft cheese such as ricotta and fetta (unless cooked to at least 75°C and eaten immediately)
  • Soft-serve or fried ice cream
  • Unpasteurised dairy
  • Raw eggs (in homemade mayo for example)
  • Pre-prepared salads
  • Rockmelon
  • Bean sprouts

5. How can I sleep better when pregnant?

It’s pretty normal to feel tired during pregnancy, although factors such as waking up more often to pee, indigestion, irregular leg movements, back pain and congestion associated with late-term pregnancy can make quality shut-eye feel elusive. 

To improve your slumber, avoid drinking too much liquid in the evening, limit your caffeine intake and develop a relaxing bedtime routine. 

Elevating your head on extra pillows can help with indigestion and breathing difficulty and sleeping on your side with a supportive maternity pillow can aid comfort.