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Month 6

Alcohol Use

Alcohol can hurt your baby. Spend time with friends who support your decision not to drink.

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Drinking alcohol when you are pregnant can hurt your baby.

Alcohol is a teratogen. A teratogen can cause a disability. A teratogen harms your baby before she is born.

Your baby is joined to you by your umbilical cord and placenta. The placenta attaches to the uterus. The umbilical cord comes out of the placenta.

The umbilical cord and placenta help move food, water, and oxygen from you to your baby. Anything that goes into your blood goes to your baby. This includes alcohol. Your baby’s body takes longer to get rid of alcohol than your body does. This makes alcohol affect the baby longer.

Drinking alcohol when you are pregnant can cause Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). FASD affects a baby for his whole life. You may not notice FASD until your child is in school.

Alcohol can affect the brain, spinal cord, and organs (e.g., heart) of your baby. It can cause many disabilities.

It can affect:
  • his size
  • how he learns
  • what he remembers
  • how he pays attention
  • how he fixes problems
  • how he gets along with other people
  • how he feels about himself
  • how he sees
  • how he hears

Alcohol can hurt your baby at any time while you are pregnant. It is healthier for your baby if you don’t drink while you are pregnant. If you stop drinking alcohol or cut down, your baby has a better chance to be born healthy.

It is never too late to stop drinking.

Do you want to stop drinking? Talk to your healthcare providers. There are people who can help and support you. Call HealthLine at 811 and speak to an Addictions/Mental Health Counsellor. This is free and open 24 hours a day. You can also visit HealthLine Online.

It is not easy to stop drinking alcohol. Drinking alcohol is common. It can be hard to tell people that you don’t want to drink. Look for friends who can help you. You can be the designated driver. Your partner may stop drinking to support you.

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Complications

See your healthcare providers if you have a headache that will not go away. This can be a sign of a serious complication. You can also call Health Line (811) for support and information.

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If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, contact your healthcare providers or Health Line (811) for support and information.

Bleeding

It is normal to have spotting during pregnancy. Heavy bleeding might be a symptom of:
  • abruptio placenta
  • cervical incompetence (Delisle,M., Brown., & Gagnon, R.,2013)
  • miscarriage
  • placenta previa
  • premature labour

Abruptio placenta usually happens after the 20th week of pregnancy. Abruptio placenta happens when the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus too early. It can cause bleeding. Your baby may have problems getting enough oxygen and nutrients he needs to grow. Abruptio placenta can cause problems during labour. It can cause your baby to be born dead.

Cervical incompetence happens when your cervix starts opening before your 9th month of pregnancy. This can cause premature birth or miscarriage.

Miscarriage means that your baby has died inside of you. You will still need to deliver your baby or you can get very sick.

Placenta previa is about the placement of the placenta in the uterus. Usually the placenta attaches to the top part of the uterus. When it attaches to the bottom of the uterus, it is called placenta previa. This can cause the placenta to cover the birth canal. It can also cause bleeding and complications during labour. Placenta previa can cause the mother to die.

Premature labour is labour that starts before your 37th week of pregnancy.

Chronic Disease Symptoms

Diabetes

Your blood sugar levels may change during pregnancy. Monitor your sugar levels carefully. See your healthcare providers, including your dietician, if you need help staying healthy.

Insulin is not harmful to your baby. It is safe whether you are using a pump, needles, or pills.

Diabetes increases your risk of having a big baby. This can make it harder to deliver your baby. You may need to have an induced labour or a caesarean section. Diabetes can also increase the risk of your baby dying before she is born.

Epilepsy

Pregnancy may increase the number of seizures you have. It might also make the seizures more severe. Severe seizures may be fatal for you and your baby.

Seizures during labour and delivery may be harmful to you and your baby. Work with your healthcare providers to create a delivery plan.

Keep taking your epilepsy medications and follow the advice of your healthcare provider. Your medications may be changed.

Asthma

If you have asthma, you may see an increase in your symptoms during your pregnancy. Work with your healthcare providers to make sure your asthma is under control. It is safe to use asthma medication during pregnancy. Avoid smoke; it may make your asthma worse.

If your asthma cannot be controlled, it may increase the risk that your baby will be born underweight.

A common symptom of pregnancy is acid reflux. This can cause heartburn. Acid reflux can make asthma worse.

Many chronic diseases, like diabetes, epilepsy, and asthma, can get worse during pregnancy. If your symptoms are not controlled by your medication, call your healthcare providers.

Fever

Fevers are signs of infections. Infections during pregnancy can affect the way your baby grows and develops.

Headache

Headaches during pregnancy can be a symptom of pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia is a complication that usually occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy. Symptoms are headaches, high blood pressure, swelling in your feet or hands, vision problems, and protein in your urine (pee). If you smoke and get pre-eclampsia, you can have more complications than if you don’t smoke. If left untreated, pre-eclampsia can be very dangerous for you and your baby.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure can be a symptom of pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia is a complication that usually occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy. Symptoms are headaches, high blood pressure, swelling in your feet or hands, vision problems, and protein in your urine (pee). If you smoke and get pre-eclampsia, you can have more complications than if you don’t smoke. If left untreated, pre-eclampsia can be very dangerous for you and your baby.

