Pregnancy Guide

Welcome to one of the most exciting stages of your life! You're now a mum-to-be, and you're carrying the most precious little person in the world. Even though you haven't met her yet, your baby is already a huge part of your life and you are busy thinking about welcoming her to the family when the time is right.

As well as all the excitement thinking about your bundle of joy, you also need to remember to look after yourself, eat well, exercise and get enough rest. By giving you useful tips and common sense advice, we hope to guide you on your journey through pregnancy and motherhood.

Go well and remember if you would like more personalised advice, please contact our nutrition experts who are all registered health professionals and are happy to answer any questions you have.

  • First trimester: barely showing and fitting into regular jeans

    From the first day of your period, right through to the end of week 12, you’re in the 1st trimester. There are some common body changes that happen around this time, but bear in mind that no two pregnancies are identical. In other words, don’t worry if your experiences differ from the ones mentioned here, or from the ones your friends are talking about.

    First Trimester of pregnancy

    If at any time you do feel something isn’t right, the best thing to do is see your GP or lead maternity carer. Better to get it checked out to put your mind at ease.

    Morning sickness always hits me in the afternoon

    During your first trimester, you may experience nausea due to the surge of hormones during pregnancy. Known as morning sickness, it will generally peak around week 10, settling by weeks 12 &13.

    Nausea can actually occur at any time of the day, some people experiencing it throughout their pregnancy. Keep in mind that it will all pass, and try these ways to reduce the nausea.

    • Ginger is good for relieving nausea. Try ginger biscuits or ginger ale
    • Have a milky drink before bed
    • Try sniffing a fresh lemon. Citrus smells can help
    • Avoid tight waistbands – pressure on your tummy can often make you feel worse
    • Being tired can also add to feelings of nausea, make sure you get plenty of sleep
    • Eat small meals and snacks, rather than big meals. Toast and salty crackers are good.
    • Get out of bed slowly so your body doesn’t change positions too quickly. You can also try a cuppa and a small dry snack before you get up.

    Today’s a good day to unwind

    The first trimester means you’re in the most critical growth stage for your baby. It’s when all their tiny vital organs are forming. Your hormones will be going crazy, and it can take a toll on your energy levels. It’s perfectly normal to feel run down and emotional during the first trimester, so just relax and take it easy. Try catching up on some reading and DVDs – you’re more than entitled to some downtime!

    Gentle exercise works wonders

    You might find that light exercise actually increases your energy level. Sport NZ, in the 'Pregnancy and Activity' brochure, recommends that pregnant women engage in some moderate physical activity at least three times a week. Walking, jogging and swimming are all good options. You can also try yoga and low impact aerobics. Avoid anything so strenuous that it gets your heart racing as this could deprive your baby of oxygen. Now is not the time to start a strenuous exercise regime and always check with your GP or lead maternity carer before starting to exercise.

    Ditching the lace for comfy cotton

    During the first trimester your breasts may start to feel sore, swollen or tingly. Your body seems to act on its own as, even at this stage, it prepares for breastfeeding. Make sure you have some comfortable bras to get you through. If you were planning on buying new ones, just be aware that your breasts will continue to change so you may not want to splurge.

    My mouth seems to be watering all the time

    Excess saliva production can affect some mums-to-be. It’s basically a by-product of your changing hormone levels during pregnancy. It’s especially common in the first trimester, and when you have morning sickness. It won’t last forever, and in the meantime try sucking on a lolly to help you swallow.

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  • Second trimester: feeling good and moving into stretchy waistbands

    Stage two of your pregnancy is known as the second trimester, and it runs from around 13 to 27 weeks. Happily, the 2nd trimester is when a lot of mums-to-be really start to enjoy being pregnant. Your baby bump will become much more obvious, with any luck your morning sickness will be subsiding, and you might have more energy.

    Second Trimester of Pregnancy

    Stretching is all part of the process

    Stretch marks can be common for all women – and not just during pregnancy! This is definitely nothing to worry about, with your baby bump growing it’s inevitable that your skin will stretch a little. You might also get stretch marks on your thighs and breasts but these will usually fade after the birth. You can also find creams and oils designed to reduce the appearance of stretch marks. These are usually available in your local pharmacy.

    Getting a glow on

    You’ve probably heard people talk about the glow that pregnant women have, and there’s definitely truth behind it. During your second trimester you’ll have increased levels of a hormone called progesterone. Your skin retains more moisture and your blood volume increases, these are all things that can give your skin that radiant look. You might also find your nails grow much faster and your hair seems thicker.

