Healthy eating, exercise and vaccines to consider before you conceive.

Healthy eating for pregnancy

Start prenatal vitamins with folic acid

If you're planning a pregnancy, you should take a daily multi-vitamin mineral supplement containing 400 mcg (0.4 mg) of folic acid for at least three months before you get pregnant. Folic acid helps reduce the risk of having a baby with birth defects of the spine and brain, commonly known as neural tube defects.

If you have a chronic condition such as diabetes, obesity or epilepsy, talk with a registered dietitian at HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 as you may require even higher doses.

Focus on healthy eating

  • This is a great time to follow Canada’s Food Guide and learn more about eating well when planning a pregnancy. If you’re not eating enough food from each of the food groups, talk to your health care provider or a registered dietitian to find out if you need to take any additional supplements.
  • Make sure you are getting enough calcium and vitamin D. They are very important for your bones and the health of your unborn baby. Learn more about the foods to eat to increase calcium and vitamin D in your diet. Speak to your health care provider about a vitamin D supplement.
  • Avoid taking too much vitamin A. Too much can harm the baby. Cod liver oil, different kinds of livers, multi-mineral/vitamin supplements and vitamin A supplements all contain vitamin A. To make sure you are not taking more than the maximum dosage each day, check with your health care provider.

Learn more at Dietitians of Canada: Thinking about having a baby?

Eat fish but limit the mercury

Fish, with its high omega-3 fats, is a healthy food to eat anytime, especially preparing for or during pregnancy. Aim for at least 150 grams (5 ounces) of cooked fish each week, as recommended in Canada’s Food Guide. Learn more about omega-3 fats.

Remember to choose fish that is low in mercury and limit eating fish high in mercury to 150 grams (5 ounces) per month. Too much mercury in your diet can harm a growing baby.

Choose iron-rich foods

Some women may require more iron than others, especially those who do not eat a lot of meat. Talk to your health care provider to see how much iron is right for you. Learn more about iron and your health.

Contact a dietitian

If you have any questions about healthy eating, food, or nutrition, call 8-1-1 to speak to a registered dietitian.

Avoid alcohol and drugs

When you drink, alcohol passes from your blood through the placenta and to your baby which can seriously affect your baby's development. Because of this risk, avoid drinking alcohol if you're pregnant or trying to get pregnant.

Using illicit drugs during pregnancy (including marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine and heroin) can have a serious effect on your unborn baby.

Need help quitting? Call Alcohol and Drug Referral Service 1-800-663-1441.

Avoid smoking

Now is the time to make a change in your health that will not only increase your chances of getting pregnant but also provide a healthy start for your baby.

Encourage those around you to quit as well. Second hand smoke increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other infant health concerns.

Need help quitting? Visit QuitNow.ca

Pills and medicine

Talk to your doctor about which prescription drugs, over the counter drugs, or herbal or naturopathic remedies you may be taking. Not all medications are safe when trying to get pregnant.

Healthy exercise

Make a plan to get active. Being physically active before and during pregnancy can help to reduce or minimize many common pregnancy complaints. It also has many benefits to your physical and mental well being.

If you were not physically active before, start slowly and progress gradually. Find ideas for physical activities when planning a pregnancy.

Healthy weights

Your weight before you become pregnant can affect your chances of getting pregnant, your pregnancy and your baby’s health. Think about healthy weights and start making healthy lifestyles changes even before trying to get pregnant.

To achieve a healthy weight, don't focus on the number on the scale but rather on eating healthy and getting active.

Learn more about healthy weights for getting pregnant.

Immunizations

If you are planning to become pregnant, there are some vaccines that are particularly important to consider. Learn more about immunizations and pregnancy.