Helpful Info

Pregnancy Helpful Information

Diet & Exercise in Pregnancy

Diet during your pregnancy is extremely important as it not only influences your health and well-being, but facilitates the growth and development of your baby. Pregnancy provides you with a great opportunity to address your diet and nutritional status, to provide the best health outcomes for you and your baby.

In addition to a balanced diet the following may be beneficial:

0.5mg of folate per day is recommended for ALL pregnant women. This has been shown to reduce defects of the spine and nervous system. Women with high-risk conditions may be advised to take 5mg per day.

The majority of Australian women have an inadequate intake of dietary iodine and the NHMRC currently recommends 150mcg iodine daily for all pregnant women. Iodine is important in the development of the fetal thyroid gland as well as brain and nervous system development.

Pregnancy relies on your own stores of calcium to develop and strengthen your baby’s bones. Calcium deficiency has also been implicated in development of blood pressure disorders in women already at risk. 1000-2000mcg of calcium is recommended and this can be achieved with a balanced diet. If you have a dairy free diet, supplementation may be considered.

The benefits of Vitamin D replacement requires further research however for women with low vitamin D levels in pregnancy replacement is safe and generally recommended.

Exercise & Weight Gain

Women are encouraged to exercise in pregnancy. This will help maintain a good level of fitness and reduce the risk of pregnancy complications. The level and amount of exercise that is safe will vary depending on your pre-pregnancy weight and fitness.

Both aerobic and strength conditioning types of exercise are encouraged, however activities that carry a risk of contact injury (netball, football) or falls (skiing, horse riding) are general advised against.

There are a number of pregnancy specific exercise programs available on the Mornington Peninsula that may be of interest to you. Some of these are listed in the resources section.

The recommended weight gain during your pregnancy is determined by your pre pregnancy Body Mass Index (BMI). Your BMI is an estimate of body fat calculated by taking your weight in kilograms and dividing it by your height in metres squared.

Pre Pregnancy BMI BMI kg/m2 Recommended Weight Gain kg
Underweight <18.5 12.5-18
Normal Weight 18.5-24.9 11.5-16
Overweight 25.0-29.9 7-11
Obese >30 5-9

Institute of Medicine, Weight Gain During Pregnancy: Reexamining the Guidelines 2009.

It is very important that you aim to follow these guidelines as inadequate or excessive weight gain can have serious implications on the health of both you and your baby.

Smoking & Alcohol

Cigarette smoking can have adverse effects on you and your baby during pregnancy and the postnatal period. This includes poor placental function leading to reduced growth of your baby, increased risk of stillbirth and SIDS.

Excessive alcohol in pregnancy has been shown to cause long term harm in babies. Recent evidence has suggested that a very small intake of alcohol in pregnancy may not cause harm, however there remains no established safe level of alcohol intake in pregnancy.

Infections in Pregnancy

Listeria infection in pregnancy is rare, however it carries significant risks when it occurs. Foods that are at risk of being contaminated include pate, unpasteurized cheeses, deli meats, soft serve ice cream and pre-made salads. It is recommended these foods be avoided in pregnancy.

Infection with this bacteria can lead to long term health problems for your baby. This bacteria is most commonly found in soil contaminated by animal faeces, in particular of cats. Gardening and changing of kitty litter can increase the risk of contracting toxoplasmosis.

Pregnant women are particularly susceptible to flu infection, and may become severely unwell if infected. All pregnant women are advised to have the influenza vaccine during their pregnancy. The flu vaccine has been taken by a large number of pregnant women and there is no evidence to suggest there is any harm to you or your baby as a result of the vaccine.

Labour & Delivery

Signs of labour include painful, regular contractions, ruptured membranes and a mucousy show and can occur in any order. When these occur you should contact the maternity unit. If it is thought that you are in labour or there is the need for review you will be advised to present to the hospital.

When to call

Many pregnancy symptoms are a normal part of pregnancy and not a cause of concern. However if you experience any of the following symptoms, it is important to contact the Maternity Unit immediately.

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Reduced or absent movements of your baby after 24 weeks of pregnancy
  • Ruptured membranes less than 37 weeks of pregnancy (breaking your waters)
  • Severe or persistent abdominal pain
  • A headache not relieved by rest and panadol
  • Visual disturbances including flashing lights and blurred vision
  • Persistent vomiting
  • High fever
  • Sudden increase in swelling, particularly of the face
  • Other concerns about sudden changes in your wellbeing

If you are concerned at any other time please contact the rooms or the midwives at the Bays Hospital on 03 5976 5920. Advice may be provided over the phone, or if necessary a review will be arranged.


Government Websites


Antenatal classes

Support Organisations

Pregnancy Exercise & Physiotherapy

Pregnancy & Baby Photography