Planning a Healthy Pregnancy
Becoming a parent is an exciting time in anyone's life. Planning a healthy pregnancy is a great start to a healthy baby.
Babies begin to develop even before women know they're pregnant. By the time a woman has a "missed period", she's already four weeks pregnant.
Planning ahead for pregnancy at least three months before conceiving will give you and your partner time to make positive changes to your diet, physical activity, lifestyle, and resolve any concerns or problems.
- Preconception checkup and folic acid
A preconception checkup is an important step in having the healthiest pregnancy possible. If you don't have a family doctor, find a list of doctors accepting new patients.
Taking folic acid can help reduce the risk of neural tube defects by as much as 70 per cent if taken before you get pregnant. These defects occur before most woman know they are pregnant (within the first 30 days after conception).
- Alcohol and smoking before and during pregnancy
Consuming alcohol during pregnancy can cause brain damage and birth defects to the developing baby (fetus). It's important to stop drinking alcohol before becoming pregnant. Harm to the fetus from alcohol can occur very early in pregnancy, before most women even know they're pregnant.
Smoking may put you at risk of having a miscarriage or low birth weight baby. A low birth weight baby may suffer serious health problems, which may follow them into adulthood. It's best to stop smoking prior to becoming pregnant and ensure your home and car is smoke-free.
For help with quitting smoking visit Smoker’s Helpline or call Niagara Region Public Health’s Tobacco Hotline at 905-688-8248 ext. 7393.
Cannabis is legal in Canada, but it doesn’t mean it's safe. Learn more about the effects of cannabis on pregnancy and the risks of cannabis on fertility, pregnancy, breastfeeding and parenting.
- Nutrition for expecting mothers
Eating habits can influence your future baby's health even before you're pregnant. That's why it's important to eat well when you're planning for pregnancy.
For free, confidential information on nutrition from a registered dietitian, call TeleHealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
- Public Health Agency of Canada
- Order a Planning Ahead for a Healthy Pregnancy Kit - a free, electronic resource for people thinking about becoming pregnant