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How to Have a Healthy Pregnancy

Learn about how to have a healthy pregnancy.

Healthy Eating During Pregnancy

Healthy eating plays an important role in a healthy pregnancy. Eating well helps your baby's growth and development, helps you feel better, have more energy and helps you gain a healthy amount of weight.

Yes. Take a multivitamin that contains 0.4 mg of folic acid and 16-20 mg of iron. Your health care provider can help you choose the right multivitamin for you. Start your vitamin at least 3 months before pregnancy and continue taking throughout your pregnancy.

Follow the Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide (external link) to help you choose the right amount and type of food that is best for you and your baby.

Foods to Eat:

  • Vegetables and fruits - include within the recommended servings at least one dark green and one orange vegetable each day
  • Grain products - bread, rice and pasta of the whole-grain variety
  • Milk and milk alternatives - yogurt and cheese, and fortified soy beverages if you do not drink milk
  • Meat and meat alternatives - choose lean meats or alternatives such as dried peas, beans, tofu, and lentils

Use the My Food Guide Servings Tracker (external link) to help you track your food intake.

Foods to Avoid

  • Raw fish - especially shellfish, oysters and clams
  • Undercooked meat, poultry and seafood
  • Hot dogs and deli meats
  • Raw or lightly cooked eggs
  • Unpasteurized milk products - soft and semi-soft cheeses like brie or camembert
  • Unpasteurized juices - unpasteurized apple cider
  • Raw sprouts - alfalfa sprouts

Note: Avoid foods that have a higher risk of contamination from unsafe bacteria.

In your second and third trimesters, you need to add an extra two or three servings per day. You can add these to your meals or eat them as a snack. Below are some examples of two extra servings:

  • One piece of fruit and 3/4 cup of yogurt
  • One extra piece of toast at breakfast and an extra cup of milk at supper
  • Spinach salad made with 1 cup spinach, 1 hard-boiled egg, and 2 tbs of walnuts
  • Half an English muffin topped with 1 slice of swiss cheese and half a sliced pear

Gaining weight while pregnant supports your baby's growth and prepares you for breastfeeding. How much you should gain depends on what you weighed before getting pregnant. Visit the Pregnancy Weight Gain Calculator (external link) to learn how much weight is healthy for you.

Staying Active During Pregnancy

Physical activity is an important way to prevent disease and stay healthy. Physical activity reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, and stress.

  • improve mood and self-image
  • help ensure appropriate weight gain
  • help you relax and reduce stress
  • promote better sleep
  • help build your stamina for labour and delivery
  • speed up your recovery after delivery
  • help increase your energy level

Start easy and progress gradually! Try activities such as walking and swimming. Even 5 minutes each day will help. Making the decision to exercise during pregnancy can be your first step towards living a long, healthy life for you and your family.


  1. Don't overdo it! You should be able to carry on a normal conversation while exercising. If you are feeling especially tired one day, take it easy and rest.
  2. Keep cool and hydrated - Drink lots of water before, during and after exercise to avoid dehydration.

If you are already active, continue your program, but think about how you will adjust your weight-bearing exercises to low-impact activities such as walking and swimming as your pregnancy progresses. Listen to your body as it changes and only do what feels comfortable for you.

Weight training is safe, as long as the resistance is light to moderate. After your fourth month of pregnancy, experts suggest modifying exercises that require lying on your back so that they are done on your side, or while standing or sitting.

Oral Health During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, it is very important to maintain good oral health. Hormonal changes can effect the health of your gums and teeth, causing pregnancy gingivitis, which is quite common.

Yes, in fact, regular check ups and cleanings are the best way to detect and prevent "pregnancy gingivitis". This type of gingivitis happens because your estrogen and progesterone hormones have increased, which can cause swollen, red or irritated gums.

Get a dental check up in your first or second trimester. Most of the time, gum problems will disappear after child birth. If they continue, contact your oral health professional.

To help keep your teeth strong and healthy during pregnancy, make sure you:

  1. Eat foods high in:
    1. Calcium - if calcium levels are low, your body will take it from your own bones and teeth for your baby
    2. Vitamin A, C, and D
    3. Protein
    4. Phosphorous
  2. If you vomit from morning sickness, ensure you rinse your mouth with fluoride mouth wash. Stomach acid can damage your teeth and cause them to decay.
  3. Brush at least 2 times each day and floss daily

Good oral health can help prevent a number of risks to you and your baby. Pregnant mothers with poor oral health have a risk of:

  • delivering a preterm baby
  • delivering a baby with a low birth weight
  • having preclampsia (high blood pressure in pregnancy)

Smoking, Alcohol, and Drug Use During Pregnancy

If you are planning a pregnancy, or are pregnant, you should think about making changes to ensure a healthy baby. One of the most important things a woman can do is avoid harmful substances such as alcohol, cigarettes, recreational drugs, and some medications.

