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Keeping baby & you healthy

Making healthy choices in pregnancy gives you the best chance of having a healthy baby. Eating well, getting regular physical activity, seeing your health care providers (including your dentist!) and having a strong support system are all important to having the healthiest pregnancy possible.

Get your copy of Our Special Journey: Pregnancy Passport from your health care provider. The Pregnancy Passport includes health information and a convenient a place to record check-ups and tests.

Learn more about the prenatal services VCH offers by calling 1 (855) 550-2229 to talk to a public health nurse.

Immunization

Consider immunizations before, during and after your pregnancy. Before you are pregnant, make sure all of your immunizations are up-to-date. During pregnancy, it's recommended that you get a flu shot during flu season. After pregnancy, catch up on any missing immunizations.

Learn more about immunizations and your baby. Immunization is the only way to protect against certain diseases, and start when baby is 2 months old.

Nutrition

Eating healthy foods during pregnancy will give your baby the best chance to grow and develop well. Some nutrients are especially important, for example:

  • Folate (folic acid): helps protect the baby against birth defects

  • Iron: helps protect you from anemia

  • Calcium and Vitamin D: maintaining healthy bones and teeth

  • Omega-3fats: helps your baby develop a healthy brain

Learn more about dietary sources for essential nutrients here.

Follow recommendations from the Government of Canada during pregnancy for eating a healthy, varied diet.

If you're in your second or third trimesters, you will likely need to eat 2 or 3 extra servings per day. However, everyone is different and you may have unique needs or considerations. Talk to your health care provider about what is best for you.

Pregnancy is not a time to worry about your weight. Weight loss and dieting are not recommended. Instead, focus on eating healthy foods and drinking plenty of water. You can learn more about weight gain guidelines at different stages of pregnancy here:

For more information about healthy eating during pregnancy talk to your health care provider or call Health Link 8-1-1 and ask to speak to a dietician.
You can also use these resources online to learn more about:

Food programs

If you are finding it difficult to provide healthy, nutritious food for yourself or your family due to low income, please consider the following resources.

The following is a list of some food banks available in the Lower Mainland:

Across VCH – Food Banks British Columbia and Single Parent Food Bank

North Shore (North & West Vancouver) – North Vancouver Harvest Project

Powell River – Powell River Food Programs Information

Richmond – Richmond Food Bank Society

Sea to Sky – Squamish Helping Hands

Sunshine Coast – Sunshine Coast Community Services

Vancouver – Vancouver Food Bank

Alcohol, smoking & other drugs

If you need help keeping free of substances like alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, we are here to support you. We will not judge you. Please reach out to one of our VCH community programs below or call your Public Health Nurse for more resources:

Quitting smoking isn't easy. However, it's important to quit smoking as quickly as possible to help prevent:

  • Miscarriage

  • Birth defects

  • Premature birth and the resulting complications

  • Stillbirth

Help is available and you don't need to go through this difficult process alone. Getting professional help will improve your chances of quitting for good, so don't be afraid to reach out.

Every time you drink while pregnant, your baby does too. Since there is no safe amount to drink, it's best to avoid alcohol entirely during your pregnancy. Alcohol during pregnancy can lead to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). FASD means serious developmental, emotional, and physical consequences for your baby.

Even if you drank before you knew you were pregnant, there is still time to stop drinking. The best thing you can do is to not drink at all. The second-best thing you can do is to stop today. If you need help, that's okay and you can:

  • Talk to your health care provider about your drinking

  • Surround yourself with people who will support you in not drinking

Medications, marijuana, and street drugs can all be dangerous during pregnancy. Different drugs have different effects, but few are safe.

  • Talk to your health care provider or pharmacist about any over-the-counter or prescription medications you want to take

  • If you are taking medicinal marijuana, talk to your doctor about the risk factors. These include premature birth, low birth weight and developmental delays. Avoid recreational marijuana use entirely

  • Avoid street drugs entirely. Not only do you risk serious complications but your baby could be born addicted to the drug you take

If you used medications, marijuana or street drugs before knowing you were pregnant, you can still make different choices.

Domestic violence

Pregnancy and new parenthood can be a time when domestic abuse (intimate partner violence) increases. Nobody has the right to threaten you, or verbally, emotionally, sexually or physically abuse you. If this is happening to you, it's also harming your children, even if they aren't being abused. You must get help.

What are the warning signs that you or someone you love is being abused?

You or the person you love is:

  • Apologetic and making excuses for their partners aggression/anger

  • Nervous when their partner is around

  • Often sick or missing work

  • Seems to be "accident prone" with lots of bruises that they try to cover

  • Sad, lonely, withdrawn

  • Using drugs or alcohol to cope

Your (loved one's) partner:

  • Puts you/your loved one down

  • Does all of the talking and dominates the conversation

  • Checks up on you/your loved one all the time, even at work

  • Tries to act like the victim; blames you/your loved one for the abuse

  • Tries to keep you/them from seeing friends and family

  • Acts as if they own you/your loved one

  • Acts like they are superior and have more value than you/your loved one

If you or someone you love is in danger, call 9-1-1.


If you are in an abusive relationship, help is available. Call VictimLink BC at 1-800-563-0808. The line is open 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, and your call will be completely confidential. Someone is waiting to talk to you right now. You can also visit the website (don't forget to clear your browser history after, if needed.)

Learn more about transition housing available to women and their children if they are in danger of abuse.

Kick counting

When you start your 3rd trimester, it's time to start kick counting.

Counting kicks is easy to do. It's important too! It's a great way to bond with your baby.

Most importantly, it could save your baby's life.

There is no magic number of movements a mother should feel. Monitor YOUR baby's movements every day so you will know what is normal for YOUR baby.

If you only remember two things, they are:

  1. Babies do not run out of room to move. They will run out of room for somersaults but should move all the way up to and during labour.

  2. Call right away if you notice a change in your baby's movement pattern. Even if you have an appointment scheduled for the next day, do not wait.

  • Count the kicks every day, preferably at the same time.

  • Pick your time based on when your baby is usually active, such as after a snack or meal.

  • Make sure your baby is awake first. Walking, pushing on your tummy or having a cold drink are good wake-up calls.

  • To get started, sit with your feet up or lie on your side. Count each of your baby's movements as one kick, and count until you reach 10 kicks.

  • Most of the time it will take less than a half-hour, but it could take as long as two hours.

  • Log your recorded times – try the Count the Kicks App.

Healthy Families BC

In addition to the information here, you may also want to have a look at the Healthy Families BC website to learn more about:



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