Health and Safety

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Your body is experiencing many changes. It’s important to think about your safety and how things around you can affect you and your baby’s health.

General safety tips for pregnant women

  • Prevent overheating. Limit your time in hot tubs, hot baths and saunas to less then 10 minutes, and get out if you feel dizzy, faint, have a rapid pulse, irregular heart beat, stomach ache, or tingling in your hands or feet.
  • Practice pet safety and create a plan for cleaning your cat litter box. Cat poop can harbor a parasite, called toxoplasmosis that can cause a miscarriage or birth defects.
  • Get your water checked if you get water from a private well or non-regulated source as there might be bacteria or chemicals that could harm your baby.
  • Some X-rays, dental x-rays, CT scans or other tests may not be safe when pregnant. Make sure to let your provider know if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • In your workplace, are there risks of exposure to fumes or chemicals, infections, overheating, lifting heavy objects, or standing for long periods of time? Talk with your health care provider about options to keep you safe while at work.
  • Too much stress can be unhealthy for you or your baby. Take steps to decrease your stress.
  • Quit drinking alcohol. It is not safe to drink any amount of alcohol while you might be pregnant.
  • Quit smoking and encourage those around you to quit as well. Understand the risks of smoking during pregnancy and the benefits of quitting. Learn more about the effects of second hand smoke on children.
  • Illegal drugs and street drugs are dangerous to you and your unborn baby. Help is available to decrease or quit your drug use.

Travelling

When travelling in a car, always wear a seat belt.

Points to Remember:

  • Keep the belt over your waist and chest - not under your arm or behind your back
  • Keep the seat in the upright position. Do not recline your seat while driving, as the belt will then be too loose.
  • Find an alternative to driving. Do not drive if you don’t have to.
  • To create more space between you and the airbag, move the front seat as far as you back as you can.

If travelling by air, check with your airline on their policy for pregnant women. Find tips to improve your comfort when flying.

Zika

The Public Health Agency of Canada has recommended that pregnant women and those planning a pregnancy should avoid travel to countries with ongoing Zika virus outbreaks. Learn more about the Zika virus.

Exercising while pregnant

Exercising while pregnant can help minimize some of the not so pleasant side effects of pregnancy like leg cramps, swollen feet, constipation, fatigue, backaches, and shortness of breath.

Find activities you enjoy and modify as the pregnancy progresses. Be aware of your body. Your ligaments will be more relaxed in pregnancy, which can put you at higher risk of injury. 

When you are pregnant be sure to avoid or limit any sports or activities, for example hot (Bikram) yoga, that may cause your body temperature to rise too high. Find tips on exercising safely. And always speak to your health care provider.

Sex while pregnant

It is perfectly safe to have sex during pregnancy (unless advised otherwise by your health care provider).

However, some women may experience changes in their level of sexual desire as symptoms of pregnancy or increased sensitivity of the vulva and breasts may occur. Communication is a key to discovering how to continue to have an intimate relationship throughout pregnancy.

Get the facts on having sex while pregnant.

Relationship safety

Violence, abuse, sexual abuse, and trauma all impact the emotional and physical health of pregnant women. Intimate partner violence - a pattern of physical, sexual, or emotional violence - can increase while you are pregnant or after you have the baby. It is not your fault.

If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, abuse or sexual abuse in your relationship, get help. In an emergency, call 9-1-1.

Our Embrace Clinic provides follow-up medical care to survivors of recent violence. It is free, confidential medical care with your safety and privacy in mind.

VictimLink BC, a confidential helpline available in 110 languages, 7 days a week. It provides information, support and referral services in your neighborhood.

  • Toll free: 1-800-563-0808
  • For deaf and hearing impaired assistance (TTY): 604-875-0885
  • Email: VictimLinkBC@bc211.ca

Transition houses, a safe shelter for women, with or without their babies, may also be available in your area. Visit the BC Society of Transition Houses to learn more.

When to seek medical attention

Review this list of when to contact your health care provider or HealthLink at 8-1-1.

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