When it comes to pregnancy, many questions are asked about what you can and can’t have, especially when it comes to food and drink. Women and men alike suddenly find themselves reading labels anxiously, as well as googling ingredients and recipes that do good to pregnant women rather than harm. While some of the rules that come with pregnancy are black and white, many aren’t and are solely dependent on who you ask. One of the most popular questions asked, however, is concerned with coffee intake. Can pregnant women drink coffee? How much caffeine can you have while pregnant? Is too much caffeine bad? So, let’s find out!

How much caffeine is in coffee?

With increased levels of fatigue experienced by many pregnant women, coffee may always seem like the easy go-to in order to keep energy levels up, whether it’s to complete day-to-day tasks or manage other children and toddlers. But is it okay to do so? Well, the simple answer is yes, but in small daily amounts. Caffeine crosses the placenta and has been associated with low birth weights, therefore experts recommend that pregnant women take in no more than 200mg daily, approximately 2 cups of coffee. However, it is very important to note that not all coffee is caffeinated in equal measures. Caffeine content varies on the method of production and type. Drip coffee contains the highest levels (approximately 140-240mg per 240ml/8 oz) followed by brewed and then instant. So, as a general guideline, mothers-to-be can have two smalls cups of brewed coffee a day, but it is important to note other sources of caffeine such as fizzy/energy drinks and chocolate.

Reducing caffeine intake

If you are conscious about the levels of caffeine that you consume and want to lower these, or if you think you’ve hit your daily amount and are in search for an alternative to help satisfy your cravings, try these:

  • Drink water/fruit juice
  • Try herbal tea
  • Go decaf!

These may not be the coffee that you know and love, but they will definitely go a long way when cravings start to kick in while giving you peace of mind that you are doing no harm to you or your baby!

For further information on what’s safe to eat or drink while pregnant, be sure to contact your doctor or midwife – for further advice on pregnancy cravings and how to curb them, click below!

Pregnancy Cravings Advice >

Prevent stretch marks during pregnancy

What are Stretch Marks?

Stretch marks are lines and streaks that form in the middle (dermis) layer of your skin as it grows and stretches. They are often red or purple in colour at first but they gradually fade, leaving a silver/white coloured mark. They aren’t always uniform in shape and size, they can be long or short, thick or thin.

Stretch marks can appear at any time in your life, and some people are more prone to getting them than others. For example, if your mother or father has stretch marks then it’s likely that you will too.

Because your body changes and grows so much when you’re pregnant, it’s likely that you’ll see some stretch marks appearing on your stomach, legs and breasts during pregnancy, even if you haven’t noticed any before.

A lot of women feel quite self-conscious about developing stretch marks whilst they’re pregnant, and while we think that stretch marks are a beautiful and something to be embraced, there are things you can do to prevent and reduce the appearance of your stretch marks if you prefer to.

Ways to prevent & reduce the appearance of stretch marks:

1.      Moisturise and Hydrate

Drinking enough water is always important. But in this case, staying hydrated will ensure that your skin is soft and supple reducing the likelihood of stretch marks appearing. The recommended average daily water intake for a pregnant woman is around 10 glasses (although we know this can be tricky when you have extra pressure on your bladder, so do your best!)

Moisturising your stretch marks when they are fresh (red or purple in colour) also reduces the chances of them getting worse and helps them fade more quickly. Why not convince your partner to rub a stretch mark preventing oil or moisturiser in for you? Or incorporate a little bit of extra time to do this yourself into your daily routine.

2.      Try to control the rate at which you gain weight

Stretch marks predominantly occur because you gain (or lose) weight faster than the elastin in your skin can accommodate for, hence the tear-like appearance of stretch marks. Doing your best to control the speed of your weight gain throughout pregnancy can be a really effective way of preventing stretch marks. Try to plan a diet and exercise plan that will nourish you and your baby without you rapidly gaining weight.

