Pregnancy FAQ

The earliest and most reliable sign of pregnancy is a missed period. If you have a regular monthly cycle, normally you get your period about 4 weeks from the start of your last period.
Take a home pregnancy test:
To find out if you're pregnant, you can do a pregnancy test from the first day you miss your period. Home pregnancy tests are very reliable, but see your GP to be sure and also to start your antenatal care.

There isn't a specific time when pregnancy food cravings start. It's different for every woman – and you may not necessarily have any cravings. If you do start having cravings, it'll probably be in your first trimester (it could be as early as 5 weeks into pregnancy). They'll get stronger in your second trimester, and then eventually stop in your third trimester. Cravings come in all shapes and sizes. Some women crave fatty foods like chips. Others get pregnancy cravings for things they didn't like before they got pregnant, or strange combinations of food such as mars bars with bacon. Try to eat as healthily as possible – keep those unhealthy temptations to a minimum! If you find yourself craving things that aren't food, like toothpaste, coal or even soil, speak to your midwife or doctor, as this may be a sign of a vitamin deficiency.

Weight gain in pregnancy varies from person to person. It also depends on your weight before you become pregnant. Most pregnant women gain between 10kg and 12.5kg (22lb to 26lb), putting on most of the weight after week 20. Much of the extra weight is due to your baby growing, but your body will also be storing fat, ready to make breast milk after your baby is born. Putting on too much or too little weight while you're pregnant can lead to health problems for you or your unborn baby. But don't worry, it's easy to make healthy food choices. Find out what to eat when pregnant and what foods to avoid.

You'll get most of the vitamins and minerals you need by eating a healthy, varied diet. But when you're pregnant (and while you are trying to get pregnant) you also need to take a folic acid supplement. It's also recommended you take a daily vitamin D supplement – especially in the winter months (October to March) when you don't get enough from the sunlight. Along with the vitamins you should take, there are also some to watch out for and avoid. You should avoid supplements and multivitamins containing vitamin A (retinol) – as too much of it can harm your baby's development. You should also avoid liver and liver products (including fish liver oil), as they are high in vitamin A. Find out more about vitamins and supplements in pregnancy.

Keeping active and doing exercise while you're pregnant is great for you and your baby. You can keep up your normal level of daily activity and exercise regime, as long as it still feels comfortable.

Here are some tips for exercising while pregnant:

  • You should be able to hold a conversation while you exercise.

  • Always warm up and cool down to keep you from pulling any muscles.

  • Stay hydrated - drink lots of water.

  • If you want to do an exercise class, make sure the teacher is properly qualified and let them know you're pregnant.

  • Swimming is a great exercise in pregnancy, as the water supports your body weight. Ask if your local pool offers aquanatal classes.

  • Other good activities to try while pregnant include walking, running, yoga, pilates, aerobics and pelvic floor exercises.

  • Some exercises, like running and weight training, will need to be modified as your belly grows.

Depending on how you normally like to snooze, you might have to rethink your favourite position while you're pregnant. If you sleep on your back, it's safe to continue during the first trimester, but as your bump gets bigger and heavier you'll need to sleep on your side, so it's best to get into the habit as soon as you can. By the third trimester (after 28 weeks of pregnancy), sleeping on your side is the safest position for your baby as it helps prevent the risk of stillbirth. Don't worry, if your pregnancy is uncomplicated your risk of stillbirth is low (1 in 200 babies are stillborn) and going to sleep on your side will make it even lower. It's ok if you end up in all sorts of positions when you are asleep. The important thing to remember is to fall asleep on your side, as this means you are sleeping safely for your baby. If you wake up on your back, don't be alarmed, just turn onto your side and go back to sleep. Try sleeping on one side with your knees bent, it'll help reduce the amount of pressure on your uterus and help you breathe better. Plus, this position can help relieve backache. You can use pillows under your belly, between your legs, and behind your back if you like.

You should go to sleep on your side whenever you have a snooze, including:

  • Going to sleep at night

  • Getting back to sleep, after waking up at night

  • Daytime naps