Premature Labour

If labour starts before your 37th week of pregnancy, you may show these symptoms:
  • Contractions
  • Vaginal pressure
  • Frequent urination
  • Diarrhea
  • Tightness in lower stomach

Protein in Urine (pee)

Protein in urine can be a symptom of pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia is a complication that usually occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy. Symptoms are headaches, high blood pressure, swelling in your feet or hands, vision problems, and protein in your urine (pee). If you smoke and get pre-eclampsia, you can have more complications than if you don’t smoke. If left untreated, pre-eclampsia can be very dangerous for you and your baby.

Swelling in Feet or Hands

Some swelling of the feet and hands is normal during pregnancy. If it does not decrease or becomes uncomfortable, this can be a concern. Swelling can be a symptom of pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia is a complication that usually occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy. Symptoms are headaches, high blood pressure, swelling in your feet or hands, vision problems, and protein in your urine (pee). If you smoke and get pre-eclampsia, you can have more complications than if you don’t smoke. If left untreated, pre-eclampsia can be very dangerous for you and your baby.

Vision Problems

Loss of vision or dots in vision can be symptoms of pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia is a complication that usually occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy. Symptoms are headaches, high blood pressure, swelling in your feet or hands, vision problems, and protein in your urine (pee). If you smoke and get pre-eclampsia, you can have more complications than if you don’t smoke.

Vaginal Discharge and Itchiness

Some vaginal discharge is normal during pregnancy. Heavy discharge and itching may be a sign of an infection. Ask your healthcare providers to be tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Many of these infections can be treated during pregnancy. If left untreated, some sexually transmitted infections can be harmful to your baby.

Vaginal discharge might also be a sign of cervical incompetence. This happens when your cervix starts opening before your 9th month of pregnancy.

Heavy discharge can be a sign of premature labour.

If your discharge is clear and a lot of liquid is coming out, your amniotic sac’s membranes may have broken early. This is also known as your water breaking. This should not happen until you are in labour. If it happens early, it is called Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes (PPROM). It can cause infections that can hurt both you and your baby.

Vomiting and Nausea

It is normal to feel sick and vomit during pregnancy. If you haven’t been able to eat or drink in the last 12 hours, contact your healthcare providers. There is medication that can help control severe vomiting during pregnancy.

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Growth of Your Baby

Your baby’s brain is growing quickly.

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Your baby can be affected by hot temperatures. Your baby cannot grow properly if he is too hot. If you get overheated, so will your baby. Avoid hot baths, saunas, and hot tubs during your pregnancy.

Your baby is growing longer and heavier. Fat is forming under his skin. This will help him stay warm after he is born.

The skin on your baby’s hands and feet thicken.

Your baby’s handprints and footprints are forming.

You might be able to feel your baby hiccup.

You baby’s skin is covered with wax (vernix caseosa). This wax moisturizes and protects your baby’s skin. The wax helps your baby move through your birth canal during labour. It also helps to keep your baby warm.

You baby will respond to sound, rhythm, and melody.

When you touch your stomach, you may be able to tell if you are feeling the baby’s head, back, arm, or leg. Gently feel your stomach. If one side of what you are feeling is smooth, it is probably your baby’s back. If one side is lumpy, it is probably your baby’s arms and legs.

Your baby’s brain has been growing throughout your whole pregnancy.

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Healthcare Provider

Complications can happen during pregnancy. Learn the signs. Get help when you need it.

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Find healthcare providers to give you and your baby the care that you need. Healthcare providers can be doctors, midwives, or nurse practitioners.

Midwives are available in some Saskatchewan health regions. Midwives are experts in normal pregnancy, birth, and newborn care. They can provide support, monitoring, and assessment throughout your pregnancy, labour, and delivery, including performing invasive procedures and prescribing medications. For low risk pregnancies, midwives are trained to help women deliver their babies at the hospital as well as at home. For more information about midwives, click here.

Doulas can support you as well. They can provide physical and emotional support, as well as information throughout your pregnancy. However, doulas are not healthcare providers. If you have a doula, you also need to see a healthcare provider.

During your first visit, your healthcare provider will:
  • ask about your health
  • ask about your lifestyle
  • talk about having a healthy baby
  • offer to do medical tests
  • find out your due date

A healthcare provider can also answer your questions. Before you visit a healthcare provider, write down your questions. Ask these questions during your visit. Take your time and ask as many questions as you need to.

  • Do you provide care for pregnant women?
  • Will I be able to be your patient through my whole pregnancy?
  • Will you be available for the birth of my baby?
  • Where can I give birth to my baby?
  • Can I visit the place I will be giving birth before my due date?
  • What support can you give to me during my pregnancy?
  • How can I make sure I am getting the right foods for me and my baby?
  • Can I still exercise while pregnant?
  • Should I change any of my medications?
  • Will any illnesses I have now affect my pregnancy or baby?
  • Why should I take prenatal vitamins? Where can I get them?
  • How much weight should I gain during pregnancy?
  • How can I find support to stop smoking?
  • How can I find support to stop drinking?
  • How can I find support to stop using street drugs?

Medications

Some medications from the drug store are safe to take. Some are not. Call your healthcare providers, pharmacist, or MOTHERISK at 1-877-439-2744 for information. These experts will help you make healthy choices.

Acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) is safe during pregnancy for short-term use. It is not recommended for long periods of time. Ibuprofen (e.g., Advil) is not safe in the first or third trimester. For more information, talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist.

