A better Medway

Two women running with weights

There is a clear link between a mother’s health before pregnancy and her baby’s health.

We know that healthy women have fewer complications in pregnancy.

They are also more likely to have healthy babies who grow into healthy children.

Partners also have a role to play by staying healthy.

#ReadyforPregnancy is here to support you if you're thinking about having a baby. Follow A Better Medway's Facebook page for updates to help you and your baby get off to the best possible start.

Help your fertility

To increase your chances of conceiving naturally and having a healthy and simple pregnancy, you should aim for a healthy weight.

Stopping smoking reduces the risk of impotence and infertility in men. Men who smoke can suffer from reduced quality sperm and erection difficulties.

Alcohol can damage sperm production, so men should cut down on drinking too.

Infant Feeding

Feeding support is available in Medway through our peer support service, Beside You.

The Beside You website has useful information for people who are thinking about breastfeeding.

If you are pregnant, you can attend a free Hello Baby session with a peer supporter.

Find out more about:

  • responsive feeding
  • feeding cues
  • what’s in a nappy
  • and lots more.

To book a Hello Baby session email medch.mbn@nhs.net or text or call 07791 043 190.

Learn more about breastfeeding.

Look after your mental health

If you are experiencing poor mental health or have a mental health condition, seek advice from your GP or psychiatrist. They will talk to you about:

  • your medication
  • the impact of being pregnant on your mental health
  • the effect your mental health may have on your pregnancy
  • the support you can expect.

Learn more about looking after your mental health and pregnancy.

Specialist midwives

The specialist midwives for antenatal and postnatal mental health can provide advice and support to women, midwives and doctors throughout the antenatal and the postnatal period.

They are able refer you (if appropriate) to more specialist secondary mental health services, such as:

  • Community Mental Health
  • Mother and Infant Mental Health Service (MIMHS).

They will also advise you of primary care services available to you in the local area, such as Medway Talking therapies and We Are With You.

Find out more

To find out more about the specialist midwives, you can download the maternity useful contact sheet.

To contact the specialist midwives, you can:

Stop smoking

Quitting smoking is the most important thing you and your partner can do to give your baby the best start in life.

Free support is available in Medway through our stop smoking services and Blooming Bumps antenatal group. You can also talk to your doctor or midwife about getting support to quit.

Check your vaccinations are up to date

Some vaccinations are recommended in pregnancy such as the flu vaccine but some are not recommended such as BCG (vaccination against tuberculosis).

If you are unsure about which vaccinations you have had, you can contact your GP for your vaccination record. 

To find out more about which vaccinations are safe in pregnancy, you can visit the NHS vaccinations in pregnancy page.

Cut out alcohol

Many women ask how much is safe to drink during pregnancy.

The safest approach is not to drink at all. 

Find out more about drinking alcohol while pregnant and alcohol and your health.

Get support

If you are concerned about drinking alcohol during pregnancy or would like some support you can get in touch with services who can help. Use the contact information below to find out more.

Drinkline

The national alcohol helpline. If you are worried about drinking, call the helpline for free on 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am to 8pm, weekends 11am to 4pm)

We Are With You

A UK wide treatment agency that helps people manage the effects of alcohol a drug misuse.

Visit the We Are With You website.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

A free self help group. The 12 step programme involves getting sober with the help of regular support groups.

Visit the AA website.

Try Dry

The free Try Dry app was made by Alcohol Change UK. Find out more about the Try Dry app and download.

Take folic acid

It is recommended that as soon as you start trying for a baby, you should take a folic acid supplement.

If you can, try and take folic acid:

  • at least 3 months before you fall pregnant
  • during the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy.

This will help your baby's brain and spine develop normally and reduce the risk of your baby having a neural tube defect, such as spina bifida.

You will usually take 400 micrograms a day.

Your doctor may advise you take a higher dose of folic acid if you have a higher chance of having a baby with a problem with the brain or spine.

Your chance of having a baby with a neural tube defect may be higher if you (or the baby's biological father):

  • have previously had a pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect
  • have a neural tube defect
  • have a family history of neural tube defects
  • have diabetes
  • have a raised BMI
  • have sickle cell disease
  • are taking certain epilepsy medicines
  • are taking antiretroviral medicines for HIV.

Folic acid and breastfeeding

It is OK to take folic acid while you are breastfeeding.

Folic acid is a normal part of breast milk.

When taken as a supplement it passes into breast milk in amounts that are too small to harm your baby.

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding you should also consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement.

Speak to your local pharmacist or GP for the best time to start.

Exercise

If you are not used to exercising, or haven’t done any for a while, now is a good time to start.

Try starting off with 10 minutes of daily activity.

You can then build up to 150 minutes of weekly exercise.

When you’re ready, try these easy to follow walking routes in Medway.

pregnant woman eating

Eat healthily

Eating a healthy diet is important if you are planning a pregnancy.

Your baby relies on you to provide the right balance of nutrients to help them grow and develop (even after they’re born).