3.      Wait for them to fade, change your outlook

Over time, any stretch marks that you do develop during pregnancy will fade and become much less noticeable. Unfortunately, experts haven’t created a fool-proof way of preventing or reducing the appearance of stretch marks yet, so it might be better altering your outlook and embrace your stretch marks. They are, after all, a gorgeous reminder of the little miracle your body is making.

We hope that this information has been helpful. While you’re here, why not take a look at our range of baby scans, we offer both 2D and 4D scans that give you a beautiful glimpse into your baby’s world.

Are you trying to decide how and when to announce your pregnancy? Many women want to tell the whole world right away, but sharing your news on social media can make your nearest and dearest feel part of the masses and somewhat unimportant. Planning a unique, intimate pregnancy announcement is without a doubt the best way to share your special news!

When is the best time to announce a pregnancy?

No one can tell you when to announce your pregnancy, that decision is entirely up to you. Tell people when you feel comfortable and ready to. But, understanding how long other women wait to make their announcement, and why, might help you decide when the perfect time to make your announcement is.

When to tell your partner that you’re pregnant?

A lot of women are torn between telling their partner the minute they find out and waiting to reveal it in a more special way. We think that this is a decision best made according to your partner. After all, you know them better than we do.

Will they be upset if you don’t tell them right away? Or will they be happy that you took some time to plan something a little more special? However long you wait, your partner is sure to be overjoyed!

When to tell your family and friends?

Many women feel it’s better to wait until at least 12 weeks into their pregnancy before telling their family and friends because this is the point at which the likelihood of miscarriage dramatically reduces.

Alternatively, some mums will wait at least 16 weeks so that they can also reveal the gender of the baby (although you might start struggling to conceal your bump at this point!) If this sounds like the perfect time for you to reveal your pregnancy, why not book one of our simplyGender scans? Available from 16 to 26 weeks.

 

Pregnancy Announcement Ideas:

If you’re feeling creative then there are endless ways to announce your pregnancy. Here are some of our top picks:

  • Use your scan photos – A lovely way to reveal your pregnancy is to have some scan pictures pre-prepared for family and friends to look at, these first glimpses of the baby (or babies) are incredibly precious. Tuck your scan photos inside a card and enjoy the moment of delight and surprise when they open the card to reveal your surprise! 

If you want to reveal your pregnancy this way, but you can’t wait until your first NHS scan, why not book an earlyAssure scan? Available from as early as 8 weeks, you’ll take home 2 glossy black and white photographs to share with your loved ones.

  • Matching T-Shirts – why not host a pregnancy announcement party, and turn up in matching Mummy and Daddy t-shirts. The look on your family and friends’ faces will be priceless!
  • Get your pets involved – there are a lot of ways you can involve your furry friends in your pregnancy announcement. You can hold a photoshoot, dress them up, or have them jump up on you when you ask them where the baby is… (with a little bit of training.)
  • Write a personal message – handwritten messages are special enough nowadays, but writing one to tell someone special that your pregnant is sure to bring a tear to their eye.
  • Do a photoshoot with your other children – like the picture above, if you already have children you can stage a photoshoot letting your family and friends know that they’re being promoted to big brother/sister.

Whenever and however you decide to announce your pregnancy, we’re sure it’ll be a truly magical moment. Later in your pregnancy, you can get all your family and friends together again to meet your baby in 4D with one of First Encounter’s amazing 4D Ultrasound scans. We love the Deluxe4D scan, take a look and book yours now.

You’re not alone if you’ve experienced a little bit of bleeding your first trimester of pregnancy, 20% of pregnant women experience bleeding during the first 12 weeks according to Web MD, and a lot of the time there is no need for alarm.

However, bleeding can be a sign that something isn’t right, so it’s important that you know what could be causing you to bleed, and at what point you should call the doctor or hospital.

While we try to provide the most reliable information we can, if you do bleed during your pregnancy, we recommend that you get the opinion of a trained professional who can assess your individual circumstances.

