A-Z of pregnancy and nutrition: A is for...

Just found out that you are pregnant? Congratulations! We're sure you have a *lot* of questions about the journey to motherhood, so here's our new pregnancy A-Z

Pregnancy is a time of many new sensations, symptoms and experiences and most new mums to be are keen to find out everything they possibly can.

So we've developed a new A-Z of pregnancy to provide many of the really important answers for mums-to-be. We're going to be covering everything from alcohol to weight gain to cravings and vitamin supplements.

So if you're pregnant, settle down for a read. Here's the first instalment of our pregnancy A-Z, with everything related to the letter A:

Alcohol: There is no agreed safe intake of alcohol during pregnancy. Women who are pregnant should avoid drinking alcohol, however those who choose to drink before and during pregnancy are recommended to drink no more than 1 to 2 units of alcohol once or twice a week, and not binge drink or get drunk. 1 unit is half a pint of standard strength (3.5% strength) beer or lager, a single measure (25ml of spirit) e.g. vodka and gin or a small glass (125ml) of wine. Alcopops contain 1.5 units.

Amniocentesis: Amniocentesis is one of several diagnostic tests that may be offered during pregnancy. It is used to detect chromosome abnormalities in the unborn child that may cause Down’s Syndrome or other congenital problems. In amniocentesis, a sample of the amniotic fluid that surrounds the foetus is removed and analysed. This test is performed from week 15 of pregnancy onwards.

Anaemia: Anaemia is characterised by a low level of a substance called haemoglobin which contains iron and is responsible for transporting oxygen in red blood cells. During pregnancy, anaemia is quite common because the demands for iron change, so routine blood tests are carried out during pregnancy to check if you will need iron supplements. It is important that pregnant women eat an iron-rich diet to ensure the production of extra red blood cells so that the foetus and placenta receive enough oxygen. Iron rich foods include red meats, fortified breakfast cereals, dried fruits, pulses and bread.

Antacid: Antacids counteract stomach acidity and are often used as a treatment for heartburn. Heartburn occurs as a result of increased abdominal pressure, relaxation of the gastro-oesophageal sphincter due to pregnancy hormones and altered gastrointestinal function. Symptoms are often aggravated by lying down, or by eating certain foods, particularly those that are spicy, fatty, fizzy or acidic. Symptoms will often be less severe with small frequent meals and snacks rather than larger meals. Avoid spicy or fatty foods, eating just before bedtime and try to limit the use of antacids to manufacturers’ directions.

Antenatal care: Antenatal care means ‘care before birth.’ It aims to monitor and promote the wellbeing of a mother and her developing baby. Midwives and doctors provide information, advice and reassurance as well as monitoring, screening and treating where necessary. We have a separate series of posts where we asked our midwife about pregnancy and these posts includes on on what to expect from antenatal care.

Aspirin: Aspirin is generally not considered safe to take during pregnancy as regular use may cause problems for both you and your baby. If you are taking aspirin before pregnancy for a specific medical condition then you should speak to your GP or midwife as early as possible for advice on whether you should continue. Effects include miscarriage, issues with foetal growth, bleeding problems for you or the baby and heart or lung related problems in a newborn baby, e.g. such as closing of blood vessels near the heart. However, there are certain situations where a doctor may advise a low dose of aspirin during pregnancy. Remember to always follow your doctor’s advice.

We'll be back soon with the rest of our Pregnancy A-Z and alphabet of updates. Remember this is only a guide, so if you have any further questions, make sure you ask your midwife or GP. Make sure you also read our birth story round-up and what to pack in your hospital bag.

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