Lifestyle

During pregnancy you may generally continue to do what you did before. For instance working / sport / holiday / sex / driving, etc. It is, however, important that you listen to your body carefully and if there are any signs of stress, take a step back.

There are a number of living habits that could have a negative influence on your pregnancy, which are described further below.

Smoking

Smoking during pregnancy involves clear risks. Smoking yourself, but also being in a smoky environment may have an adverse influence on your pregnancy. Cigarettes contain harmful substances. They cause reduced placental blood flow and that means less oxygen supply to the baby.

Reduced placental blood flow and reduced oxygen supply may impede the baby’s growth. Children of smoking mothers therefore often have a (too) low birth weight and are often born prematurely in comparison to children of non-smokers. This may cause them to be more vulnerable. There is also an increased risk of a miscarriage or premature birth. During the first years of their lives children more often have respiratory diseases. There are indications that cot death occurs more often if people are smoking near the baby.

The advice to both parents is to stop smoking and avoid smoky environments as much as possible. For many people stopping is difficult. Yet stopping is better than reducing. This way you prevent taking up your old habit again. If you wish, you can discuss this with your midwife. For more information and help to stop smoking go to: babycenter.com

Alcohol

Using alcohol during pregnancy may be damaging for your unborn baby.

The increased risks for babies from mothers who used alcohol excessively/moderately include miscarriage, growth delay or congenital defect, premature birth or even stillbirth. The baby also has an increased risk of a mental handicap and learning difficulties. It is preferable not to use any alcohol from conception up to and including breastfeeding. For more information and help go to: babycenter.com

Medication

Self mediation is the use of medication and remedies not prescribed by a doctor or midwife. If you want to become pregnant and during pregnancy you have to be very careful when you use these. Always read the instruction leaflet and if in doubt consult your pharmacist whether that particular medicine can be used safely. This is important because some substances may affect the baby’s development early in the pregnancy.

It is useful to let your pharmacist know that you are pregnant. If  a medicine is issued the computer system used by the pharmacy immediately indicates whether or not this medicine may be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

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If you are suffering from any pains, you can use paracetamol without any risks. For the dose see the instruction leaflet. There is no objection during pregnancy to the use of anaesthetics if a dentist (or another physician) considers it necessary. Do tell the physician that you are pregnant.

Drugs

We strongly advise you not to use hard drugs (amphetamines, XTC, heroin and cocaine) during pregnancy.  We also advise you not to use soft drugs during pregnancy, also because they are used together with tobacco.

Hard drugs are certainly bad for an unborn baby. Through the use of heroin and other opiates, cocaine, amphetamines and probably XTC the baby also becomes addicted and needs to detox from the drugs after the birth.

Premature births happen often and the risk of death just before or just after birth is increased. Lack of oxygen may cause a delay in growth.

If you use drugs it is important to tell the midwife. Talk openly about it and do not be afraid to say what and how much you use. Together we can see what solutions are possible.

Radiation

If an X-ray examination is necessary during pregnancy, make it clear that you are pregnant. Sometimes the examination can be postponed until after the birth. In most cases it is possible to protect the womb so that the baby will receive as little radiation as possible. Screens and microwaves have not been proved to cause any harmful effects.

Sport and exercise

When you do exercise adjust your pace. Swimming, cycling and fitness are exercises that are ideal until the end of the pregnancy. It is best to avoid sports such as hockey, where you run the risk of getting something against your abdomen, or sports where you easily collide with people or could fall. For all these things the rule is: do what you always did, but less or stop if you notice any symptoms or if it makes you more tired than normal. Also try not to exert yourself more than you did before you were pregnant. Do make sure you take in plenty of liquid.

Sex

Sexual experiences during pregnancy are different for each woman. Some women feel more attractive and feel more like having sex than usual, while others experience the opposite. Complaints such as tiredness or nausea sometimes get in the way of sex. Painful tense breasts might get more painful during sexual excitement. There may be more need for intimacy and touching than sexual intercourse. For a normal pregnancy there are no do’s and don’ts with regard to your sex life. Sexual intercourse cannot cause any miscarriages or damage to the baby. Only if there is blood loss or your waters have broken would we not recommend having sexual intercourse. You can always discfuss any problems regarding your sex life with the midwife. This also applies to previous unpleasant sexual experiences or finding internal examinations difficult. If you let the midwife know, it can also be taking into consideration during the birth. Your midwife will usually enquire about this as well.

Going out to work

Going out to work in itself should not have any adverse influence on your pregnancy. Certain circumstances may, however, pose certain risks for the pregnancy. That is why there are various regulations for pregnant employees and employefes who have recently had a baby. These rules are laid down in, for instance, the Arbeidsomstandighedenwet (Working Conditions Act) and the ‘Besluit zwangere werkneemsters’ (Pregnant employees decree). Work where you are exposed to vibrations (lorries, agricultural machinery), ionising radiation (radiation from radioactive substances), chemical substances or infection risks is not beneficial to your health during pregnancy. This also applies to heavy physical work, such as frequent lifting, pulling, pushing or carrying. If you work in those conditions you have to consult your employer. The employer has to adjust your work and possibly offer you different work. You may also consult the company medical officer (‘Arbo-dienst’ (working conditions service)) or enquire at the ‘arbeidsinspectie’ (health and safety inspectorate). If you work nights or shifts, you can ask your employer to adjusft your working and resting hours during pregnancy. A pregnant woman is, in principle, not obliged to work nights. These rules also apply to the first six months after the birth. There are also rules for breastfeeding and working. If it is not possible to carry out your work in a healthy and safe manner by means of adjustments, the employer has to offer you different work temporarily. For more information http://english.szw.nl/

Holidays

If you are pregnant you can safely go on holiday. It is advisable to choose a holiday destination where good medical care can be provided if any unexpected complications should occur. In far away, tropical countries this is not always the case. Furthermore, in primitive circumstances it is easier to pick up an infectious disease that is coupled with, for example, high fever or diarrhoea. From a medical point of view there is no objection to travelling by plane. Airline companies often do not want to transport pregnant women after 30-34 weeks pregnancy, because they do not want to risk any births in the air. Check the terms and conditions with the company. It is not recommended to have a holiday at high altitude. There is less oxygen available due to the reduction in oxygen pressure in the air. It is advisable not to stay above 2000 metres for a long time. For more information: NKVB

Problems during pregnancy

When you are pregnant other problems may occur. Problems with regard to relationships, finances, housing or work, or negative (sexual) experiences from your youth or later may cause tension during the pregnancy. Talk about it with someone you trust, your partner, a good friend or a member of the family.

Also let your midwife know. The midwife may refer you to a specialist counsellor, if necessary