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Question:
I've just recently found out I'm pregnant and want to do what I can to stay healthy. I've heard that you shouldn't drink alcohol when pregnant. Does this refer only to heavy drinking or can I indulge in a drink every once and a while? Pregnant in Moscow
Answer:
Thank you for your inquiry. I have passed this on to one of our specialists in family medicine - please find her reply as follows: Thanks for your question. So you are pregnant - congratulations! Your fear about alcohol is a common one but don't worry too much at this stage. There is no evidence that light or occasional alcohol consumption in pregnancy will harm your baby. But research shows that heavy or frequent drinking can harm your babies development. Current advice is to stick to non-alcoholic drinks whenever possible but if you do drink alcohol sip it slowly and then refuse politely but firmly when you have had enough. Don't drink more than one or two units of alcohol once or twice per week. (1 unit is one glass of wine or a small beer) Strong alcohols such as vodka and whisky are best avoided. To make sure you and your baby stay healthy during pregnancy you should have a balanced, healthy diet. You should take folic acid (400 micrograms) supplements for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, starchy foods (like bread and rice), and protein (lean meat, fish, eggs, cheese, beans and lentils). You should also ensure a good intake of dairy products as they contain calcium needed for the baby's development. Certain foods are better avoided in pregnancy such as raw meat, under cooked eggs, liver products, pate and ripened soft cheeses because of the risk of infections such as salmonella, toxoplasma and listeria. If you are a smoker, you should try very hard to stop. Try to be more careful with general hygiene and get plenty of rest when you feel tired. If you are taking any regular medication review them with your doctor because they may not be safe in pregnancy. If you don't take regular exercise, start trying to fit some gentle regular exercise into your schedule. The more fit and active you are, the easier to cope with the changes of pregnancy and the quicker your shape returns to normal after delivery. It would be a good idea to have a check up with your family doctor or OBGYN soon (within the next 2 weeks). This allows your doctor to see that you are well and that the pregnancy is viable and in the womb not in one of the tubes. It's also an opportunity to discuss the above issues, how your pregnancy will progress and what sort of antenatal care you should have. Ideally most family doctors would like to see women planning pregnancy before the pregnancy has occurred. Pre-conception counselling is important in ensuring that women are as healthy as possible at the start of pregnancy. This visit usually inlcudes a medical check up for the prospective mother, advice about a healthy, balanced diet and assessment of pre-existing medical problems that might influence the course and outcome of pregnancy or that might make it more difficult to become pregnant. In addition, women planning pregnancy are advised to take folic acid supplemements (400 micrograms daily) from the time they start trying to conceive until the 12th week of pregnancy. It is also a good time to check immunity to rubella (a childhood illness that can cause problems for the baby if the mother gets it the first time in pregnancy). If possible rubella negative women should be vaccinated before they become pregnant.
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