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You may be taking prescribed medication. You may be taking vitamins or medicine you buy at a drug store, like pain relievers or antacids. You may also be taking herbal products.

Some of these products are safe to take when you are pregnant. Some are not. Ask your healthcare providers or pharmacist which ones are safe. You may need to take something different during your pregnancy.

If you get a cold during pregnancy, check before taking any medication. Some cold medications are not safe to use during pregnancy. You can ask you healthcare provider or pharmacist for more information.

You can contact MOTHERISK at 1-877-439-2744 for more information or medSask These experts will help you make healthy choices.

Herbal Products

Some herbal products are taken in strong (concentrated) amounts. They are not used the same way you use herbs for cooking. Some of these may cause birth defects and early labour. More research is needed to know how dangerous certain products are. Discuss the use of herbal products with your healthcare providers before beginning or continuing use.

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Medical Tests

You will be tested for gestational diabetes. You can get this type of diabetes when you are pregnant. For this test, you will drink a sweet liquid and then your blood will be taken and tested.

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A healthcare provider will need to do some tests when you are pregnant. These tests check the health of you and your baby. They are safe for both of you.

Tests this month include:
  • physical exam
  • glucose screening
  • blood tests
  • a urine test
  • electronic fetal heart monitoring
  • ultrasound

Each time you see a healthcare provider, your blood pressure and your weight will be checked. It is important to be weighed because gaining too much or too little weight can hurt your baby. Your healthcare professional may ask you to take your blood pressure outside of your regular prenatal visits. This can be done at home if you have a blood pressure machine. This can also be done at a pharmacy or drug store if they have a blood pressure machine for public use.

Special tests can also be done to see if your child has certain conditions. Some of these tests do not tell you if your child has a condition. Some will only tell you if your child has a chance of having a condition. These tests are optional. You do not have to have them done.

Some medical tests, like some X-rays, are not safe during pregnancy. Always tell healthcare providers that you are pregnant.

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Healthy Families BC: Check Ups and Tests during Pregnancy

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Electronic Fetal Heart Monitoring

Fetal heart monitoring is a simple test that is used to listen to your baby’s heart beats. Your baby’s heart rate is a good way to tell whether your baby is doing well or may have some problems. During the test, a probe is passed over your belly until you and the healthcare provider can hear your baby’s heart rate. The probe is then held in place to listen. The healthcare provider will assess the baby’s heart rate.

Prenatal Glucose Testing

Your doctor will check the amount of glucose you have in your blood. If you have a high amount of glucose, you may have gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that can happen during pregnancy. It occurs because your body is not able to make enough insulin to control the amount of sugar in your blood. This makes your blood sugar level high.

If you have gestational diabetes, the following are risks for your baby.

  • High birth weight
  • Increased change of having a Caesarean Section (C-Section)
  • Low levels of blood sugar
  • High risk of developing diabetes in his lifetime.”

If you have gestational diabetes, your doctor will want to continue to monitor your glucose levels after pregnancy. For most women, these levels return to normal. However, some women will require ongoing medical care.

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Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Testing

HIV is a virus that damages the immune system and can lead to AIDS. People can live a healthy, long life being HIV positive if they get treatment and care.

HIV can be passed from mother to baby during pregnancy, delivery, or after birth.

Mothers living with HIV can pass the virus to their babies in three ways.
  1. The placenta joins the mother and baby. Food and oxygen reach baby through the placenta. HIV can pass through the placenta from the mother to baby.
  2. The baby can come into contact with his mother’s blood while being born.
  3. HIV is found in breast milk. The virus can be passed to the baby during breastfeeding.

HIV testing is part of your prenatal blood tests. You can refuse the test. However, HIV does not discriminate. If you have had sex, you are at risk. If your healthcare provider does not offer the test, you can ask for it.

If a mother with HIV gets good medical care and treatment, there is less than a 2% chance of passing HIV onto a baby. A mother with HIV can have a healthy baby.

If you are HIV positive, you can stay healthy when you are pregnant.
  • Find a healthcare provider who knows about HIV and pregnancy.
  • Follow the advice of your healthcare provider.
  • Stay on all medications given to you.

One of the ways that HIV can be passed from you to your baby is through breast milk. If you are HIV positive, it is recommended that you do not breastfeed. It is not recommended that another woman breastfeed your baby.

Free formula is available in Saskatchewan for women living with HIV. You can call the numbers listed below to ask questions about the Saskatchewan Infant Formula program.

  • Prince Albert: 306-765-6535
  • Regina: 306-766-3915
  • Saskatoon: 306-665-1477

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Physical Exam

A pelvic exam may be done. During a pelvic exam, the healthcare provider will examine your vagina, uterus, and ovaries. This can help confirm you are pregnant.

Your healthcare provider may do a pap test. A swab will be used to scrape cells from your cervix. A pap test checks the health of your cervix and vagina.

Your healthcare provider will check your blood pressure at each visit during your pregnancy.

Urine Test

During a urine test, a sample of urine (pee) is taken. Follow the instructions of the medical professional. A urine test is done to check for a urinary tract infection, diabetes, and high blood pressure. These conditions can all occur during pregnancy.

