Being healthy throughout your pregnancy includes your body as well as your mind, so it’s best to nourish both during the next few months by making some lifestyle changes while you are pregnant. Here are a few ways that can help you and your developing baby stay healthy:
Alcohol, Drug Use & Smoking
No Amount of Alcohol During Pregnancy Is Safe
Drinking any type of alcohol (e.g., beer, wine, coolers, hard liquor) during pregnancy can be harmful to your baby. Alcohol during pregnancy can cause fetal brain damage and other defects. It is safer not to drink during pregnancy or to stop drinking when you’re trying to get pregnant.
Drinking alcohol when you’re pregnant can lead to:
- early birth
- Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)
Drug Use Can Have Harmful Effects on You and Your Baby
Some drugs, like cocaine and marijuana, increase your risk of miscarriage and preterm birth. Using drugs in pregnancy can cause your baby to be addicted to the drug at birth.
Smoking Is the Leading Cause of Low Birth Weight and Early Birth
If you smoke, cutting down the amount or quitting altogether is recommended. Second hand smoke is also harmful to you and your baby. Reduce your exposure to second hand smoke. If your partner, family member or friend smokes, ask them to smoke outside and away from you and your baby. For more information:
Harmful Environmental Exposures
Your body is the first environment for your baby. In your daily life, harmful environmental exposures can affect the growth of your baby. Most babies are born healthy. To improve the chances of having a healthy baby it is important to be aware and reduce your exposures to harmful substances.
Video: Creating Healthy Environment for Kids Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health and Environment
Zika is a recent and rising concern for pregnant individuals. It is a virus that is spread through the bite of infected mosquitoes. It causes a condition called microcephaly, an abnormally small head in a newborn possibly leading to lifelong developmental problems. Learn more and stay updated on Zika during your pregnancy.
Intimate Partner Violence
Pregnancy brings many changes. Having support from someone that you can trust and feel comfortable with can make a difference. However, some pregnant individuals may experience violence during pregnancy.
Intimate partner violence can affect any individual, and is defined as any behaviour within a current or former intimate relationship that causes physical, sexual or psychological harm, including acts of physical aggression, sexual coercion, psychological abuse and controlling behaviours.
Intimate partner violence can affect both the pregnant individual as well as the outcome of the birth. If you are experiencing intimate partner violence, please reach out for help.
For more information and to get the confidential support and services you need, call:
Toronto Public Health 416-338-7600 from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm or
Assaulted Women’s Helpline 416-863-0511 (24 hours)
Being active during pregnancy has many benefits, including reducing pregnancy discomforts, improving mood, sleep and energy levels, and promoting appropriate weight gain. It is important to check with your health care provider before starting any activity in pregnancy, even if you were active before pregnancy.
If you have no complications with your pregnancy, choose an activity with less stress on your joints, such as walking, stationary biking, swimming, or yoga.
Video: Prenatal Fitness – The Expert featuring Dr. Michelle Mottola
Good oral health during pregnancy is important for you and your baby.
- Gum disease is associated with having a premature birth or a low birth-weight baby.
- If your gums were red, swollen or bled easily before pregnancy, hormonal changes can often make the problem worse. Daily brushing and flossing can prevent this.
Tips for good oral health:
- Visit a dental professional for a check-up or any problems with your mouth and teeth. Let him/her know that you are pregnant and when your baby is due
- Brush twice a day with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, floss daily. Good oral hygiene practices can prevent gum disease and tooth decay
- Eat a healthy diet
Sex During Pregnancy
Intercourse will not hurt your baby. However, if you are having complications in your pregnancy, talk to your health care provider before engaging in sexual activity.
When you are pregnant, your interest in sex will change. As your pregnancy progresses and you get bigger, you may find your need to try different positions, such as lying on your side with your partner behind you. Read more about Sex During Pregnancy.
Even though you are pregnant, it is important to take precautions to avoid getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
If there is any chance of getting an STI and/or HIV, use condoms. If you are HIV positive, there are medications you can use to reduce the chance of HIV transmission to your baby.
Toronto Public Health offers free anonymous HIV/STI counselling services.
STIs that can cause harm during pregnancy:
Zika is a recent and rising concern for pregnant individuals. It is a virus that is spread through the bite of infected mosquitoes. It causes a condition called microcephaly, an abnormally small head in a newborn possibly leading to lifelong developmental problems. The Zika virus has been detected in semen and sexual transmission of the virus has been confirmed in both Canada and the United States. Learn more and stay updated on Zika during your pregnancy.
Working During Pregnancy
It is generally safe to work during pregnancy. Whether you have to modify your work depends on how you feel during your pregnancy and the type of work that you do. Some potential health risks in the workplace include: lifting heavy objects, standing for long periods of time, exposure to radiation, lead and/or other heavy metals.
For more information about working during pregnancy please visit Best Start: Work and Pregnancy do mix.