Multivitamins and Pregnancy in the News

You may well have heard on the news this month about the widely publicised results of a study published in the BMJ journal’s Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin which indicate that multivitamin and mineral supplements are unlikely to be needed by most pregnant women.

The main message about taking multivitamins during pregnancy to come out of this study is that although many women feel as though it could help them, especially if they’re having difficulty getting a balanced diet, some multivitamin supplements could actually be harmful to the baby.  This is because some multivitamin supplements aren’t made specifically for pregnant women and therefore could contain high levels of vitamins such as vitamin A (also known as retinol).  Too much vitamin A during pregnancy could harm your unborn baby and this is why mums-to-be are advised not to eat liver products for example, such as pâté, or even fish liver oil because these are very high in vitamin A.

Normal Intake – Keeping Healthy

The normal intake of vitamin A as part of a daily, balanced diet should be around 0.6mg a day for women. Making sure that you have a nutritious diet and physical activity will contribute towards keeping mother and baby healthy during pregnancy.  It is obviously also important to avoid smoking and drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

Vitamin D / Folic Acid

One vitamin that we in the UK often have low levels of is vitamin D. This vitamin however can really help to improve a baby’s growth, and can reduce the risk of things like spina bifida, heart or limb defects, some brain tumours, and rickets. This is why women are advised to take 400 micrograms a day before getting pregnant, and to continue doing so right up until 13 weeks mark.

The Importance of Good Antenatal Care

One way to make sure that you are getting the right advice and help during pregnancy is good antenatal care.  I offer Antenatal care until 20 weeks of pregnancy, and I work with Gordon Cochrane and Dean Meredith to provide a comprehensive Antenatal package.

I combine an orthodox practice with a genuinely holistic approach. The comprehensive antenatal and delivery package that I offer includes a dating scan, monthly antenatal assessments (until 28 weeks), screening for Down’s syndrome. (11-13 weeks), anomaly scan (20 weeks), 4D UltraSound bonding scan, growth scan (34 weeks), weekly antenatal appointments (from 34 weeks), presence and supervision of normal delivery, and Caesarean section and instrumental vaginal delivery (ventouse and forceps).

To book an appointment call 020 7390 8041, or contact me online here.

Greater Risks With a High BMI

The results of research published online by JAMA Neurol and highlighted in a recent BMJ article indicate that obese women i.e. those with a BMI of 30 or greater who use oral contraceptives could be at greater risk of suffering a (rare) type of stroke called cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT).  This is essentially a stroke caused by thrombosis of the venous channels in the brain.  This latest research helps to illustrate as part of the wider picture of women’s health how important a factor high BMI is in increasing the risk of many serious conditions, including gynaecological conditions. Studies have shown too that pregnant women with a BMI that is too high (or indeed too low) can be subject to maternal complications that can pose risks to their unborn child as well as to themselves, and lead to increased numbers and increased duration of maternal admissions.

Risks of High BMI Well Known

RCOG figures for example show that you could be considered to be overweight if your BMI is between 25 and 29.9, and obese if it is 30 or above. 20% of pregnant women for example are thought to have a BMI of 30 or above at the start of their pregnancy.  The kinds increased risks that a mother can face during pregnancy if they have a high BMI include gestational diabetes, thrombosis, high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia.

The kinds of risks to the baby due to a mother’s high BMI during pregnancy include higher risks of miscarriage and stillbirth, a higher risk of the baby having neural tube defects, and higher risks of the child developing obesity and diabetes in later life. If the mother has a very high BMI during labour and birth for example this can increase the risk of the baby being born early and of the labour taking longer with a higher risk of the need for e.g. an emergency caesarean.  It could also cause anaesthetic complications and heavy bleeding after the birth.

Support and Expert Help

Getting high quality, professional help during pregnancy and delivery can be a way to make sure that risks such as these can be reduced, and the health of mother and baby can be closely monitored and protected as much as possible.  Making sure that the mother has a healthy BMI and is doing the right things to reduce health risks can also be good news for the child’s health in later life.

Antenatal and Delivery Package

Along with my colleague Gordon Cochrane I offer a comprehensive Antenatal and Delivery Package.  You can find out more about it on my website here:

Comprehensive Health Check

For women who would like to get a comprehensive health check that covers all the important aspects of their health, as well as a comprehensive and reliable assessment of other areas of their health where they feel that they may have cause for concern I offer a Wellwoman Health Check.  Find out more about it on my website here:

The Importance of Great Antenatal Care

What happens at the very beginning of life is incredibly important because the health differences in our children start before birth. The quality of the antenatal care you receive can therefore be an important factor in shaping your child’s future, and making sure that it is more likely to be a healthy one.