Ultrasound

The purpose of an ultrasound is to see if your baby is growing and developing normally. The technician will put gel on your stomach and run a probe over it. The probe sends sound waves that will bounce off your baby and form a picture. An ultrasound cannot hurt you or your baby.

The first ultrasound is usually done in the fourth month. This ultrasound can determine your due date and tell you if you are carrying more than one baby.

In the first trimester, your doctor may want to get an ultrasound to see if there are any problems with your pregnancy. Some common reasons for an early ultrasound are if you have pain in your stomach or pelvic area, or if you are bleeding. This early in pregnancy, your baby may be too small to see clearly using ultrasound. You will be asked to lie on your back with your knees bent. A probe covered with gel will be placed in your vagina. The probe sends sound waves through your vaginal wall. These bounce off the baby and form a picture.

Mental Health and Support

It is natural to be scared about the changes in your life. Talk to other pregnant women or new moms.

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Your feelings and moods may change quickly during pregnancy. This is normal.

Some people have depression during pregnancy.

Talk to someone you trust about the way you feel. A friend, family member, or partner can support you.

When to talk to your healthcare provider
  • You feel down, sad, or worried for longer than seven days.
  • The things that used to make you happy don’t make you happy anymore.

Click here for information about maternal mental health.

Maternal Mental Health

Having a baby is often a time of joy and excitement for a new mother, but this is not the case for all women. 1 in 5 women experience mental health concerns during or after pregnancy. Do not to be ashamed if you experience mental health concerns. There is help available.

Learn about maternal mental health. Talk to your family and friends about the symptoms to watch for. They might be the first to recognize your symptoms. It is important to get help as soon as possible. Contact your regional mental health office.

For more information about mental health services in Saskatchewan, please contact Government of Saskatchewan, Community Care Branch, (306) 787-7239 or info@health.gov.sk.ca
Having several of the following symptoms for more than two weeks could mean you have a mental health concern
  • Have less interest in normal activities.
  • Cry for no reason.
  • Feel grumpy, angry, or sensitive.
  • Feel more tired than usual.
  • Have more energy than usual.
  • Have problems sleeping or sleep too much.
  • Have problems concentrating.
  • Have difficulty coping.
  • Feel anxious or panicked.
  • Think about hurting yourself, your baby, or others.
  • See things or hear voices.
Maternal mental health concerns can be serious. They affect the health of the mother, baby, and others around them. Maternal mental health concerns will not go away by themselves. Get help as soon as possible.

Past Mental Health Concerns

If you have had mental health concerns in the past, tell your healthcare provider. You may be at risk of developing further mental health concerns during and after pregnancy. Your healthcare provider can help you. He may refer you to someone who can meet with you and support you.

Don’t be afraid to talk to your healthcare provider. Mental health concerns are normal. Your healthcare provider will help you develop a plan to spot early warning signs. The earlier you are treated, the faster you will recover.

If you are on medication for mental health concerns, do not stop taking it. Talk to your healthcare provider. She may need to switch you to a medication that is safer in pregnancy or change your dose.

  • Talk with you about your feelings.
  • Celebrate your pregnancy with you.
  • Massage sore and stiff areas of your body (back, legs, feet).
  • Exercise with you.
  • Help you avoid drugs and alcohol.
  • Help you eat healthy foods.
  • Attend doctor and other medical appointments with you.

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Nutrition

Eating small meals often during the day is important. This will decrease changes in your blood sugar.

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Eating healthy foods will help your baby grow and keeps you and your baby healthy.

Healthy foods include:
  • vegetables and fruit (broccoli, bananas, apples, carrots, berries)
  • grain products (whole wheat bread, cereal, pasta, muffins)
  • milk products and alternatives (milk, cheese, yogurt, soy milk)
  • meat and alternatives (beans, lentils, eggs, fish, chicken)

Follow Canada’s Food Guide recommendations about the amount you should eat from each food group while pregnant.

Are you craving certain foods? It is fine to feed your food cravings, but try to eat small amounts if the food you are craving is unhealthy. If you crave something salty, instead of potato chips, try popcorn. Top it with a bit of butter and salt. Try fruit to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Are you low on money? If you are having problems buying enough food to eat well, there may be help. Talk to your healthcare provider or social worker. Some communities have programs to help pregnant women.

Now that you are in your second trimester, you will need to add about 340 calories to your diet every day. Two of Canada Food Guide serving equal approximately 340 calories. Some examples of a 340 calorie snack are:

  • 1 cup plain yoghurt with ¾ cup berries and ½ cup granola
  • 1 ½ cup bran cereal with 1 cup of skim milk and an apple

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Folic Acid (Folate)

Folic acid and folate are important for your baby’s brain and spinal cord to grow right. Getting enough folic acid and/or folate decreases the chance that your baby will be born with a disability. Folate is found in food such as:

  • dark green, leafy vegetables (spinach, broccoli, asparagus, brussel sprouts)
  • citrus fruit (oranges)
  • whole grains (lentils, chickpeas, fortified breads and grains)

When pregnant, it is hard to get enough folate from eating foods alone. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate found in supplements such as prenatal vitamins. In addition to eating the foods above, it is important to take a multivitamin containing folic acid every day.

Try to eat foods with folic acid:
  • before you are pregnant (ideally 3 months before getting pregnant)
  • while you are pregnant
  • while you are breastfeeding your baby
All pregnant women do not need the same amount of folic acid. Talk with your healthcare provider about how much folic acid you should be taking.

