Top 3 tips for pregnancy with Dr Sarah Farrell

Top 3 tips for pregnancy with Dr Sarah Farrell

So you’ve just seen those two exciting lines… Congratulations! But now what?

As a GP with special interests in womens health and pregnancy here are my top 3 things to do when you find out you’re pregnant.

1. Book an appointment with your GP

I could probably end this list after this first point, as your GP is your absolute first point of call when you discover you are pregnant, and they are a wealth of knowledge and support for new mums, especially in these early days. When you see your GP, there is a whole host of things we do. We arrange blood and urine tests, check the dates of your pregnancy, and discuss whether a dating ultrasound scan may be needed. We check your vaccination record, talk you through the various options of pregnancy care, and make appropriate referrals depending on your decision. We also review your medications and stop or change any that aren’t safe during pregnancy. We also take a minute to review your mental health history, check in about your current mental health and support network, and finally review your lifestyle and advise any changes that might be needed. It’s a lot! So don’t be surprised if it takes a few appointments.

2. Start (or ideally continue) taking a prenatal supplement.
The development of your little one’s brain and organs starts as early as 3 weeks after conception, so it’s very important that this process is supported with enough folic acid, iodine, choline, and DHA from your diet and prenatal supplement. If you’re not sure which one to take, your pharmacist or GP will be able to guide you.

3. Learn about the do’s and don’ts of pregnancy.
One of the challenges of pregnancy is following the recommended restrictions to keep you and your baby healthy. While these restrictions can be tiresome, they are important to follow from the beginning of pregnancy. These include: What you should and shouldn’t eat.

One of the most common questions I get asked is, “Can I eat this during pregnancy?” and “Why can’t I have French cheese when pregnant?” While it may seem cruel, and you may hear from older generations that “that wasn’t a thing in my day,” the food recommendations during pregnancy are in place to protect you and your baby. During pregnancy, you have lower immunity, so you may be at a greater risk of bacterial and parasitic infections from foods. These recommendations also minimize the risk of toxin and heavy metal (mercury) exposure to your unborn baby. To simplify, I advise my patients to follow the “traffic light advice” from the NSW Food Authority website. Just as important as what not to eat is ensuring you have a balanced, varied, and delicious diet to get you through the next 9 months. Your GP can help guide you with this, or if you need to make significant changes, an appointment with a dietitian can be really helpful.

Can you and should you exercise? The recommendations around exercise during pregnancy have changed in recent years, and we now encourage women to exercise as normal, aiming for 30 minutes a day, 4-5 days a week of moderate-intensity exercise. This brings the most benefit to both mum and baby! The only restrictions are exercising on your back in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, and ensuring you’re exercising within your own limits. Pregnancy is not the time to be breaking personal records.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom – I often get questions from women who have been misinformed about restrictions in pregnancy, and I have the joy of being able to tell them that yes, they can…

– Travel (up to a certain gestation)
– Have sex (if you want to)
– Practice yoga/cycle/run/swim/HIIT
– Get your hair dyed – Drink one small coffee a day
– And you can definitely pat your cat (you just can’t change their litter box… finally a perk of pregnancy!)

And that’s it, my top 3 things to do when you find out you’re pregnant!

Congratulations and good luck!