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Tips for a healthy pregnancy

Pregnancy is one of the most precious times in life. When you are expecting, you may have many questions about how to best take care of yourself and your baby during pregnancy. Here are some common questions that expecting women ask and important health tips to help guide you:

What should I eat?

Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide is one of the best ways to nurture your baby’s healthy growth and development.

​Need some help? Use our Eating for a Healthy Pregnancy Menu Plan to make healthy food choices for you and your baby.

Should I take a multivitamin supplement?

Yes. Pregnant women have needs for folic acid and iron that are difficult to meet through healthy eating alone.

  • Take a multivitamin containing 0.4 mg of folic acid to help prevent serious birth defects. Learn more about why all women who could become pregnant should be taking folic acid.
  • Most women need to choose a prenatal multivitamin that also contains iron, to meet increased needs for iron during pregnancy. The amount of iron you may need will depend on your iron stores going into pregnancy.
  • Ask your doctor to help you find a multivitamin that is right for you during pregnancy.

How much weight should I gain?

Healthy weight gain during pregnancy is important for you and your baby. The amount of weight you should gain depends on your weight before pregnancy.

  • If you are a healthy weight when you get pregnant, you should aim to gain between 11 and 15.5 g (25 to 35 lbs) during your pregnancy. If you are underweight or overweight, you may need to gain more or less. If you are pregnant with more than one baby you will need to gain more weight.
  • Your doctor can help you determine how much weight gain is best for you. Aim for steady weight gain. If you lose weight during your pregnancy, speak to your doctor right away.
  • Stay active during your pregnancy for a healthy weight gain and to increase your energy levels, help you relax, sleep better and increase your muscle tone, strength and stamina. 

Are there foods I should limit or avoid?

Yes, it is best to limit or avoid certain foods while you are pregnant.

  • Follow Health Canada’s advice on fish that are safe to eat.
  • Limit your caffeine intake to 300 mg per day when you are pregnant or breast feeding. A small 200 mL (6 oz.) coffee can have as much as 180 mg of caffeine. Other sources of caffeine to watch include tea, soda pop, energy drinks and chocolate. Learn more about caffeine and pregnancy.
  • Avoid these foods that may be contaminated with bacteria:
    • Raw fish, especially shellfish such as oysters and clams
    • Undercooked meat, poultry, seafood and hot dogs
    • All foods made with raw or lightly cooked eggs
    • Unpasteurized milk products and foods made from them
    • Unpasteurized juices, such as unpasteurized apple cider
    • Raw sprouts, especially alfalfa sprouts

How can I protect my baby from other harmful substances?

It’s important to keep your unborn baby safe from substances that can be harmful.

  • Don’t drink any alcohol. There is no safe amount or time to drink alcohol during pregnancy.
  • If you or someone in your household smokes, you both should quit. A smoke free environment is important for you and your baby.
  • Check with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medications, prescription drugs, herbal products or chemicals.
  • For more information about the safety of substances and support during pregnancy, visit Motherisk.

What can I do about nausea and vomiting?

You’re not alone if you suffer from nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. More than half of all pregnant women suffer from ‘morning sickness’ at some point in their pregnancy. Learn how to deal with nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.

Where else can I find more information?

Visit the Public Health Agency of Canada to:

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Dietitians of Canada acknowledges the financial support of EatRight Ontario by the Ontario government. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Province.