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Food Safety

Food poisoning can be harmful to you and your baby. To protect you and your baby, some foods should be avoided. Other foods need to be cooked until steaming.

Foods to cook or heat until steaming
  • Eggs: Cook until the yolk is firm. Cake batter, cookie dough, or other items with raw eggs should not be eaten until cooked.
  • Fish: Fish is good to eat. Eat fish every week to help your baby grow. Make sure the fish is cooked. Do not eat raw fish. Some fish have high levels of chemicals that can hurt you.
    • Safe fish
      • white fish
      • salmon
      • rainbow trout
      • canned light tuna (slipjack, yellowfin)
      • sardines
      • tilapia
      • sole
      • haddock
      • shrimp
  • Hot Dogs: Heat hot dogs until the middle is steaming.

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Foods to Avoid

To protect you and your baby, some foods should be avoided.
  1. Caffeine: Caffeine passes from you to your baby. Your baby’s body is not made to get rid of caffeine. Limit your caffeine intake to 300 mg per day (1 cup of coffee) or less. Caffeine is found in:
    • coffee
    • tea
    • chocolate
    • pop/cola/soda
  2. Herbal Teas: Ask your healthcare providers which herbal teas to avoid.
  3. Fish: Some fish have high levels of chemicals, such as mercury, that can hurt you. Fish to avoid or eat less often:
    • tuna (fresh or frozen)
    • canned white (albacore) tuna
    • shark
    • swordfish
  4. Wild meat killed with lead pellet
  5. Kidney and liver from older moose

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Morning Sickness

You may often feel sick to your stomach and you may vomit. This is called morning sickness. However, it can happen at any time of the day. Avoid long periods of time without food. Eating small amounts frequently can help you feel better. Drinking water can also help relieve your morning sickness.

For some pregnant women, drinking water makes them feel sick to their stomach and vomit. It is important to stay hydrated. Try taking small sips of water at a time instead of trying to drink a full glass. Some women find that eating before they have a drink of water helps. Other ideas are drinking ginger ale, or sucking on ice chips. If you are choosing to drink herbal teas, talk to your healthcare professional first. Some herbal teas are not safe during pregnancy.

Talk to your healthcare providers if morning sickness is severe.

Prenatal Vitamins

Take a multivitamin each day that is meant for pregnant women. This is called a prenatal vitamin. Prenatal vitamins should contain folic acid and iron.

Taking a prenatal vitamin each day will help you and your baby get all the nutrients you both need. Talk to your healthcare providers if you need help getting prenatal vitamins.

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Water

Drink 10-12 glasses of water a day. Water keeps you from becoming dehydrated. Dehydration can cause symptoms like headaches. Water carries nutrients to your body and to your growing baby. Water can help you stay cool. It can also prevent constipation and reduce swelling. You will know you are getting enough water when your urine (pee) is pale yellow.

For some pregnant women, drinking water makes them feel sick to their stomach and vomit. It is important to stay hydrated. Try taking small sips of water at a time instead of trying to drink a full glass. Some women find that eating before they have a drink of water helps. Other ideas are drinking ginger ale, or sucking on ice chips. If you are choosing to drink herbal teas, talk to your healthcare professional first. Some herbal teas are not safe during pregnancy.

Ongoing Healthcare

Make sure all your vaccinations are up to date. These will help protect you and your baby.

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During pregnancy, don’t forget to see your healthcare provider for ongoing concerns, like chronic illnesses. Chronic illnesses include asthma, epilepsy, and diabetes.

Influenza Vaccination (flu shot)

Influenza is the flu. It spreads from one person to another through sneezing or coughing. There are several different types (strains) of flu.

The flu causes symptoms that include feeling tired, fever, sore throat, cough, headaches, chills, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

The influenza vaccination (flu shot) is free in Saskatchewan. Click here to learn about clinics in your region. Influenza vaccines are different every year. Even if you had a vaccination last year, you still need one this year.

During pregnancy, your immune system is weaker than usual. Your immune system is what fights illnesses in your body. Pregnant women are at risk of complications due to flu. These complications may cause them to have their babies too early.

Babies under the age of six months cannot get the influenza vaccination. If you get the influenza vaccine when you are pregnant, both you and your baby are protected.

It is safe to get the influenza vaccine any time during pregnancy. Those who will be in contact with your baby should also be immunized.

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Chronic illnesses

If you are living with a chronic illness (e.g., epilepsy, diabetes), talk to your healthcare provider. She will help you manage your illness and medications during your pregnancy. During pregnancy, she may need to see you often. Your medications may need to be changed.

Asthma

If you have asthma, you may see an increase in your symptoms during your pregnancy. Work with your healthcare providers to make sure your asthma is under control. It is safe to use asthma medication during pregnancy. Avoid smoke; it may make your asthma worse.

If your asthma cannot be controlled, it may increase the risk that your baby will be born underweight.

A common symptom of pregnancy is acid reflux. This can cause heartburn. Acid reflux can make asthma worse.

Diabetes

Your blood sugar levels may change during pregnancy. Monitor your sugar levels carefully. See your healthcare providers, including your dietician, if you need help staying healthy.

Insulin is not harmful to your baby. It is safe whether you are using a pump, needles, or pills.

