Clinical Practice Guidelines Antenatal care - Module I

10. Lifestyle considerations

Page last updated: 02 April 2013

Many lifestyle factors contribute to the health and wellbeing of a woman and her baby during pregnancy. This chapter discusses the health risks and benefits associated with specific social and lifestyle factors. Other lifestyle factors (eg nutrition, physical activity, illicit drug use) will be considered in detail in Module II of the Guidelines. The table below summarises current advice, drawing from the NICE guidelines as well as recommendations included in these Guidelines.

Table 10.1: Summary of advice for women about lifestyle considerations in the first trimester

Note: Table 10.1 is spilt into four tables and organised in proper way to meet accessibility requirements.

Lifestyle factors Lifestyle factors
Evidence
Tobacco smoking Smoking and passive smoking can have negative effects on the pregnancy and the baby.
Grade B
Food-acquired infections*# Women can reduce the risk of listeriosis by drinking only pasteurised or UHT milk, not eating ripened soft cheese, not eating paté of any sort and not eating uncooked or undercooked ready-prepared meals.
Grade D*
Alcohol Not drinking is the safest option for women who are pregnant.
CBR
Physical activity* Beginning or continuing a moderate course of exercise during pregnancy is not associated with negative effects on the pregnancy or baby.
Grade A*
Physical activity*Certain activities — eg contact sports, high-impact sports and vigorous racquet sports that may involve the risk of abdominal trauma, falls or excessive joint stress, and scuba diving — should be avoided.
Grade D*
Cannabis* The direct effects of cannabis on the baby are uncertain but may be harmful. As cannabis use is associated with smoking, using cannabis should be avoided during pregnancy.
Grade C*
Medicines Medicines
Evidence
Medicines Use of medicines should be limited to circumstances where the benefit outweighs the risk.
CBR
Herbal medicines Herbal medicines should be avoided in the first trimester.
PP
General advice General advice
Evidence
Travel* Correct use of three-point seatbelts during pregnancy is to have the belt ‘above and below the bump, not over it’.
Grade B*
Travel*Wearing correctly fitted compression stockings may reduce the risk of venous thrombosis during longhaul air travel.
Grade B*
Travel*Women who are pregnant and planning to travel should discuss considerations such as flying and vaccinations with their midwife or doctor
PP*
Oral health Good oral health protects a woman’s health and treatment can be safely provided during pregnancy.
Grade B
Sexual intercourse* Sexual intercourse in pregnancy is not known to be associated with any adverse outcomes.
Grade B*
Preventive health interventions Preventive health interventions
Evidence
Folic acid Folic acid taken preconception and in the first trimester reduces the risk of a baby having neural tube defects and a supplement of 500mg a day is recommended.
Grade A
Other vitamins Supplements of vitamins A, C and E are not of benefit during pregnancy and may cause harm.
Grade B
Iron Iron supplementation is only recommended when a deficiency is identified as it does not benefit the health of the woman or baby. Not only does unnecessary iron supplementation offer no benefit, it may be harmful.
Grade B
Iodine Iodine requirements increase during pregnancy and a supplement of 150 micrograms a day is recommended.
CBR
Immunisation** It is recommended that influenza vaccine be offered in advance to women planning a pregnancy, and to pregnant women who will be in the second or third trimester during the influenza season, including those in the first trimester at the time of vaccination.
Not graded**
* Advice from NICE (2008) Antenatal Care. Routine Care for the Healthy Pregnant Woman. London: RCOG Press.
** Advice from ATAGI (2009) Australian Immunisation Handbook. 9th edition. Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation. Canberra: Department of Health and Ageing.
# For more information please visit NSW Food Authority website.