Reasons you might experience some bleeding in your first trimester:

Implantation bleeding

As your embryo implants, you can experience some spotting. This happens around 6-12 days after you conceive, the bleeding should be incredibly light and last only a few hours or days at most.

Miscarriage

According to the information provided by the NHS, vaginal bleeding accompanied by cramping and pain in your lower abdomen can be a sign that you are miscarrying. Miscarriages occur in roughly 1 in 8 pregnancies. In most cases, the cause of a miscarriage is unknown and couldn’t have been prevented.

Ectopic Pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancy is when the embryo develops in the fallopian tube rather than in the womb. This type of pregnancy occurs in roughly 2% of pregnancies according to WebMD. We have a separate blog all about ectopic pregnancies that you can take a look at here:

Read our Ectopic Pregnancy Blog >

Reasons you might experience some bleeding in your second or third trimester:

Bleeding later on in your pregnancy can often be a sign of a more serious problem. We recommend going to the doctors or the hospital right away if you experience bleeding during your second or third trimester.

Placenta Previa

Placenta Previa is a condition where the placenta has moved or developed very low down in the uterus and can even completely cover the cervix. This condition occurs in roughly 2% of pregnancies & is often accompanied by heavy bleeding, stomach cramps and backache.

Placental Abruption

Bleeding or spotting in the late stages of your pregnancy might indicate that a placental abruption has occurred, this means that the placenta has completely detached from the wall of your uterus. This puts mum and baby a high risk as you are both losing blood very quickly. If you suspect this might be happening it is important that you seek immediate medical attention.

Premature Labour

If you are under 37 weeks pregnant and your bleeding is accompanied by regular contractions or a regular tightening sensation you might be going into premature labour. Other signs of premature labour include a “show” or mucus plug coming out of the vagina, or a gush or trickle of fluid (your waters breaking). If you experience any of these symptoms you should call your midwife or local maternity unit straight away.

During any of our scans, our trained sonographers are able to provide medical advice and reassurance if you have experienced any bleeding during your pregnancy prior to attending. This information is easily passed onto the NHS if necessary.

Our earlyAssure scan is ideal if you are seeking reassurance and advice before your first NHS scan, and is available from 8-13 weeks.

Book an easrlyAssure scan >

Going to a baby group for the first time can be incredibly daunting, but if you can find a baby group that you and your little both enjoy there are lots of benefits! Here at First Encounters, we have put together a helpful list of baby groups that you can attend near to our Cardiff clinic.

 

Baby groups allow you to socialise with other parents whilst your baby has the opportunity to learn and play alongside children of a similar age. This can help them to establish basic social skills, improve their confidence and enable them to make friends for the future. Many classes are also based around children learning a skill which can be equally, if not more beneficial for your baby’s development.

Baby Groups in the Cardiff Area:

We have put together a list of the most popular baby groups, local to Cardiff, that cover a range of different activities. There’s bound to be something that takes your fancy! Please click on the name of the baby group to find out more information.

Turtle Tots is a class that teaches your baby to swim whilst promoting water safety. There are lots of classes to choose from, catering for newborns, toddlers and young children.

Parc Play host a range of different events throughout the year. For example, Teddy bears picnics, seasonally themed events such as Halloween, and Macmillan Coffee Mornings.

Sunny Bears host two classes a week – Baby Bears for children up to 12 months old, and Messy Bears for children 6 months – 5 years old.

Classes give your little one an Introduction to music from birth to 4 years old. Children and their parents sing songs and play games, from nursery rhymes to folk songs and original baby songs.

The Creation Station offers a variety of classes for children who are 0-5 years old! These messy arts and crafts lessons will ignite a creative spark in your little ones!

We hope that this inspires you to try a baby group. If you are currently pregnant – why not book one of our scans? Please don’t hesitate to contact us if there’s anything else we can help you with.