Diabetes increases your risk of having a big baby. This can make it harder to deliver your baby. You may need to have an induced labour or a caesarean section. Diabetes can also increase the risk of your baby dying before she is born.

Heart Disease

If you have heart disease, ask your healthcare providers for a referral to a cardiologist.

Epilepsy

Pregnancy may increase the number of seizures you have. It might also make the seizures more severe. Severe seizures may be fatal for you and your baby.

Seizures during labour and delivery may be harmful to you and your baby. Work with your healthcare providers to create a delivery plan.

Keep taking your epilepsy medications and follow the advice of your healthcare provider. Your medications may be changed.

High Blood Pressure

If you already have high blood pressure, it is important to keep it under control during pregnancy. Talk to your healthcare provider about monitoring your blood pressure.

HIV

HIV can be passed from mother to child. However, it is possible to have a healthy baby.

Mental health concerns

If you have a history of mental health concerns, tell your healthcare provider. You may be at risk of developing mental health concerns during and after pregnancy. Your healthcare provider may refer you to someone who works in this area and can help.

Do not be afraid to talk to your healthcare provider. Mental health concerns are common. Your healthcare provider will help you develop a plan so you can spot the early warning signs. This plan should be shared with those close to you. The earlier you seek care, the better your recovery.

If you are on medication for mental health concerns, do not stop taking it. Talk to your healthcare provider. They may need to switch your medication. They might also need to change your dose.

Obesity

If you are obese, you have an increased chance of having problems with your pregnancy. One of the risks includes having your baby too early. Talk to your healthcare provider about your risks.

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Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Pregnancy

HIV is a virus that damages the immune system and can lead to AIDS. People can live a healthy, long life being HIV positive if they get treatment and care.

HIV can be passed from mother to baby during pregnancy, delivery, or after birth.

Mothers living with HIV can pass the virus to their babies in three ways.
  1. The placenta joins the mother and baby. Food and oxygen reach baby through the placenta. HIV can pass through the placenta from the mother to baby.
  2. The baby can come into contact with his mother’s blood while being born.
  3. HIV is found in breast milk. The virus can be passed to the baby during breastfeeding.

HIV testing is part of your prenatal blood tests. You can refuse the test. However, HIV does not discriminate. If you have had sex, you are at risk. If your healthcare provider does not offer the test, you can ask for it.

If a mother with HIV gets good medical care and treatment, there is less than a 2% chance of passing HIV onto a baby. A mother with HIV can have a healthy baby.

If you are HIV positive, you can stay healthy when you are pregnant.
  • Find a healthcare provider who knows about HIV and pregnancy.
  • Follow the advice of your healthcare provider.
  • Stay on all medications given to you.

One of the ways that HIV can be passed from you to your baby is through breast milk. If you are HIV positive, it is recommended that you do not breastfeed. It is not recommended that another woman breastfeed your baby.

Free formula is available in Saskatchewan for women living with HIV. You can call the numbers listed below to ask questions about the Saskatchewan Infant Formula program.
  • Prince Albert: 306-765-6535
  • Regina: 306-766-3915
  • Saskatoon: 306-665-1477

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Vaccinations

Some diseases can be harmful to you and your baby when you are pregnant. Vaccines can protect you and your baby from these diseases. Early in your pregnancy, make sure your vaccinations are up-to-date. Your immunity to diseases during pregnancy protects your baby until he is 6 months of age. Breastmilk also provides some immunity for your baby.

Many vaccines are safe to get during pregnancy. Your healthcare providers will know which are safe. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider that you are pregnant before getting a vaccination. All vaccines are safe to get while breastfeeding.

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Oral Health

Your baby’s teeth are growing. Eat a healthy, balanced diet for both of you.

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During pregnancy oral health is very important. Oral health means the health of your gums, teeth, and jaw. Good oral health during pregnancy is good for the overall health of both you and your baby.

Schedule a dentist appointment during your first trimester. Dental work is safe during pregnancy. Your dentist will clean your teeth and give you a checkup. X-rays should be avoided, if possible. If you need them, your healthcare provider will put a lead vest over your stomach to protect your baby.

Your hormones change during pregnancy making you at risk for oral health diseases.

Morning sickness can also hurt your oral health. Vomit has acid in it. Acid can wear down the outside layer (enamel) of your teeth. This can cause cavities.

Oral disease can be prevented and treated. You can take these simple actions to protect the health of you and your baby.
  • Take prenatal vitamins.
  • Use toothpaste with fluoride.
  • Brush your teeth two times a day.
  • Brush your tongue.
  • Floss daily.
  • Eat healthy foods.
  • Limit sugary foods and drinks.
  • Rinse your mouth with water or mouth wash if you throw up.

Studies show that pregnant women with severe gum disease may be more likely to deliver a baby that is too early or comes too soon.

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Physical Activity

Do not lie down on your stomach when exercising. Change your exercises so that you are sitting or on your side. Get the go ahead from your healthcare provider before continuing or starting to exercise.

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Being physically active during pregnancy is good for you and your baby.

Physical activity can help in many ways.
  • Increase feelings of happiness
  • Decrease stress
  • Increase energy
  • Improve sleep
  • Decrease constipation
  • Decrease swelling in your feet, legs, and hands
  • Help you keep a healthier weight
  • Speed up recovery after labour

Do light activities, like walking and swimming. Find someone to exercise with to make it more fun. Start with 5 minutes a day. Slowly increase your time to 30 minutes a day. Drink lots of water before, during, and after your activity.

