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Your lifestyle and wellbeing during pregnancy

Promoting smoke free pregnancies and homes

  • You are 4 times more likely to stop smoking with your local NHS stop smoking service.
  • It is important that you have all the information you need to make decisions about your health, your family’s health, and the health of your new baby
  • Carbon monoxide (a gas from smoking) passes into the baby’s blood. This lowers the amount of oxygen that gets to your baby. This can stop your baby from growing properly. It can cause you to give birth too early.
  • Some babies have sadly died from the effects of smoking in pregnancy.
  • If you stop smoking, you are more likely to have a full-term healthy baby.

Your midwife understands how difficult this can be. They will talk to you about how they can help. They can arrange specialist support, along with free nicotine replacement therapy, to help you quit.

You can refer yourself or your midwife can refer you to the local Stop Smoking Service. This includes a team of specialist advisors who will visit you at home or wherever is best for you. They are also very happy to help your partner, family and friends, as this can be very important for the success of your quit attempt. They can find the right nicotine replacement products for you.

If you live in Leicester City – contact Live Well Leicester on 0116 454 4000 or visit the website Stopping Smoking – Live Well Leicester

If you live in Leicestershire – contact Quit Ready Leicestershire on 0345 646 6666 or visit the Quit Ready website

Working during pregnancy

For most people it is safe to carry on working during pregnancy.

There is no set guidance about when you should let your employer know you are pregnant. Depending on your job, you may need to check if there is any health and safety advice you want to think about. Click here to find more information from the Health and Safety Executive.

From around 20 weeks, your employer will ask you for a MAT B 1 form that your midwife will fill out for you. Your midwife will give this to you at your routine appointment. You will need to keep this safe.

Nutritional supplements

You should take folic acid when you are planning to have a baby and up until 12 weeks of pregnancy. This reduces the risk of your baby having a problem with their spine (spina bifida/neural tube defect). The recommended dose is 400 micrograms per day. If your BMI is 30 or above, you should take 5 milligrams per day.

You do not need to take any iron tablets unless you have been told to do so by your midwife or doctor. They may suggest iron supplements if your iron levels drop too low.

Taking vitamin A supplements (intake above 700 micrograms) might be harmful to your baby’s development so do not take these. Liver and liver products may also contain high levels of vitamin A, so these should also not be taken.

It is important for your own and your baby’s health to keep up vitamin D stores during pregnancy and during breastfeeding. You may choose to take 400-800iud per day. This is recommended for everyone who is pregnant. If your BMI is more than 30, you should take 1000iud per day of Vitamin D.

There are some people at more risk including:

  • If you are of South Asian, African, Caribbean, or Middle Eastern family origin
  • If you have reduced exposure to sunlight (if you are mainly housebound, or usually stay covered when outdoors)
  • If you eat a diet low in vitamin D (have no oily fish, eggs, meat, vitamin D-fortified margarine or breakfast cereal)
  • If you had a BMI above 30 before pregnancy

Click here to find out more about vitamins, minerals and supplements during pregnancy.

Food-acquired infections

There are some foods which are best to avoid during your pregnancy as they can cause listeriosis (serious bacterial infection):

  • Unpasteurised or UHT milk.
  • Ripened soft cheese such as camembert, brie, and blue-veined cheese. There is no risk with hard cheeses, such as cheddar, or cottage cheese and processed cheese.
  • Pâté (of any sort, along with vegetable pâté).
  • Uncooked or undercooked ready-prepared meals.

You can reduce the risk of salmonella infection by:

  • avoiding raw or partially cooked eggs or food that may contain them (such as mayonnaise)
  • avoiding raw or partially cooked meat, especially poultry.

Click here for more information on foods to avoid during pregnancy.

Having sex

If your pregnancy is progressing normally, there is no reason to worry about continuing a normal sexual relationship. If you have any complications, such as bleeding or discharge, please consult a health professional.


Being active in pregnancy is important and has many benefits. Activity can include walking, yoga and swimming. It is recommended that you do pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy to help strengthen this group of muscles.

How to do pelvic floor exercises:

  • Make yourself comfortable by sitting or lying down with your knees bent
  • Squeeze in and tighten the muscles around your back passage, as if you were trying to stop yourself from peeing
  • Breathe in as you squeeze in and tighten the muscles, and then breathe out while relaxing the muscles
  • At first, try to do this exercise quickly
  • Then do it slowly, holding the squeezes for as long as you can before you relax. Try to count to 10
  • Try to do three sets of eight squeezes every day. To help you remember, you could do a set at each meal


The advice if you are pregnant is to go to sleep on your side for any episode of sleep in the third trimester, including:

  • going to sleep at night
  • going back to sleep after waking up in the night
  • daytime naps

As the going-to-sleep position is the one held longest during the night, you should not be concerned if you wake up on your back. Simply roll back onto your side.

Tips for going to sleep on your side in the last 3 months of pregnancy

  • Put a pillow or pillows behind your back to help with side-sleeping.
  • If you wake during the night, check your position, and go back to sleep on your side.
  • Pay the same attention to sleep position during the day as you would during the night.

Click here to find more sleep advice during pregnancy.

This video was not produced by Health for Under 5s and may contain adverts.

Health and Wellbeing Clinic

It is known that pregnant people who are obese have a bigger risk of problems in pregnancy, like diabetes, pre-eclampsia and blood clotting events. There is also a bigger risk of caesarean birth and problems with anaesthetic (having an epidural or being put to sleep).

Those who have a Body Mass Index of 40 or more or have had Bariatric Surgery will be referred to University of Hospitals Leicester’s Health and Wellbeing Clinic. At the clinic, plans for your pregnancy will be made to reduce any risks to you and your baby.

The Health & Wellbeing Care Team will offer you the following additional care:

  • You will have a telephone appointment around 14 to 16 weeks of pregnancy. This is to discuss
    • healthy eating
    • exercise
    • check recommended vitamins or medications have been started
  • If you live in Leicestershire, you will be referred to the Weight Management Programme. You will also be given information about screening tests for gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. You will have a review for your risk of blood clots.
  • You will get an appointment to see an Anaesthetist and will have extra growth scans for your baby.
  • A Consultant Obstetrician in the General Obstetric Clinic will see you.
  • You will have another appointment around 36 weeks with the Health and Wellbeing Team to discuss plans for birth. This will include a Bariatric Assessment if you have a BMI of 50 or more
ChatHealth Logo

Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust runs a confidential secure text messaging service for parents of children aged 0-19 years called Chat Health. The service operates Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm, excluding bank holidays. All texts will be responded to by a public health nurse (health visitor/school nurse) within 24 hours. Outside of the service working hours, you’ll receive a message back to inform you that your text will be responded to once the line reopens.

Should you require urgent health advice in the meantime, please contact your GP, visit an NHS walk-in centre or call NHS 111. For emergencies, dial 999 or visit A&E.

Page last reviewed: 06-12-2023

Next review due: 06-12-2026