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#ReadyforPregnancy - the importance of healthy diet and weight

The importance of a good diet and being of a healthy weight is this month’s focus for a regional prepregnancy preparation campaign.

Launched at the start of last month, the year-long #Readyforpregnancy campaign aims to encourage women across East Berkshire, North East Hampshire and Farnham and Surrey Heath to get fit and healthy before they try for a baby.

Each month will focus on a different aspect of health.

In addition to exercising regularly, (June’s focus), eating a healthy, nutritious diet is important when planning for a pregnancy as your baby needs the right balance of nutrients to grow and develop.

Having a raised body mass index (BMI) can affect the way a baby develops in the womb and can also increase the risk of miscarriage. Being overweight can also make it more likely that your baby will be larger, raising the chances of complications at birth.*

Consultant Gynaecologist & Obstetrician, Dr Anne Deans, who is also the Chief of Service Obstetrics and Gynaecology for Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, said: “There is a clear link between a mother’s health before pregnancy, the risks she is exposed to or exposes herself to, and her baby’s health. We know that healthy women have fewer complications in pregnancy are more likely to have healthy babies, who grow into healthy children. Partners also have a role to play by staying healthy.

“When it comes to healthy eating, you don't need to spend lots of money, or go on a special diet – you just need a balance of the right types of food to prepare you for pregnancy and keep you healthy and help your baby grow and develop.

“You should aim to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day. Fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced can be part of your daily allowance – try to avoid anything with added salt or sugar.

“It’s also a good idea to cut down on salt during pregnancy as consuming too much can raise your blood pressure, increasing your risk of developing heart disease or stroke.”

#Readyforpregnancy has been created with the help of local women and families via Maternity Voices Partnership, an independent NHS advisory group run by local women that works with staff at hospital maternity departments, and other bodies such as Healthwatch, to ensure the service is tailored to local need by listening to families’ feedback.

Emma Taylor, representing Maternity Voices Partnerships in the Thames Valley area, said: “We are really excited about this campaign to raise awareness of the importance of becoming healthy before trying to have a baby. Women often don’t realise how their health at the start of their pregnancy will affect their choices around birth at the end of pregnancy, or how their health before pregnancy might affect their baby’s health.

Ms Taylor, who also represents women and families on the national Maternity Transformation Programme, added: “It’s so important that women have all the information they need to make their own informed choices before and during pregnancy, and this campaign will help them to make small changes that will make big differences to both them and their baby.”

In addition to the monthly focuses, the campaign will promote the ‘Planning for pregnancy’ online tool developed by Tommy’s charity to give women/couples all they need to know about how to improve the health of their future pregnancy and child.

The campaign will run on social media. Follow twitter.com/FrimleyHC or www.facebook.com/FrimleyHealthandCare

For more information, please visit www.frimleyhealthandcare.org.uk/readyforpregnancy

*Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists: www.rcog.org.uk/en/patients/patient-leaflets/being-overweight-pregnancy-after-birth/

Frimley Health and Care