Slow down if you are out of breath. You should be able to talk normally while you exercise.

You may find that some exercises you used to find comfortable are not anymore. Listen to your body. Adjust your exercise until you feel comfortable.

The Mayo Clinic provides some examples of exercises that are safe during pregnancy. Click here for more information.

Yoga is an excellent exercise during pregnancy. Yoga is a good way to develop strength. It is also a good way to learn about breathing. Learning to control your breathing will help you during labour. Ask your yoga instructor about positions that are safe for you.

Controlled breathing is important when you are exercising. Count your breaths in and your breaths out. They should be the same. Breathe slowly.

You may be short of breath while active. This is because your uterus is pressing against your lungs. Listen to your body. Don’t overdo it.

When you are pregnant, some types of exercise are not safe.

Avoid doing exercises flat on your stomach or back. Change them so you can do them on your side or sitting or standing.

Avoid jumping, bouncing, and jolting. This includes doing aerobics and riding horses.

If you are using weights, keep them light or moderate. Do not lift heavy weights.

If you have any of these symptoms while exercising, see your healthcare provider.
  • Contractions that do not stop
  • Bleeding
  • Back, stomach, or pelvis pain that keeps getting worse
  • Sudden swelling in your face, ankles, and hands
  • Dizziness
  • Breathlessness
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Difficulty walking
  • Changes in your body’s movements
  • Swelling, pain, or redness in your lower legs

Have you heard of Kegels? Kegels are pelvic floor exercises. Kegels strengthen the muscles in your vagina. Your pelvic floor muscles support your uterus, bladder, and bowels. Doing Kegels can help you to prevent leaking urine (pee). They can also help you during labour and delivery. To do a Kegel, squeeze the muscles that you use to stop the flow of your pee. Hold these muscles for 5-10 seconds, and then relax. Do this 10 times and repeat 3 times a day. Work on breathing in while you let your pelvic floor relax. Breath out while you go a Kegel.

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Sex During Pregnancy

Sex may hurt. Talk to your healthcare providers about this.

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During your entire pregnancy, it is usually safe to have sex. In some special cases, your healthcare provider may tell you it is not safe to have sex when you are pregnant.

Your baby is protected during sex by your own body. The amniotic sac, the muscles of your uterus, and a mucous plug in your cervix protect your baby. As well, proper hygiene and the use of condoms will decrease the risk of infections.

As your pregnancy progresses, you may find that certain positions are uncomfortable. Talk to your partner and together experiment until you are both comfortable. If sex is painful, talk to your healthcare providers.

You may have a range of feelings about sex. Changes to your feelings about sex during pregnancy are normal. You may want to have sex more. You may want to have sex less. Talk to your partner about the way you feel and your needs.

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Street Drug Use

Using prescription drugs that are not yours can hurt your baby. If you have a problem using prescription drugs, your healthcare providers can help you.

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Drugs can hurt you or your baby. Do you want to stop using drugs or cut down on the amount that you use? Talk to your healthcare providers. There are people who can help and support you. Call HealthLine at 811 and speak to an Addictions/Mental Health Counsellor. This service is free and open 24 hours a day. You can also visit HealthLine Online.

Intravenous drug use (shooting up, using needles) puts you at high risk for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C (HCV). Without proper care, these infections can be passed to your baby.

HIV

HIV can be passed to your baby during pregnancy, childbirth, and breatfeeding. However, women with HIV can have healthy pregancies and healthy babies. Treatment and care can reduce the chance of a baby being infected with HIV to less than 2%. If you have HIV and are pregnant, talk to your healthcare provider early in your pregnancy or before you become pregnant about reducing the risk for your baby.

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a serious liver disease caused by a virus. Hepatitis C is spread through blood to blood contact. If you have hepatitis C, your baby may become infected during child birth. Some drugs that are given for hepatitis C are not recommended during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor before your become pregnant or early in your pregnancy, to discuss ways to keep yourself and your baby healthy.

Click here for more information on HIV and Hepatitis C.

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  • Motherisk

    Alcohol, Nicotine, Substance Use

  • medSask

    Information about Prescriptions, Over-the-Counter Medications and Herbal Remedies

  • Web Med

    Drug Use and Pregnancy

Click on a button below for more information about specific street drugs.

Cocaine can cause:

  • you to go into early labour
  • your baby to have a birth defect
  • your baby to be born too small (low birth weight)
  • your baby to die before he is 28 days old

Using cocaine when you are pregnant can increase your baby’s risk of dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

SIDS

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of death in healthy infants up to one year of age. SIDS occurs when a healthy baby dies suddenly during sleep.

Cocaine use can also cause your placenta to break away from the wall of your uterus. This is called abruptio placenta. This is dangerous for you and your baby.

Abruptio Placenta

Usually happens after the 20th week of pregnancy. Abruptio placenta happens when the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus too early. It can cause bleeding. Your baby may have problems getting enough oxygen and nutrients he needs to grow. Abruptio placenta can cause problems during labour. It can cause your baby to be born dead.

Heroin (brown sugar, dope, China White, or smack)

Using heroin during pregnancy can cause your baby to die.

