Lee Rodwell introduces this eight-page special report about the choices for a healthy pregnancy
Today, with libraries and bookshops full of books on pregnancy and childbirth, it would be easy to assume that every woman knows exactly what steps to take to maximise her chances of having both a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

Yet, says Jane Greenoak, deputy chief executive of the Health Education Authority, many are still unaware of some of the recent findings about diet and lifestyle which have implications for would-be parents. "Besides, just because one generation of women have got a particular message, it doesn't mean the next will have heard it.

"On the other hand, pregnant women are particularly receptive to health messages because they care not only about their own well being but about that of their baby. That is why it is so important that the right messages get across."

This special report is intended to act as a guide to all prospective parents. Based on the latest research and professional advice, it looks at the issues which can affect not only the mother's health during pregnancy, but that of the unborn child.

If you are still at the stage of planning a future pregnancy, this report will tell you how to get off to a healthy start with pre-conception care. If you are already pregnant, it will help you make an informed choice about where - and how - you want to have your baby.

Other important topics include diet during pregnancy - including the risks known to be associated with drinking and smoking - and the benefits of exercise and relaxation.

The most commonly asked question about pregnancy are answered and there is also a guide to alternative therapies.

"There are all sorts of ways, before, during and after pregnancy, women can look after their own health and that of their baby," says Jane Greenoak. "The message we want to get across is that being healthy doesn't have to be difficult or expensive. We want to make it easier for people to make healthy choices."

So whether you are already pregnant, or just hoping to be, this report will help you decide what to do to keep fit and well - and give your child the best possible start in life.