Before taking a prenatal class, prepare yourself by taking our “Have a Healthy Pregnancy” modules. This information is best received early on in your pregnancy.
There is lots of information out there about pregnancy. It can be hard to know what is best for you and your baby. Below you will find reliable information and links on a variety of topics to help you have a healthy pregnancy.
“Have a Healthy Pregnancy: Prenatal Modules”
During pregnancy your body is going through many changes. To support these changes and the growth of your baby, you will need to eat a variety of foods. For an overview of healthy eating and the nutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy and breastfeeding check out the Healthy Eating for a Healthy Baby resource and watch this short video.
Visit the Healthy Eating During Pregnancy section to learn more about the following:
- baby building nutrients
- healthy weight gain during pregnancy
- caffeine and herbal teas
- food safety
- nausea and vomiting during pregnancy
Being active during pregnancy benefits both you and baby! Check with your health care provider before beginning or changing your physical activity. Physical activity during pregnancy can lead to:
- less stress
- more energy
- more oxygen for your baby
- better posture
- a healthy weight gain
- less risk of developing pregnancy-related diabetes or high blood pressure
- an easier recovery after birth
Check out this Active Pregnancy resource to help you stay active. Before talking to your health care provider about being active in pregnancy, you may find this Physical Activity Readiness Screen to be helpful. Bring this screen with you to your appointment to start the conversation.
All women without contraindication should be physically active throughout pregnancy. The 2018 Canadian Guidelines for Physical Activity throughout Pregnancy, reviews the recommendations and contraindications for being physically active in pregnancy.
Pregnancy can be a challenging time in a woman’s life. By taking care of yourself, you are taking care of your baby. If you have concerns about your mental health, just know that you are not alone! 10% of pregnant women require some kind of help for prenatal depression or anxiety.
Pregnancy Is Not Always What You Expect is a great resource to help answer your questions about:
- Taking care of your mental health before and during pregnancy.
- Understanding the risk factors that can lead to depression or anxiety during pregnancy.
- Knowing if you are depressed or anxious during pregnancy.
- Getting help and treatment.
If you’re living with depression, you may not have energy, interest in life, and/or the will to make things better. You may also have a negative view of yourself and the world. The future may seem hopeless. Depression is especially devastating during pregnancy or while adjusting to motherhood. Seeking help from your health care provider if you are experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety is very important. In addition to getting help, this workbook may help you manage your symptoms of depression.
Talking to someone you trust, your doctor, or a public health nurse can help you get the support you may need.
Stress! We feel it in our lives. Stress in itself is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes it forces us to do what needs to be done. At other times, stress can be overwhelming or chronic; this type of stress can affect your body and mind in a negative way.
Working through the following activities may help you recognize how stressed you are, while also teaching you about the impact of stress and some tips on how to reduce stress.
There are many different forms of abuse. Abuse can be physical, verbal, emotional, financial, and/or sexual. Abuse can be harmful to your baby and often starts, or gets worse, during pregnancy. It is important that you are aware of the signs of an unhealthy relationship. Knowing where to get help is important to protect the safety of you and your unborn baby.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing abuse, there is help available:
Alcohol, tobacco or drug use by the mother or father during pregnancy can harm the growing baby. Pregnancy provides a chance to make healthy choices to benefit the whole family.
When a pregnant woman smokes it increases the risk of having the baby early (before 37 weeks) or having a low-birth weight baby. It is best to quit smoking before pregnancy; however, stopping or cutting back at any time will help. Having a smoke-free home is also important for you, your baby and anyone else in the home’s health. To learn more about smoking during pregnancy and ways to quit or cut back, visit Pregnets. For information on smoking and supports in your area visit our Smoking/Vaping page.
Drinking alcohol while pregnant or breastfeeding can affect the health of you and your baby. There is no safe time, type or amount of alcohol for your growing baby. If you are a partner, family member, or friend of a pregnant woman you too have a role in supporting healthy pregnancies. Read more about having an alcohol free pregnancy by visiting this Alcohol-Free Pregnancy resource.
Pregnant women need to be careful when taking prescription, over-the-counter and herbal/natural products. Talk with your doctor about any medications or herbal products you are taking. Using illegal drugs during pregnancy can:
- affect the baby’s growth and development
- cause the baby to be born addicted to that drug
Studies have shown that cannabis use can affect your ability to get pregnant. Using cannabis during pregnancy causes the toxins to be carried through the mother’s blood to her fetus. Smoking reduces the supply of oxygen to the fetus. Once born, the baby may be of low birthweight, have reduced alertness and slower growth. Cannabis use during pregnancy has also been associated with longer-term developmental effects in children and adolescents, such as: decreases in: memory function, the ability to pay attention, reasoning and problem-solving skills, hyperactive behaviour and increased risk for future substance use. THC passes into the breast milk and to the baby’s fat cells and brain and can be stored for weeks. Some studies suggest that this exposure can lead to slower motor responses in baby.
Visit the Society of Gynecologists and Obstetricians – Substance Use in Pregnancy page for more information on protecting your health and the health of your baby.
