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Saturday, 5 September, 1998, 23:02 GMT 00:02 UK
The lowdown on having a healthy pregnancy
Baby eating chocolate
A baby tucks in, but pregnant women should watch their diet
Pregnancy is hard work despite all the images of blooming mothers-to-be.

All your organs are squashed up into your throat, you can hardly walk and you may get double vision.

And then there is the stress of worrying about the future health of your baby.

As part of National Pregnancy Week, beginning on 6 September, childbirth charity Tommy's Campaign and Boots the Chemists are publishing a guide to how expectant mothers and babies can keep healthy.

The top 10 tips are:

  • Eat a balanced diet, including cereals, bread, oily fish and cooked eggs.

  • Stay clear of raw eggs, soft, unpasteurised cheese, pate and uncooked meat.

    Pregnant women should also avoid eating too many foods high in vitamin A, such as liver and dairy products, in combination with multi-vitamin supplements which include vitamin A.

    Excessive doses of vitamin A have been shown to be a risk factor for heart defects and cleft palates in babies, but too little is also harmful to a baby's health.

  • Both men and women trying for a baby should consider stopping smoking as research shows an increased risk of health problems for unborn babies. Smoking is also believed to have an effect on male fertility.

    Recent research shows that the babies of women who smoke during pregnancy have a greater risk of developing cancer in later life.

  • Women should take folic acid supplements in the weeks leading up to conception and after conception. This can reduce the chance of birth defects, such as Spina Bifida.

    The recommended daily dose is 400 microgrammes. Too much folic acid can be harmful. The vitamin is found in beans and green, leafy vegetables.

  • Pregnant women should cut down on the amount of alcohol they drink as excessive amounts can be risky for the foetus. One or two units a week is the recommended limit.

  • Pregnant women should contact their GP if they are worried about complications, such as bleeding, swelling of the ankles, abdominal pain and headaches.

  • Expectant mothers should avoid prescribed drugs and over the counter medicines unless advised otherwise by their doctor. They should also avoid hard drugs.

  • Women should try to relax, particularly if they have had problems in previous pregnancies. Research shows exhaustive work can bring on premature labour.

  • Uncooked meat and cat litter should be avoided or handled carefully as there is a risk of contracting toxoplasmosis, an infection which can cause brain defects in an unborn child.

  • Regular visits to ante-natal clinics will allow pregnant women to get advice on how to stay healthy.

The booklets are available from GP surgeries, Boots shops and ante-natal clinics. Boots and Tommy's Campaign are also launching a website for expectant fathers.

This will feature the top 10 questions dads-to-be want answered.

According to a survey by Tommy's Campaign, these include whether it is safe to have sex during pregnancy, whether they will be put off by their partner's changing shape and whether they should attend the birth.

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