    I’m getting a few funny colored patches

    You might have noticed a couple of dark patches of skin showing up on your face. This is caused by melanin, the natural pigment in your skin, darkening because of hormone changes. It should fade after birth, but in the meantime use plenty of sunscreen and follow the regular sun safety rules.

    You may develop a dark line that runs vertically down the middle of your baby bump. Don’t panic – this is normal too. It’s called the linea nigra and will probably fade after birth too.

    I’ve got a tiny sports star in the making

    Baby kicks are something you can look forward to during your 2nd trimester. You could be feeling these any time from around 20 weeks. If this isn’t your first pregnancy it’s not uncommon to start feeling kicks even earlier.

    I’m a little blocked up...

    You might find you get constipated during pregnancy. Drinking plenty of water (six to eight glasses a day) can help. You should also get plenty of fibre in your diet. Wholegrain breads, cereals, fruit and vegetables are all great.

    Tips for including more fibre in your meals:

    • Swap white bread for wholegrain
    • Choose cereals like wheat biscuits, muesli or porridge
    • Snack on fruit and nuts
    • Add baked beans to mince dishes, or as a topping on your baked potato
    • Bulk up your dinner with veges and salads
    • Have plenty of frozen veges on hand. These are easy to add to stir frys
    • Add fruit to your breakfast. Sliced banana on wholegrain bread is delicious

    Heartburn always gets me at night

    Unfortunately heartburn and indigestion are common during pregnancy, especially in the later stages. It’s that burning sensation you get when acid moves out of your stomach and into your oesophagus. Eating small amounts more often can help, as can having a milky drink before bed. Avoid spicy, fatty foods as they can make the problem worse. Make sure you contact your LMC if you don't feel better.

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  • Third trimester: everyone will want to pat your tummy

    Final stage! The third trimester runs from 28 weeks until birth. It’s during this time that your baby’s weight will triple and you should be eating well to fuel you both. Let’s not mince words, the 3rd trimester can be uncomfortable at times, but remember it’s only temporary and you’re about to get a bouncing wee baby.

    Third trimester of pregnancy

    It leaves me breathless

    If you’re feeling a little puffed there’s a reason why. Your expanding uterus is pressing against your diaphragm. Just relax and take it easy. Now is not the time to be attempting anything too strenuous.

    I’m carrying enough water to fill a lake

    During your third trimester most mums-to-be are likely to retain a fair bit of water. Your ankles, feet and fingers may all swell, and you probably won’t want to stand for any long period of time.

    The only time you should be concerned about this is if swelling is very severe and accompanied by headaches, dizziness, nausea or visual disturbances. If this happens you should see your lead maternity carer straight away, as it could indicate something more serious.

    I’ve got the urge to scratch

    As your skins stretches over your bump it can get a little itchy. Using a gentle moisturizer on the area can help ease this. It’s unlikely, but if you find the itching is severe, especially at night, make sure you contact your lead maternity carer.

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  • Medical advice: Don't feel shy about contacting your health professional

    square_MedicalAdvice

    There may be times when you want to consult an expert – especially if this is your first pregnancy and it’s all foreign to you. Never feel embarrassed about asking for help or advice, this is an important time in your life and reassurance is sometimes all you need.

    If something is worrying you, it’s important to call your GP or lead maternity carer. It’s much better you catch a potential problem early, and get peace of mind.

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  • Breaking a sweat: what about exercise during pregnancy?

    We’ve all heard that fitness and nutrition work hand in hand for a healthy lifestyle, and this applies even more during pregnancy. Moderate intensity aerobic (e.g. walking, swimming) or muscle strengthening activities are considered safe for most people and are encouraged during pregnancy. Keeping physically active during pregnancy can help keep your weight under control, give you more strength for labour and even make it easier to recover after the birth.

    The Eating and Activity Guidelines for New Zealand Adults recommend pregnant women aim to do 2 ½ hours of moderate-intensity physical activity spread over at least 3 days per week (preferably some activity every day). Just make sure you take it easy and consult your doctor or midwife before you start any exercise program. Also you will need to adapt your exercise activities as your body changes during pregnancy.

    Here are a few things to keep in mind:

    Active lifestyle – if you’re used to moderate intensity exercise and your pregnancy is problem free, there’s no reason you can’t carry on, so long as you’re comfortable.

    If you are competing in events or exercising significantly more at vigorous to high intensities, seek advice from a health care professional with specialist knowledge about activity during pregnancy.

    Being gentle - it’s best to avoid high risk sports and exercise like horse riding, squash and skiing until after you’ve given birth. This is because of the risk of collision, falling or injury, which could impact on your baby. You should also steer clear of exercises that put lots of strain on your abdominal muscles, like stomach crunches. 

