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Health Before


Last Reviewed: April 2017
The latch

Things to Reduce and Avoid

Key Info

  • Avoid smoking, alcohol, drugs and chemicals before getting pregnant.
  • Check the safety of medications you're taking.
  • Give yourself time to quit smoking before trying to conceive.

There are things you should do, and there are things you should reduce or avoid to better your chances of getting pregnant and delivering a healthy baby.

Drugs & Alcohol


Some prescription and over-the-counter medications can make it harder for you to get pregnant or may cause problems during your pregnancy. Talk with your doctor or call Motherisk (416-813-6780) about the safety of over-the-counter drugs.

Learn if the medications you're taking can be continued during pregnancy. Talk with your doctor about changing the dosage, not using the drug, or changing to a different medication before planning a pregnancy.

Recreational Drugs & Alcohol

Before pregnancy is the time to give your baby the best start to life by not drinking alcohol. Alcohol can affect the amount and potency of a man's sperm, and no amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy.

FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) is the term used to describe the range of defects and disabilities that are caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol. Babies born with FASD do not outgrow these disabilities. Alcohol use during pregnancy has many adverse effects on the growth and development of the fetus.

The damage to the child's brain is irreversible and there are lifelong physical and psychological implications. Health Canada estimates that in Canada at least one child each day is born with FASD.

If a woman is using street (illegal) drugs during pregnancy, it could have harmful effects on the growing baby. These drugs tend to pass through the placenta. Some drugs can cause a baby to be born with an addiction. Babies born to mothers who use illegal drugs are usually smaller, delivered early (pre-term birth), tend to be more irritable and/or may have brain damage.

It is important for her to tell her physician if she has been using street drugs (e.g.heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, marijuana or inhalants). At delivery, a baby may go through withdrawal symptoms, so it is vital for the health-care provider to be aware of this possibility for mom and baby to receive the best possible medical care.
Adapted with permission of Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit

For more information:
Region of Peel — Public Health
905-799-7700 Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Caledon residents call free of charge at 905-584-2216

To speak with a Public Health Nurse

Be Safe Have an Alcohol-Free Pregnancy
Region of Peel-Public Health

For any inquiries regarding medication use during pregnancy:


A man's sperm is affected by smoking. A smoker's sperm has a harder time fertilizing a woman's egg to create a pregnancy.

Second-hand smoke is harmful to you and your baby. Smoking during pregnancy can cause a baby to be born too soon or too small.

A smoke-free home means your baby will have fewer breathing problems and ear infections. You'll also reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (crib or cot death).

Give Yourself Time to Quit

The first few weeks are the hardest, so give yourself some time to quit before trying to get pregnant.

Talk with your doctor or contact Region of Peel Public Health at 905-799-7700 to learn about resources to help you reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke or to quit altogether.

For more information:
Region of Peel — Public Health
905-799-7700 Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Caledon residents call free of charge at 905-584-2216

To speak with a Public Health Nurse

Second-hand Smoke: the Health Effects?
Region of Peel — Public Health

Thinking about Quitting?

Smoke-Free Homes
Region of Peel — Public Health

Natural and Synthetic Chemicals

Chemicals such as lead, mercury and those found in garden pesticides can create problems for men and women trying to get pregnant. Certain chemicals can cause miscarriages or stillbirths.

Learn all you can about the biological, physical and chemical hazards you use at home and at work. Read the labels on all containers and check the material safety data sheets at your workplace.

If you have questions about the risk or safety of medications, herbs or chemicals, visit Motherisk or call 416-813-6780.

If you have questions about hazardous chemicals in your workplace, visit the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System website or call 1-800-461-4383

Environmental Concerns When Pregnant
Region of Peel — Public Health

Preparing for Pregnancy: The Basics | For Moms-To-Be | For Dads-To-Be | Contact Us

Revised: Thursday June 22 2017


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