Preconception Health

You plan for school, work, holidays and even your retirement. What about your baby? Parenting begins long before your baby is conceived. Babies begin to develop even before women know they are pregnant. This means that the time to prepare for your baby’s health is before you get pregnant. Both men and women can take action to improve the health of their future children.

Things you should consider before you are pregnant:

  • Eating Healthy: A daily balance of fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy products and protein foods, for both men and women, help builds healthy sperm and eggs.
  • Physical Activity: Be physically active for at least 150 minutes per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more.
  • Folic Acid: Every woman who could become pregnant should take a daily multivitamin supplement which contains 0.4mg of folic acid.
  • Smoking: Smoking poses a significant risk to women’s health, the health of a fetus and to the health of children and others who live with people who smoke. Smoking is linked to lower fertility for women and can affect the health of a man’s sperm.
  • Caffeine, Drugs and Alcohol: Too much caffeine can lead to a baby being born underweight. When planning a pregnancy, limit your caffeine intake to 1 1/2 cups of coffee a day. And remember to cut back on all other sources of caffeine. Some prescription and over the counter drugs may make it harder to get pregnant and may cause problems during pregnancy. Talk with you health-care provider about the drugs you are taking. It is best to stop using alcohol and drugs that are not prescribed by your health care provider while planning a pregnancy. No known amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy, and the use of drugs such as marijuana and cocaine may lead to birth defects and learning disabilities.

The healthier you are, the more likely you’ll have a healthy baby. That’s why it’s important to prepare for pregnancy before you conceive. If there is a baby sometime in your future, talk to your health-care provider about what you can do to prepare.

Services related to this information:

Public Health Nursing offices, Eastern Health

811 HealthLine (Newfoundland & Labrador) – Call 811 or 1-888-709-2929 / TTY 1-888-709-3555

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Last updated: 2021-03-12