    Mostly inactive - if you’re not used to regular exercise, now’s definitely not the time to start a strenuous regime. Start slowly and build up your activity with gentle activities like walking, swimming and yoga, which are suitable for all stages of pregnancy.  All physical activity counts too such as walking to work or for active transport.

    Keeping sensible - whatever exercise you do, you need to stop immediately if you feel overheated, sick, and faint, or you have any pain. If it doesn’t feel right – it probably isn’t. If you’re in a class, just make sure that your instructor knows you’re pregnant before you start.  Also make sure you drink plenty of water when exercising.

    One exercise to rule them all - pelvic floor exercises are a good choice during and after pregnancy and done regularly can keep pelvic floor muscles strong to help avoid urinary incontinence problems. The Eating and Activity Guidelines for New Zealand Adults advise that pregnant women can benefit from doing stretching and pelvic floor muscle training daily. 

    Ask the experts - If you have any pre-existing health conditions, concerns or questions about physical activity, always check with you doctor or lead maternity carer. You should also run it by them before you start any new routine.

    References:

    Ministry of Health. 2020.  Eating and Activity Guidelines for New Zealand Adults. Updated 2020. Wellington: Ministry of Health.

    The materials published on this website are of a general nature and have been provided for informational purposes only. Always consult your medical practitioner or a qualified health provider for any further advice in relation to the topics discussed.

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  • Preparing your Body for Pregnancy

    Some of us just know when we’re ready. Some of us never feel like we’re ready but dive in anyway. Some of us don’t even plan on conceiving, but when it happens we’re overjoyed. Or at least equal parts overjoyed and terrified. The truth is pregnancy is different for everyone, but if you are planning on having a baby you’ll find plenty of helpful advice here.

    Trulli

    Good habits start early

    Everyday life takes over and it’s easy to neglect your diet and exercise regime. While conception is different for all women, here’s a simple rule of thumb that we can all follow: it’s never too early to start taking care of yourself. Healthy parents have a better chance of conceiving and giving their baby the best possible start in life.

    Eat well

    It is recommended that you follow a healthy balanced diet because eating well helps prepare your body both before and during pregnancy.  Eat three regular meals every day with a small snack in between if needed. Eat a variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups every day. Choose and prepare foods and drinks which are low in saturated fat, with little or no added sugar and that are low in salt.  Drink plenty of fluids, water is best.

    Folic acid is a must

    Folic acid is an essential B-vitamin that is important during conception and pregnancy to help prevent birth defects such as spina bifida. Take one 800ug folic acid-only tablet daily for at least four weeks before pregnancy, and until the end of the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Folic acid is found in some foods like green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, legumes and grains. You don’t get enough folic acid from diet alone during pregnancy, and that’s why you need to take a folic acid-only supplement. Your doctor or midwife will recommend a folic acid-only supplement to take before and during pregnancy.

    Fitness counts

    Try to achieve a healthy body weight with heathy eating and regular physical activity.  Work on improving your fitness, as carrying excess weight can put extra strain on your body. Even small amounts help, so when you get a chance to add exercise into your day – take it! It is recommended that you do at least 2 ½ hours of moderate-intensity or 1 ¼ vigorous-intensity physical activity spread throughout the week before pregnancy.

    Smoking

    Aim to quit well before you start trying for a baby. There are a lot of resources to help you take that healthy leap.

    If you’re concerned about your diet, weight or fitness, see your health professional for advice or referral to a dietitian. 

    References:

    Ministry of Health.  2020.  Eating and Activity Guidelines for New Zealand Adults. Updated 2020. Wellington: Ministry of Health.

    The materials published on this website are of a general nature and have been provided for informational purposes only. Always consult your medical practitioner or a qualified health provider for any further advice in relation to the topics discussed.

    Read More
  • 30 August 2017

    What to eat when you have morning sickness

    Auckland mum Candice could only stomach non-caffeine fizzy drinks like ginger ale or raspberry. Her friend, Ursula, couldn't handle anything with a flavour or aroma - only bland snacks like crackers and dry bread would do - while Yvonne, an author and parenting journalist, says even the thought of something sweet had her reaching for a bucket.

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  • 09 July 2014

    Keeping weight gain on track when you’re pregnant

    “When you’re pregnant, you need to eat for two!” You’ve probably heard this old wives tale more times than you can count. Most likely, this was common advice in years gone by encouraging women to relax and eat freely when they were pregnant.

    Unfortunately by ‘eating for two’ many pregnant women in NZ are gaining unhealthy amounts of weight, putting their baby and themselves at risk of health complications.

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