Quitting or reducing smoking is a smart decision, especially when pregnant. Smoking during pregnancy can cause:

  • Placental problems, vaginal bleeding
  • Premature rupture of membranes
  • Preterm labour
  • Low birth weight baby
  • Miscarriage
  • Your baby to have under developed lungs

Exposure to second hand smoke has been linked to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (external link)(SIDS). Babies who breathe second-hand smoke contract more colds, chest infections and asthma than those that don't. Keep your home and car smoke-free!

Although nicotine is passed to your baby through your breast milk, breastfeeding is very important for your baby. Smoke cigarettes after you breastfeed your baby and as few cigarettes as possible.

Note: Breast milk helps protect your baby's lungs from the negative affects of second-hand smoke, however smoking may decrease the amount of milk produced.

The safest choice is not to drink any alcohol during pregnancy. Alcohol-exposed pregnancies have more of a chance of complications, loss or effects to the baby, including Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) (external link). Children born with FASD may have challenges with:. FASD may include problems with:

  • Motor skills
  • Physical health
  • Learning and/or behaviour
  • Thinking things through
  • Learning from experience
  • Understanding consequences of actions
  • Remembering things

For more information, please visit Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health (external link).

  • Prescription medications
    • If you take prescription medications, it is best to seek the advice of a health care professional. Some types of medications can be harmful to your baby, and others may not pose a risk.
    • Some medications that may not be considered safe during pregnancy include:
      • Prescription medications
      • Over-the-counter drugs
      • Some natural herbs and supplements
      • Natural remedies
  • Cannabis
    • It is safest to avoid using cannabis if you are pregnant because it can impact your baby’s developing brain and overall health.
    • Cannabis, in any form, is not recommended for the treatment of nausea and vomiting, anxiety or pain during pregnancy. Please speak to your healthcare provider about other options.
    • Learn more about cannabis and your health (external link).
  • Opioids
    • Some individuals take prescribed opioids for pain control, others use illicit forms, and some use opiate substitution to treat an addiction to other drugs.
    • Opioids can affect your health and your baby’s health. Talk to your health care provider before you stop using opioids. There are safe and effective treatments available to help manage opioid use during pregnancy.
    • If health care providers are aware, newborns can be monitored and possibly receive treatment for opioid withdrawal following birth.
  • Cocaine
    • Cocaine is the second most common illicit drug used during pregnancy. Cocaine use during pregnancy has been associated with unhealthy pregnancies, pregnancy loss and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
    • Speak with your health care provider about where to find support during your pregnancy.
  • Amphetamines
    • Some amphetamines are taken as prescribed medication to manage attention impairments or sleep disorders and others have been used as an illicit drug.
    • Using amphetamines during pregnancy can affect your pregnancy and your baby. Speak with your health care provider about where to find support during your pregnancy.
  • Caffeine
    • Health Canada recommends that women of reproductive age consume no more than 300mg of caffeine per day. That is about one to two cups of coffee a day.
    • Water and milk are good alternatives that will provide you with more of the nutrients your baby needs.

Talk to a health care provider

If you are concerned about any substance use, discuss this with your health care provider or contact Hope Place Centres (external link).

  • This treatment centre provides an abstinence-based approach, providing care specific to a woman's individual needs.

Emotional Health During Pregnancy


When you are pregnant, the thoughts and feelings you experience can range from happiness and contentment - "I can't wait to hold my new baby", "I'm going to be a great mother" - to worry and stress - "Will I ever lose all this weight?", "Can I really support a baby on this pay cheque?" It's normal to experience these types of feelings. Your moods are changing right along with your hormones and your body. That's why your emotional health is more important than ever!

You need your rest

Your body is busy 24 hours a day as your baby develops and it's hard work. If you're tired, don't skip sleep. Put your feet up, take a nap or just slow down. You'll feel better physically and mentally.

Staying active and eating well can help keep your moods in check

Make sure you are eating enough to nourish your baby. Eat regularly - don't skip meals - and make sure you drink plenty of water. You also need physical activity. A walk outside or swimming at the pool can leave you feeling refreshed.

Stay away from stress

If certain people or situations cause you stress, avoid them as much as possible. And don't take on added responsibilities at work or in your community. Having too much to do can be stressful at the best of times. Learn to say “no!”

I'm fine one minute and in tears the next. Why am I so moody?

Mood swings are a normal part of pregnancy. Pregnancy triggers an outpouring of various hormones. These hormones can change the level of brain chemicals (called neurotransmitters) that, in turn, regulate mood. Some women may be moody all through pregnancy, but it's most common around the sixth to tenth week and then again in the third trimester when your body is getting ready for labour and birth.

Learn about the signs and symptoms of perinatal mood disorders and where to go for help.

How can I decrease risks and exposure to toxins?


Avoiding Exposure to Toxins During Pregnancy

Increasing evidence supports the negative impact of environmental pollution on our health. Exposure to certain substances while pregnant may have severe impacts on your pregnancy or the health of your baby.

Be aware of your environment and how certain pollutants and toxins could affect your pregnancy.

  1. Use non-toxic cleaning products such as baking soda and vinegar
  2. Wash your hands frequently
  3. Take your outdoor shoes off inside the house
  4. Dust, vacuum, and mop at least once per week
  5. Open windows to air out indoor air pollutants and toxins