Pregnancy, prenatal care and your health
Timiskaming Health Unit has a number of resources available to provide you with helpful & up to date information about pregnancy and how to care for a newborn.
Services we offer for families expecting a baby:
These classes help prepare expecting parents in feeling more confident about labor and delivery. The topics covered aim to help you feel prepared for the upcoming months. Classes are for women and their partner/ support person and are available online. Contact an HBHC nurse to get more information.
Our free home visiting program supports pregnant people and families with children up to six years of age. Staff help families by providing prenatal education, healthy relationships and bonding, dealing with parenting challenges and accessing resources and much more.
Trained child restraint system technicians ensure your child’s car seat is installed properly before you’re ready to bring baby home or as your child grows. Parents, grandparents and caregivers are all welcome to book an appointment!
To sign up or learn more, contact us to speak to a Healthy Babies Healthy Children (HBHC) nurse. All services are free and by appointment.
Do I need to take a prenatal supplement?
Yes. Choose a vitamin/mineral supplement with 0.4 mg of folic acid and 16-20mg of iron. Your nutrient needs increase when you are pregnant. It can be difficult to get enough of these nutrients from food. Taking a prenatal vitamin/mineral supplement will also ensure you are getting enough of all the nutrients you need in a day. Even though you are taking a supplement, eating nutritious foods is still important. Some women need even more folic acid and iron. Ask your health care provider about a vitamin/mineral supplement that is right for you.
Healthy Eating and Pregnancy
Eating well before and during pregnancy is the first step in having a healthy baby.
Your baby relies on the food you eat to help it grow and develop. During pregnancy, it is important to eat twice as healthy, not twice as much. Making healthy food choices during pregnancy will give your baby the best start, help you feel good about yourself and help you and your family develop life long healthy eating habits.
- Get a copy of Canada’s Food Guide.
- Eat twice as healthy, not twice as much. You will only need an extra two to three food guide servings each day. These can come from any food group.
- Choose vegetables and fruit that are different colours. Aim for one dark green and one orange vegetable each day.
- Go for whole grains. Choose whole grain bread, brown rice and whole grain pasta more often.
- Drink two cups (500mL) of milk or fortified soy beverage every day to help meet your calcium and vitamin D needs. Choose lower fat milk (skim, 1% or 2%), cheese and yogurt.
- Choose lean meats and meat alternatives more often such as lentils, beans and chickpeas.
- Eat two food guide servings (150 grams) of low mercury, fatty fish per week. Examples are salmon, tilapia, sole, herring, trout and canned light tuna.
- Aim for three meals a day with nutritious snacks in between. Aim for at least three food groups at meals and two food groups at snacks. Here are some examples.
- Plan your meals and cook at home more often. Check out these money saving tips and recipes (Unlock Food).
- Drink water regularly to satisfy your thirst. Limit sugar sweetened beverages such as pop and juices. They are low in nutrients and high in sugar.
Are there any foods I should avoid or limit?
Yes. There are certain foods that you should avoid or limit while you are pregnant to keep you and your baby safe.
- Liver: Contains very high amounts of vitamin A that can be harmful if eaten regularly. Limit the amount of liver you eat to 1 Food Guide serving per month, if at all.
- Caffeine: Too much caffeine isn’t good for you or your baby. Aim for no more than 300mg of caffeine per day. This is about one or two 250mL (8oz) cups of coffee. Other sources of caffeine include tea, cola, chocolate and energy drinks.
- Herbs and herbal tea: The safety of all herbs and herbal teas is not known. Some herbs can harm your baby. Health Canada states that the following herbal teas are generally considered safe in moderation (2 to 3 cups per day): citrus peel, ginger, orange peel, lemon balm, linden flower, rose hip. It is safest to avoid all other herbal teas that are not listed above. You can also talk to your health care provider about the safe use of herbal teas.
- Artificial sweeteners: Some artificial sweeteners are not safe during pregnancy. Foods that contain sweeteners are often low in nutrients and should not replace other more nutritious foods. For example, milk or water is a better choice than a sugar-free pop. A list of safe and unsafe artificial sweeteners can be found in the resource Healthy Eating for a Healthy Baby (Best Start Resource Centre).
- Fish high in mercury: Fish is healthy to eat during pregnancy, but some fish are high in mercury and should be limited. Some fish caught in local lakes may not be safe to eat either. Check out the guide to eating Ontario sport fish (Ministry of the Environment, Conservation & Parks) for more information on safe local fish.
- Foods that increase your risk of food poisoning: Avoid eating:
- Raw fish including sushi and shellfish such as oysters and clams
- Raw sprouts, especially alfalfa sprouts
- Raw or undercooked meat, poultry, seafood and hot dogs
- All foods made with raw or lightly cooked eggs
- Patés, some deli meats and smoked fish products
- Unpasteurized milk products and goods made from them
- Soft and semi-soft cheese such as brie, camembert, feta and blue-veined cheese (pasteurized and unpasteurized)
- Unpasteurized juices such as unpasteurized apple cider
For more information on safe food choices and food handling tips check out the resource safe food handling for pregnant women (Healthy Canadians).
How much weight should I gain?
Every woman is different. The recommended amount of weight you should gain depends on how much you weighed before you became pregnant. Most of your weight gain will happen during your second and third trimester. Your health care provider will probably weigh you at your appointments. Talk to him/her about how much weight gain is right for you.
Remember: Weight gain is a natural and normal part of pregnancy. Embrace it and know you are doing your part to grow a healthy baby. Have a healthy pregnancy by avoiding smoking and alcohol, by being active, eating well, and by feeling good about yourself and your body!
Do I need to get my vaccines updated?
Immunization protects against diseases that can cause harm. It is important to talk to your health care provider or a public health nurse to find out if you require any vaccinations during your pregnancy.
All pregnant people, regardless of vaccination history, should receive the Tdap vaccine in each pregnancy. The Tdap vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. Pregnant people should also get a flu shot during flu season. The COVID-19 vaccine is also recommended for pregnant people who don’t have contraindications. For more information about pregnancy and the COVID-19 vaccine click here or discuss with your primary care provider or a public health nurse.
For more information:
Is it safe for me to engage in physical activity during my pregnancy?
Unless otherwise indicated by your health care provider, staying physically active during pregnancy is encouraged. If you’ve never really been active, it’s never too late to start; just consult with your health care provider and start slowly. Learn more about physical activity during pregnancy here.
Why should I breastfeed?
Breastfeeding benefits both mom and baby. Breast milk contains everything your baby needs and is recommended as the best choice for newborn babies. Learn more about Breastfeeding and Feeding Your Baby.