Pregnancy and Lifestyle
Exercise and physical activity help you feel and look great. Being physically active helps prepare your body for labour, delivery and a faster recovery. Check with your doctor before beginning or continuing an exercise program. Here are a few guidelines for exercise in pregnancy:
Smoking and Tobacco
- Walking is a great place to begin, if you have not been active. Start any new exercise slowly and gradually increase the intensity and time.
- Swimming, bicycling or exercise classes are other good activities for pregnant women.
- Take rests often. Do not push yourself.
- Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise.
- Eat a healthy snack and drink a healthy beverage such as water, 15 to 30 minutes before exercising.
- Avoid exercises that involve laying on your back after the fourth month.
- Do not exercise when it is hot or very humid, to prevent overheating.
Chemicals from tobacco are passed along to your baby and baby gets less oxygen and nutrients when you smoke. Babies born to women who smoke are:
- more likely to be born premature and weigh less.
- at increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
- more likely to get sick and have developmental problems.
Quit smoking and avoid second hand smoke, especially during pregnancy and breast feeding.
During pregnancy no amount of alcohol is safe to drink at any time. Alcohol can cause permanent birth defects and affect the growth and development of your baby. Drink water, milk, fruit or vegetable juice instead of alcohol.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) describes brain damage and a range of birth defects caused by drinking alcohol during pregnancy. FASD is the leading cause of preventable mental disability and birth defects in Canada. A baby with FASD may have one or more of the following problems:
- small head;
- heart, skeleton and/or kidney defects;
- problems eating or sleeping;
- learning difficulties;
- short attention span;
- memory problems; and
- difficulty learning from experiences.
These problems do not go away – FASD is permanent. There is no cure for alcohol-related birth defects and brain damage. The harm lasts a lifetime.
Drugs and Medications
There are many prescription, over-the-counter and street drugs that will seriously affect the health of your baby if taken during pregnancy. Ask your doctor or pharmacist before taking any home remedies, medications or drugs.
If you are struggling with an addiction to cigarettes, alcohol or drugs, ask your doctor to refer you to an addictions program or consult your community health center.