Make appropriate lifestyle changes

Parenting requires many lifestyle adjustments to ensure the well-being of the child. Oftentimes, parents must adjust their schedules to work around those of their children - to put the children’s needs first. Discovering you are pregnant as a teen and deciding to become a parent often entails a quick jump into adulthood that many youth do not feel prepared for. This may lead to feelings of inadequacy, failure and stress, or the feeling that one has missed out on the last or most significant years of one’s own childhood.


If you smoke, and you are pregnant, you are strongly advised to stop smoking. This is to benefit your health, and the health of your baby. Tobacco smoke contains poisonous chemicals which pass into your bloodstream when you smoke, and then on into the growing baby's blood. Smoking when you are pregnant increases the risk of miscarriage, slow growth of the baby leading to a low birth weight, premature labour and stillbirth. Even after the birth, children of smoking parents have an increased risk of developing chest infections, asthma, glue ear and cot death (sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS).


Women who are pregnant should not drink alcohol. The reason for this is that alcohol can cause damage to a developing baby. If a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, alcohol gets to a baby through the placenta. A baby cannot process alcohol very well. So, any alcohol in your baby stays in their body much longer than in you. This is known to be a risk for causing serious problems. For example, studies have shown that:

  • Pregnant women who drink more than 15 units a week have an increased risk of having a baby with a low birth weight.
  • Pregnant women who drink more than 20 units a week have an increased risk of having a baby with some damage to the brain, causing impaired intellect.
  • Pregnant women who drink very heavily risk having a baby with fetal alcohol syndrome. Babies with this syndrome have brain damage, a low birth weight and facial deformities.

For the sake of your baby's health, if you are already dependent on alcohol you should be open and honest about the amount you drink. Once you are pregnant, many different people may offer you support, including doctors, midwives, social workers and counsellors. This can become confusing but, if you regularly keep in touch with one healthcare professional, they should be able to make sure that you are not bombarded with too many unnecessary appointments.


For most women, it is important to do some regular physical activity during pregnancy, as part of living a healthy lifestyle. In most cases, moderate physical activity during pregnancy is safe and can have benefits for both you and your baby and should not harm either of you. However, you do need to be sensible about what type of physical activity you do. You should aim to do a mixture of both aerobic physical activity and muscle-strengthening physical activity. In general, at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day is recommended. Physical activity during pregnancy is safe for most women. However, there are some pregnant women who should speak to their doctor or midwife before doing any physical activity during their pregnancy.

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