Planning a Healthy Pregnancy

Babies begin to develop even before women know they are pregnant. By the time a woman has a "missed period" she is already four weeks pregnant.

Fact: 50 per cent of pregnancies are unplanned

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 do not have a doctor visit the Ontario Doctor Directory to 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. It is important to stop drinking alcohol before becoming pregnant. Damage to the fetus from alcohol can occur very early in pregnancy, before most women even know they are pregnant.

Learn more about alcohol consumption before and during pregnancy:

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 is best to stop smoking prior to becoming pregnant and ensure your home and car is smoke-free.

Diet and Physical Activity

Healthy eating is an important part of your health before you get pregnant. Use Canada's Food Guide to determine how many servings from each food group you and your partner need to help you get on track eating a healthy, balanced diet.

Physical activity for you and your partner is extremely important when trying to conceive a baby. Health Canada recommends 30-60 minutes of physical activity every day. It is very important you achieve a healthy weight before you become pregnant. Talk to your healthcare provider about what would be a healthy weight for you.

It is also important to be aware of how much weight gain is recommended during pregnancy to support your baby's growth and development. Health Canada has created a Pregnancy Weight Gain Calculator that can help you determine your recommended weight gain that will promote a healthy pregnancy.

Health Before Pregnancy - More Resources


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