Page last updated at 23:05 GMT, Monday, 1 September 2008 00:05 UK

Mums-to-be confused over advice

Pregnancy can be a confusing time

There is widespread confusion among mums-to-be about pregnancy health, largely compounded by conflicting information, a survey reveals.

A third of the 1,303 women polled by Tommy's and Johnson's Baby were confused by what you can eat and which drugs are safe to take in pregnancy.

Others did not know whether it was safe to have sex, drink alcohol, dye their hair or get on a plane when pregnant.

Nearly half said they had received conflicting pregnancy advice.

Sharon Simms, a midwife and spokeswoman for Tommy's, said: "Research is revealing new findings all the time about the best ways for women to keep their babies healthy, so it is vital that mums-to-be get the most up-to-date information from both their midwife and other credible sources.

It is vital that mums-to-be get the most up to date information from both their midwife and other credible sources
Sharon Simms, a midwife and spokeswoman for Tommy's

"Whilst it is reassuring for women to speak to family and friends about their pregnancy, times have moved on. What was considered right for our parents' generation may no longer still be the case."

Rosie Dodds of the National Childbirth Trust said: "Women are bombarded with information in early pregnancy and it can be difficult to make sense of how important it is to you personally.

"Ideally, midwives are the key source of information in pregnancy but they are often short of time.

"There is a lot of information available online, but it is important to use credible sources."

Things pregnant women are confused about
What is safe to eat?
How much alcohol can you drink?
What drugs are safe to take?
Is it OK to have sex?
Is it OK to travel by plane?
Is it safe to dye your hair?

Tommy's is launching its Let's Talk Baby campaign which aims to empower pregnant women by bringing the realities of pregnancy into the open, and making impartial, expert pregnancy health information available to all.

The survey also revealed that one in three women had experienced unexpected physical changes, with as many as one in six feeling too embarrassed to share them with anyone.

These included bladder problems, constipation and increased body hair.

Although embarrassing and unwanted, such problems are common in pregnancy, will not harm the baby and often can be treated or managed.

Current advice

Embarrassing changes
Memory loss
Mood swings
Bladder weakness
Constipation and flatulence
Breast leakage
Increased body hair or hair loss
Sweating and body odour

The government says pregnant women or women trying to conceive should avoid drinking alcohol.

If they do choose to drink, to protect the baby they should not drink more than one to two units of alcohol once or twice a week and should not get drunk.

Experts say there is no real evidence that dying your hair can damage your baby. However, it is a good idea to minimise any contact with chemicals during early pregnancy, and therefore best avoid colouring your hair in the first 12 weeks.

Some airlines will let you fly up to 36 weeks if you have a doctor's letter to say that you are fit enough.

Sex is safe during pregnancy unless your doctor advises you against it because of a medical problem.

Doubts over pregnancy drink ban
26 Oct 07 |  Health

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