Birth rates are rising. Inequalities in our society and geographical differences in antenatal care in the UK are just 2 factors that can increase the risks to the health of babies and their mothers. Our modern lives and culture mean that many women are having children later in life. This in itself can carry some extra risks for baby and mother, and can mean that getting the right type of monitoring, advice and care all the way through the pregnancy are especially important. Now more than ever it is widely understood and accepted that keeping a very close and experienced eye on the health of the foetus and the mother during pregnancy is proven way to improve the outcomes of maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality for all pregnancies. So many parents-to-be are now willing to search for a private antenatal care package that can give them a high level of care at this vital development stage, plus the right level of care for the delivery and beyond.

I am an experienced Consultant Gynaecologist and Obstetrician who is passionate about natural childbirth. I ran a high risk obstetric practice in the NHS and I am an authority on high blood pressure in pregnancy (pre-eclampsia). My father Norman Morris, was the obstetrician who pioneered the development of a more humane approach to childbirth in the United Kingdom. It is this background and experience that has helped me put together truly comprehensive antenatal and delivery package that is designed to achieve the best possible outcome for mother and baby. Working alongside me on this are my Colleagues Gordon Cochrane DCR DMU who is an experienced expert in obstetric ultrasound, and Esther who is a skilled breast feeding midwife who also teaches baby massage and bonding techniques. Between us we are able to offer a package that holistic as well as comprehensive. This service is delivered through my private obstetric practice at The Portland Hospital in London.

The many different elements that make up this package include: a dating scan, monthly antenatal assessments (until 28 weeks), screening for Down’s syndrome. (11-13 weeks), an anomaly scan (20 weeks), a 4D UltraSound bonding scan, a growth scan (34 weeks), weekly antenatal appointments (from 34 weeks), and presence and supervision of normal delivery.

You can find more information about me, my team, and the obstetrics services that we offer by looking on at my website here. If you would like to book an appointment for the comprehensive antenatal and delivery package you can contact us online or call +44 (0)20 7390 8041.

What Do We Know About The Harmony Down’s Syndrome Test?

Down’s syndrome affects 1 in 1000 babies and is something that happens at the conception stage when the genetic material from the egg and sperm first join together. Screening in pregnancy is therefore commonplace but despite providing some idea of the likelihood of your baby having Down’s syndrome, screening doesn’t provide a definite answer. That is left to the kinds of diagnostic tests that are carried out only if the screening shows a higher chance of Down’s. Harmony is diagnostic test.

Risks & Accuracy

The Harmony Test is a relative newcomer to popular Down’s diagnostic tests. Prior to Harmony and still common antenatal diagnostic tests (although proving to be a lot less popular now that the safer Harmony Test is here) include:

CVS – Chronic Villus Sampling

CVS is a test that’s only really carried out if other screening, tests, family history may indicate that it could be appropriate, and the patient of course has the choice of whether to go ahead with it. CVS is generally carried out between 11 and 13 weeks. As well as detecting Down’s CVS can also detect some other genetic conditions.

The CVS test involves your obstetrician taking a sample of your placenta. The sample is taken by needle through the tummy and womb, or by forceps and a thin tube through the cervix (guided by ultrasound).

In essence the CVS is an invasive procedure because it requires cells to be taken from the placenta and therefore it does carry a 1% to 2% risk of miscarriage. There have also been some rare cases of infection.


Amniocentesis is offered where there it is believed that the baby is at significant risk of developing a serious condition. The test is usually offered between 15 and 20 weeks of pregnancy and although it has a lower miscarriage risk than CVS (about 1%), Amniocentesis is also an invasive procedure because a needle is used to extract some amniotic fluid for testing. This is the fluid that surrounds the foetus in the womb. Just as with CVS, the invasive nature of Amniocentesis also brings the very small risk of infection.

Why Could Harmony Be A Better Option For Down’s Testing?

Quite simply the Harmony Test is very accurate and extremely safe.

The Harmony Prenatal Test uses a simple blood test rather than an invasive procedure. It does not involve any disturbance of the womb or placenta, and it is this that dramatically reduces the risk of miscarriage. The Harmony Test can also correctly predict Down’s syndrome in more than 99% of cases because it can isolate ‘cell free’ Fetal DNA (the building bricks of chromosomes). This makes the Harmony Test very accurate.

This revolutionary test is predicted to reduce the need for invasive procedures by over 90%!

Safety and certainty are a powerful combination in Down’s testing, and this is the reason why Harmony has become so popular so quickly. You can find out more about the Harmony Prenatal Test on my website here.

How do I go about booking a test?

If you would like make an appointment with me for a Harmony Prenatal Test please call 0203 318 0263.

What Happens Next?

I will then organize an ultrasound on the day of the test to confirm the pregnancy is 10 weeks or more and also to assess for multiple pregnancy. This is because the test is not used in multiple pregnancies. You and your partner will then have a consultation with me to go through the test, and the blood sample is then taken. Your blood sample is then sent to a lab in the USA where the test itself is carried out. You can expect to receive the results within 2 weeks.