Video: Is it safe to have sex during pregnancy?

In some ways life can just carry on as normal when you're pregnant, but there are a lot of changes you need to consider too from what you eat to how you enjoy yourself. Our experts tackle some of the main questions.

Is it safe to have sex during pregnancy?

Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and Clinical Director of

For most otherwise healthy woman, yes, it’s absolutely safe to have sex during pregnancy. There is no evidence that having sex in first three months of pregnancy increases your risk of miscarriage. There is a rare complication of pregnancy called placenta previa where the placenta is low lying and sometimes it actually lies over the neck of the womb. Other than in situations like that, having sex later in pregnancy is perfectly safe too.

Obviously, you might find a little bit awkward to have really energetic sex especially in a later stages of pregnancy. But you can always save that for afterwards. Now different women have very different views about sex during pregnancy. Some women feel ugly, unattractive. Some women feel blooming and can’t wait to take their man to bed. That depends on lots of things, your hormones, your mood, your upbringing, the attitude you’ve been brought up with the bed sex. Whichever way, it’s absolutely fine, just make sure that you and your partner continue to communicate.

What food should you avoid when pregnant?

Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and Clinical Director of

There is a long list of foods that ideally, we recommend you don't eat during pregnancy because there is a very small risk of infection. Even though that risk is small because it can damage your baby or cause premature labour, we do suggest better safe than sorry. So, the list includes, any soft cheese with skin, any soft blue veined cheese, unpasteurised milk, raw shell fish, pâtés of any description whether vegetable or meat, liver of any kind and raw or under cooked meats.

We also recommend that salads and vegetables should be really really well washed because of small risk of an infection called toxoplasmosis. The good news is that, there are lots of delicious foods that you can eat during your pregnancy and hot off the press, we now recommend that you can have raw or under cooked eggs as long as they have been vaccinated against salmonella which means that they have the British Lion brand.

How do I take care of myself during pregnancy?

Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and Clinical Director of

Taking care of yourself and your baby in early pregnancy is actually starts before ever get pregnant. So, stopping smoking, getting down to your ideal weight, avoiding alcohol, taking vitamin-D and folic acid supplements, should all start before you start trying to get pregnant. If you are taking regular medication particularly for epilepsy, it’s really important to see your doctor before that.

The same thing applies if you have type 1 diabetes and taking insulin. You want to get in a best possible shape to get pregnant. Once you are pregnant, you’re probably going to feel exhausted, especially in those first 12 weeks before anybody else knows that you are pregnant. Because so much of the work of forming your baby happens during that time. Do make sure that you have plenty of time to relax, even if nobody is allowed to know that you are pregnant.

If you have drunk alcohol before pregnant or before pregnancy or before you knew you are pregnant then don't worry too much about it but do try to avoid alcohol and indeed any medication if you can during those first 12 weeks in particular. Exercise, yes, you can exercise but no bungee jumping, no trampolining, nothing too strenuous, especially in the first 12 weeks. Don't forget that your ligaments are starting to change in order to accommodate the baby.

We don't know for certain whether flying increases your risk of miscarriage in those first 12 weeks of pregnancy, so, it's up to you to decide, if you want to take a trip. Don't forget you are not eating for two. You don't eat any extra calories during the early stages of pregnancy. But there are quite a lot of foods that you should be avoiding. Talk to your GP and, finally, please don't forget that if you get morning sickness, you really should pass, you may find, that just eating small amount regularly, just having what you feel like and possibly dry digestive biscuits or ginger may help.

What conditions may affect my pregnancy?

Dr Shazia Malik, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist

So, there’s advice I give to everybody who’s trying to get pregnant on general lifestyle, for example, whether you smoke, drink, what your weight is, and your general day to day life. This includes things like, cutting down alcohol, stopping smoking, getting as close as possible to your ideal weight and taking a vitamin supplement that includes folic acid and vitamin D, both are of which are very important for the early development of your baby’s health. It is very important, if you smoke, to give up, go and see your doctor.

They are more than happy to help you. Try and drink as little or no alcohol as possible when you are trying, the maximum I would say is about two units a week and also try and get to your ideal weight before you are pregnant. We know that people who are overweight or drink or smoke too much have higher rates of miscarriage. So, it’s important that we get this right when we are trying. The other thing is to look at a stress levels as well. So, stress is associated with reduced chances of being able to get pregnant. So, see if you can reduce the amount of stress in your life.

Specific conditions that could affect pregnancy are things like diabetes, epilepsy, depression, high blood pressure or if you have problems with your heart in the past and for these kind of things you need to see your GP before you get pregnant, so that you can have the right medication, at the right dose when you get pregnant and then throughout your pregnancy. It’s important for your health and for your developing baby.

Specific conditions to previous birth experiences alter pregnancy, can include for example if you had pre-eclampsia, which is extremely high blood pressure, which can be dangerous for you or your baby. If you have problems with the placenta working properly in your previous pregnancy and you had a baby that was much smaller than it should have been or if you’ve have problems with your birth that have affected your choices in this coming pregnancy and birth. It’s very important that you are able to discuss this with your doctor or with a specialist so that you can have a safe and stress free pregnancy and birth.

How does pregnancy affect diabetes?

Dr Partha Kar

Diabetes and pregnancy have always had an interesting linkage. The important thing to remember is in the preconception stage or when you are planning a pregnancy a woman does need to have a higher dose of folic acid or 5 milligrams of folic acid.

When you are pregnant it is important to be in touch with diabetes specialist team throughout the course of the pregnancy as tight blood glucose control is important, both, for the mother and baby’s well-being.

Is the flu dangerous during pregnancy?

Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and Clinical Director of

Infection with the influenza virus, the real thing in other words rather than the common cold, is miserable for anybody. But most people recover without any ill effects. That's not necessarily the case if your immune system isn’t working well.

So, people like for instance, the young, the old people with long term health condition like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, lung disease, problems with the liver. They are all at much higher risk of complications, so are pregnant women. And those complications can affect not just them but their babies too. That's why we recommend that all pregnant women are immunised with the flu virus. It’s not a live virus so it cannot multiply inside your body and that means it cannot do any harm to you or your baby unlike influenza.

Can you go to the farm when pregnant?

Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and Clinical Director of

You can go to the farm when you are pregnant but I certainly would not recommend that you help with the lambing. There are certain conditions that pregnant ewes can pass on during lambing season to women in particularly to pregnant women.

Although this risk is small, they are there. They include things like listeriosis, chlamydiosis, toxoplasmosis, and Q Fever and toxoplasmosis can also be passed on by cats. So, by all means go to the petting zoo but don't touch the animals and if you go anywhere near anything just make really sure you wash your hands.

Can you use a hot tub when pregnant?

Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and Clinical Director of

On the whole, I don't recommend that patients use hot tubs, Jacuzzis, or saunas while they are pregnant for several reasons. The first is that you can’t lose heat by sweating, if you are in sauna or Jacuzzi or hot tub and since your circulation is very different during pregnancy, for instance, you tend to feel hotter because you have more blood vessels around the surface and you got more blood circulating.

Your blood pressure will also drop and therefore you might feel more light-headed. All of these things make you more prone to over heating or to feeling faint during pregnancy. The Royal College of Obs and Gynae recommends  that you shouldn’t exercise at a temperature of more than about 32 degrees and that you shouldn’t be at a temperature of more than about 35 degrees. A hot tub could be up to 40 degrees so I recommend that you leave it until after you’ve had your baby.

Hello, I'm in the early stages of pregnancy and am suffering from an irritating case of thrush. Any recommendations on what to use?I tried to ask the pharmacist but they were reluctant to advise. My...

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