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What you need to know when you’re pregnant

If you smoke, quit now and make sure your home is smokefree

  • When you smoke, poisons pass through the placenta to your baby. These poisons harm your baby’s health. Even if you have smoked for some of your pregnancy, quitting now will make baby healthier.
  • If you want help to quit, local quit smoking providers can help or you can contact Quitline.

Folic acid and iodine

  • Ideally take folic acid once a day for 3 months prior to pregnancy and the first 3 months of pregnancy
  • Iodine is taken as one tablet per day throughout pregnancy
  • Ask your GP or midwife about prescriptions for these.

Don’t drink alcohol once pregnant or planning to become pregnant

  • There is no safe level of alcohol intake when your pregnant
  • Choose a lead maternity carer (a midwife, GP or specialist).

Healthy eating in pregnancy

  • Eating well and doing moderate physical activity during pregnancy are important for you and your baby
  • Learn about foods that are safe and those that are not as some foods are not safe to eat during pregnancy.

Rubella and women

  • If you are planning pregnancy, ask your GP to see whether you need to be immunised against rubella
  • If you need to be immunised, avoid getting pregnant for at least one month
  • If you are pregnant, your immunity will be tested early on and if you are not pregnant, you need to take extra care to reduce risk of getting rubella infection, especially during the first 3 months.

Screening tests

When you are first pregnant, you will be offered some standard blood tests and a urine test. This blood test is free, and it checks for:

  • your blood group and rhesus factor (if you are rhesus negative, ask your midwife [or specialist doctor] to explain what this means)
  • your haemoglobin (the amount of iron in your blood)
  • if there are any antibodies that may be harmful to your baby
  • if you are immune to rubella
  • if you are a hepatitis B carrier
  • if you have syphilis
  • if you have HIV (see below)
  • if you have diabetes or are at risk of developing diabetes
  • a urine test to look for any sign of a urine infection or asymptomatic bacteruria.

You will also be offered screening tests to check for Down's syndrome and other genetic conditions. The type of test that can be done depends on how many weeks pregnant you are.