Thrive is a program that offers support to mothers who are using substances or receiving methadone treatment. If you are pregnant or parenting children, Thrive can provide:
- In-hospital and support visits
- Parenting support and education
- Time for you to recognize your strengths, set goals and expand you supports
To contact the Thrive resource worker or make a referral call 613-340-0155 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have questions, concerns or need help quitting tobacco, alcohol or drugs please contact:
- Your family doctor
- The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit at 1-800-660-5853
- Centre for Addictions and Mental Health
- Lanark, Leeds & Grenville Addictions & Mental Health
Exposure to certain everyday substances in our homes, workplaces, and outdoor environment can also have harmful effects during pregnancy. Certain substances can negatively impact your growing baby.
Early and regular prenatal care will help you have a healthy pregnancy and baby. Each time you visit your health care provider, you can ask questions and receive information about each stage of pregnancy. The main goal of prenatal care is to ensure a healthy mother and baby. Regular prenatal care:
- Supports healthy pregnancy
- Prevents and identifies health concerns
- Provides the opportunity to ask questions
- Provides links to helpful community services
Pregnancy is a time of change for everyone – mother, baby, partner, and relationships. From conception to the birth of your baby (usually around 40 weeks), your body will go through a transformation as your baby develops and grows.
Pregnancy changes may include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Frequent urination
- Feeling tired
- Increase in appetite
- Increased vaginal discharge
- Tender breasts (Massaging your breasts throughout pregnancy helps with discomfort of tender breasts and helps your body prepare to make milk for your baby)
Understanding these physical changes, and how to cope with them, may help you have a healthy and comfortable pregnancy.
There is lots to think about as you get ready for the birth of your baby. There are many different feelings you may be having such as:
- Excitement to finally meet your baby
- Eagerness to have the pregnancy over
- Dread or fear of the pain that labour and delivery brings
For many people, learning as much as you can about what’s to come can help to lessen fears. Below are some things you can do to take charge.
Attend Prenatal Classes
Learn along with your peers about what you can expect during labour, delivery, and what happens right after baby is born. Have your questions answered by a Public Health Nurse, and learn from questions others may have. Check out the Clinics & Classes page to find a Prenatal Class near you.
Go on a Hospital Tour
A hospital tour can help you get familiar with the space where you will give birth. Often you can pre-register so all the paperwork can be done before you go into labour.
Talk to Your Health Care Provider
Ask your health care provider about what options you have during birth. Everyone is unique and has different labour and birth experiences. You and your health care provider are the experts in your health and pregnancy. Pregnancyinfo.ca also has some great information about labour and birth.
Have a Birth Plan
The best time to write a birth plan is after you have attended prenatal classes, went on a hospital tour, and spoken to your health care provider about your options. A birth plan can help you consider things like:
- Who you want in the room during labour and birth
- What type of pain control you prefer (natural methods, or medications)
- Any fears you have
- What you want to have happen immediately after baby is born:
- Skin-to-skin immediately after birth, for 1 hour until the first feed is recommended for all mothers and babies. Find out more about skin-to-skin on the Babies & Children page.
- How you plan to feed your baby:
- Take a look at this resource to help you make an informed decision about feeding your baby.
- After 37 weeks, you can start hand expressing colostrum (the first milk that you will produce for your baby) and store any drops in a small, clean container. This can be stored in your freezer until baby comes. Bring your frozen milk in a cooler bag to the hospital when baby arrives. Studies show that giving babies extra colostrum in the early days reduces the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Even small drops of this liquid gold in baby’s mouth reduces the risk for needing any medical interventions.
- For any questions or concerns regarding breastfeeding before baby arrives, drop-in to one of our Brestfeeding Clinics to talk with a Public Health Nurse.
It may not be possible for the plan to go exactly as written, but it can help to let others know your wishes. Remember that the goal is a health mother and a healthy baby.
Pregnancy usually lasts between 37–42 weeks. If labour begins before 37 weeks it is called “preterm labour”. Preterm labour can lead to delivering the baby prematurely which can cause problems for the baby.
If you experience any of the below symptoms, go to the hospital right away and contact your doctor or midwife.
- Bad cramps or stomach pains that don’t go away
- Spotting or bleeding from your vagina
- Trickle or gush of fluid from your vagina
- Lower back pain/pressure, or change in lower backache
- A feeling that the baby is pushing down
- Contractions, or change in the strength or number of them
- An increase in the amount of vaginal discharge
- Fever, chills, dizziness, vomiting or bad headaches
- Blurred vision or spots before your eyes
- Sudden or severe swelling of your feet, hands or face
- A decrease in your baby’s movement
- Being in a motor vehicle accident
(Best Start by Healthy Nexus, 2012)
You can also find more information on preterm labor on the Pregnancy Info site.
Disclaimer: All women who are or could become pregnant need to take a supplement with at least 400 mcg (0.4 mg) of folic acid each day. Some women need more folic acid. Talk to your doctor about the amount of folic acid you should take. Do not take more than 1000 mcg (1 mg) unless advised by your doctor.
- The Sensible Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy
- Healthy Pregnancy – Government of Canada
- Pregnancy and Oral Health
- Be Safe: Have an Alcohol-Free Pregnancy
- Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction
- Rethink Your Drinking – Zero Matters
All information on these web pages has been posted for general information purposes only. These web pages do not provide and the information does not constitute medical advice. The information is not intended to replace or be a substitute for consultation with a qualified professional.
If you are having any pain or bleeding, or your feel there is something wrong call your health care provider immediately. Do not use the phone numbers or e-mail addresses listed on these web pages.