If you are pregnant or even thinking about becoming pregnant, this is one of the most exciting times in your life. It can also be overwhelming, as you begin to contemplate not only the importance of your own health, but the realization that everything you do will also affect the growth of your future child.
Even though it may be hard, try not to sweat the small stuff. It is important to take a moment; to breath deep and relax. Stress can have negative effects on both you and your developing baby. Allow yourself time to relax every day, whether with a prenatal yoga class, going for a walk or enjoying a soothing bath. Also do it for your future self, who will likely long for the days when you could do anything relaxing by yourself!
Regular physical activity is recommended as part of a healthy pregnancy. There are many reasons to begin exercise including:
- building stamina for labour and delivery
- ensuring healthy weight gain
- increasing energy levels
- increasing muscle tone, strength and endurance
- improving mood and self-image
- relaxing and reducing stress
- sleeping better
- speeding up recovery after labour and delivery
Ensure you are not overdoing it, walking regularly or swimming are less stressful on your changing body. If you find it easier to stick to an exercise routine in a group setting, join an exercise class that is specifically for pregnancy.
Personally, I am not a fan of the word diet as it has too many negative connotations. In general, I prefer overall healthy eating choices. Although it’s a mouthful, it is more realistic and healthier for both of you. Start with nutrient dense vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and lean proteins and work on limiting processed foods and caffeine while drinking plenty of water. Unfortunately, many women find the smell of many foods nauseating, making eating well difficult. Ginger may help as according to Health Canada it helps relieve digestive upset including lack of appetite and nausea.
If you are unhappy with your current weight, please do not try to lose weight while you are pregnant. Ideally, it’s best to move to a healthy weight before trying to conceive. This is because a particular type of toxin called persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are known to accumulate in our fat tissues. “There is evidence to suggest that weight loss induces a significant increase in POPs levels in the bloodstream” Therefore, if you quickly lose weight while pregnant, toxins can be released from broken down fat cells and there is a chance that the developing fetus would be exposed to those toxins.
Foods to Avoid
There are some foods that should be avoided during pregnancy, these for the most part are foods that may be contaminated by bacteria including:
- All foods made using raw or lightly cooked eggs (homemade Caesar salad dressing)
- Certain types of cheese including: soft cheeses such as Brie or Camembert, blue cheeses such as Roquefort or Stilton
- Non-dried deli-meats such as bologna, roast beef, ham and turkey breast
- Raw fish, including sushi, raw oysters, clams and mussels
- Raw sprouts, such as alfalfa sprouts
- Raw or undercooked meat, poultry, seafood and hot dogs
- Refrigerated pâté, meat spreads and smoked seafood
- Unpasteurized juices, such as unpasteurized apple cider
In addition to eating an overall healthy diet, prenatal vitamins are vital. All prenatal supplements legally sold in Canada must provide 400 mcg of the vitamin folic acid. Health Canada states that this amount “helps to reduce the risk of neural tube defects when taken daily at least three months prior to becoming pregnant and during early pregnancy.”⁵ This is why healthcare professionals recommend that any woman who is even contemplating a pregnancy in their future, should be taking a prenatal supplement.
Please note that every woman is an individual and even the same woman can have very different pregnancies from one baby to the next. Therefore, it’s best to discuss any health changes with your obstetrician or midwife to ensure it is in the best interest of you as an individual, as well as for the development of your baby.
 Public Health Agency of Canada.(2018). The Sensible Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy. Accessed March 28, 2019 at: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/health-promotion/healthy-pregnancy/healthy-pregnancy-guide.html
 Health Canada (2018). Ginger Monograph. Accessed April 5, 2019 at: http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/atReq.do?atid=ginger.gingembre&lang=eng
 Cheech RM et al. (2016). Adverse effects of weight loss: Are persistent organic pollutants a potential culprit? Diabetes Metab. Sep;42(4):215-23.
 Health Canada (2015). Food safety for pregnant women. Accessed April 2, 2019 at: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-safety-vulnerable-populations/food-safety-pregnant-women.html
 Health Canada. (2018). Multi-vitamin/Mineral Supplement Monograph: Table 5. Specific uses or purposes statements for vitamins. Accessed April 5, 2019 at: http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/atReq.do?atid=multi_vitmin_suppl&lang=eng#a421
 Health Canada (2013). Prenatal Nutrition Guidelines for Health Professionals - Folate Contributes to a Healthy Pregnancy. Accessed April 1, 2019 at: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-nutrition/reports-publications/nutrition-healthy-eating/prenatal-nutrition-guidelines-health-professionals-folate-contributes-healthy-pregnancy-2009.html