Having a healthy pregnancy with a healthy lifestyle

During pregnancy it’s more important than ever to make healthy choices to support you and your growing baby. Knowing what’s best and actually doing it, can be very different things, that’s where we can help. Maternity services across Sussex are here to support you make good choices.
Have you registered with a midwife yet?
Read about how to self-refer in our blog: Book before 10 weeks..

Read our blog about staying healthy during pregnancy.

Keeping Well in Pregnancy

Healthy choices for you are healthy choices for your baby.

What you put into your body makes its way through to your baby


  • What you eat
  • What you drink
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Drugs

Activity and exercise also impact your baby. Our Wellbeing and Exercise in Pregnancy Programme (WEPP) can provide guidance and support. There are many no-cost and low-cost activities, like walking in your local park, that can help you stay healthy.


Keep up your normal daily physical activity or exercise (sport, running, yoga, dancing, or even walking to the shops and back) for as long as you feel comfortable.

Exercise is not dangerous for your baby, but it’s worth letting your fitness instructor know you are pregnant if you are joining a new class. Or you can look for a pregnancy-specific pilates or yoga class, which will be tailored to pregnant people. There is evidence that active women are less likely to experience problems in later pregnancy and labour.

Looking after your mental health

Stress, anxiety and depression affect a significant number of pregnant women and people during pregnancy and are also common in the postnatal period. Relaxation techniques can help you to manage stress and anxiety levels during pregnancy. This can lead to more positive birth outcomes and development of your growing baby.

What you eat and drink

Eating healthily during pregnancy will help your baby to develop and grow.

It is important to eat a variety of different foods every day.

You may be able to get help to buy healthy food and milk through the Healthy Start Scheme if you’re pregnant or have a child under four years old and receive certain benefits or you’re pregnant and under 18. Taking folic acid and vitamin D if you’re planning a pregnancy and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy is also recommended.


There is no proven safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy, and studies show even low levels of alcohol may affect the developing baby. Chief Medical Officers and Midwives advise to avoid alcohol completely during pregnancy as this is safest.

Alcohol passes from your blood to your baby. Alcohol can interfere with your baby’s oxygen and nutrient supply, leading to birth defects, reduced growth and long-term learning and behaviour problems.


Protecting your baby from tobacco smoke is one of the best things you can do to give your child a healthy start in life.

It can be difficult to stop smoking, but it’s never too late to quit. See our smoking leaflet for advice and how to access support. Visit our having a health pregnancy if you smoke page for more information. We also have a blog: Smoking during pregnancy.


Taking recreational drugs when you’re pregnant, even in small quantities, can put your baby’s health at serious risk. Taking drugs can increase the risk of stillbirth or of your baby dying in the first few weeks or months of life.

If you are on any prescribed medications for a medical condition, continue to take these unless your doctor or midwife tells you to stop. Visit our maternal medicine page for more information.

How we are helping people in Sussex have safe pregnancies and healthy babies

What are we doing?

We are working across the whole of Sussex to try and help more people have safe pregnancies and healthy babies.

When it comes to helping you have a healthy lifestyle throughout your pregnancies, here are the things we’re doing:

  • Improving continuity of care so pregnant people see the same midwife for most of their care throughout their pregnancy.
  • Increasing access to perinatal mental health support. (Perinatal is the period of time when you become pregnant and up to a year after giving birth).
  • Developing targeted, personalised approaches to health promotion that support pregnant people in making healthier choices, such as Ready for Pregnancy and Ready for Parenthood, using the principles of making every contact count.
  • Raising awareness of our services to make it easier for pregnant people to access the support they want and need.
  • Collaborating across organisational and professional boundaries to ensure a joined-up approach to reach people earlier in their pregnancies and put the best support in place.
  • Facilitating access to cultural competency training for health professionals to ensure healthy lifestyle information and advice is culturally relevant and appropriate.
  • Providing access to the Wellbeing and Exercise in Pregnancy Programme (WEPP):

What can you do?

Register your pregnancy with your preferred maternity service early.

  • The sooner we know about your pregnancy, the sooner we can support you. Read about how to self-refer and find the link to book in our blog: Book before 10 weeks.
  • Talk to your midwife, health visitor, GP or pharmacist about any concerns. They can put you in touch with support.
  • Access the relevant healthy lifestyle services through your midwife, e.g. quitting smoking, weight management, wellbeing.
  • If you’re living on a low income, there are government benefits specifically for people who are pregnant that can help with the cost of healthy food. Your midwife, health visitor or GP can tell you where to get more information.

Sussex Equity & Equality Programme

We are changing our services to improve Perinatal Equity and Equality in Sussex.

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