Heroin use can also cause the placenta to break away from the wall of the uterus. This is called abruptio placenta. This is dangerous for you and your baby.

Heroin withdrawal during pregnancy can be dangerous. Using heroin during pregnancy can cause your baby to have withdrawal after birth. To prevent the baby’s withdrawal, your healthcare provider may put you on methadone. Methadone is safe to use during pregnancy. Methadone prevents withdrawal symptoms. It will also decrease your cravings for heroin.

Get help to stop using heroin.

Inhalants (glue, paint thinner, gas, and aerosols such as hairspray)

Using inhalants during pregnancy can cause your baby to die. Your baby may be born with a birth defect. Using inhalants can cause your baby to have mental health or behaviour problems.

Marijuana (dope, ganja, grass, pot, weed)

Using marijuana during pregnancy can cause your baby to be born early. Marijuana use can cause your baby to have a learning problem.

Methamphetamine (meth, speed)

Using Methamphetamine can cause your baby to die before he is born. This is called miscarriage.

Miscarriage

A miscarriage means that the baby has died inside of you. You will still need to deliver the baby or you can get very sick. See your healthcare providers right away.

Methamphetamine can cause the placenta to break away from the wall of the uterus. This is called abruptio placenta.

Using Methamphetamine is dangerous for you and your baby.

Tobacco Use

Smoking can hurt your baby. There are over 4,000 dangerous chemicals in a cigarette.

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Smoking tobacco when you are pregnant can hurt you and your baby. When someone else smokes around you, you breathe in harmful chemicals. There are more than 4,000 harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke. These include nicotine, tar, ammonia, carbon monoxide, arsenic, cyanide, and lead.

The chemicals from tobacco smoke stay in the air for a period of time. They also stay on surfaces around your house as well as on your hair and clothes. These chemicals are passed through the uterus to the baby. Talk to your healthcare providers for help to quit smoking.

As much as possible, keep your environment smoke-free. Talk to your friends and family about keeping your house and car smoke-free. Avoid situations where people are smoking.

Risks from tobacco smoke during pregnancy

  • Losing your baby
  • Having your baby too early
  • Having a baby who is too small
  • Having a baby born with health, learning, emotional, and behavioural problems
  • Miscarriage
    • Miscarriages happen when a baby dies in the mother’s uterus.
  • Ectopic Pregnancy
    • An ectopic pregnancy happens when a fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus. The fetus cannot survive. This condition can cause the mother to die.
  • Placenta Previa
    • Usually the placenta attaches to the top part of the uterus. When it attaches to the bottom of the uterus, it is called placenta previa. Placenta previa can cause bleeding and complications during labour. It can cause the mother to die.
  • Abruptio Placenta
    • This condition happens after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Abruptio placenta happens when the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus too early. It can cause bleeding. Your baby may have problems getting enough oxygen and the nutrients he needs to grow. Abruptio placenta can cause problems during labour. Abruptio placenta can cause your baby to be born dead.
  • Pre-term premature rupture of membranes
    • When the amniotic sac breaks before 37 weeks, it is called Pre-term premature rupture of membranes. It can cause infection for mother and baby. This can also cause your baby to be born early. It can also lead to death of both mother and baby.
  • Preeclampsia
    • Preeclampsia is a condition that may occur during pregnancy after the 20th week. Symptoms include headaches, high blood pressure, swelling in your hands or feet, vision problems, protein in your urine (pee), upper stomach pain, shortness of breath, and sudden weight gain. If left untreated, preecplampsia can be very dangerous for you and your baby.
  • Delayed Wound Control
    • Smoking causes wounds to heal slower and increases risk of infections after a caesarean.

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Your Body

You may get Braxton Hicks contractions. Your uterine muscles will tighten but this does not mean you are in labour. These contractions are not dangerous. They are your body’s way to prepare for labour.

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Baby

You will feel your baby moving. Connect with your baby. Talk to your baby.

There will be times during the day when your baby moves more. There will also be times when your baby moves less. If you think your baby might be moving less, count your baby’s movements for 2 hours. Lie down when doing the counting. If you feel less than 6 movements in 2 hours, you should contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

Discomfort and Pain

You may have pain in your back, hips, and legs. This can make it hard to sleep. Try sleeping on your side with a pillow between your legs. Massages and stretching can help. Be sure to find a massage therapist certified in prenatal massage.

Your feet, ankles, and hands may swell. Rest and put your feet up. Avoid wearing tight clothing, rings, watches, and socks with elastic tops. Wear comfortable shoes.

If you have leg cramps, eat foods like yogurt for calcium and bananas for potassium. Potassium intake is important for electrolyte balance in your blood. Your body increases the amount of blood it has by 50% when you are pregnant. Therefore, more potassium is needed to keep this balance.

Morning Sickness and Other Stomach Concerns

You may feel sick to your stomach and you may vomit. This is called morning sickness but it can happen at any time of the day.

You may be constipated and have gas. Drink lots of water. Eat foods that are high in fiber.

You may have heartburn. The changes in your hormones make the top of your stomach relax. This means that stomach acid can come back up. If this happens, avoid spicy and fatty foods. Eat small meals often instead of big meals. Sleep with your back propped up. It can also help to avoid eating and drinking right before bed if possible. Drink milk to soothe your stomach. Your healthcare provider can recommend medications that may help with the symptoms.

Avoid going without food for long periods of time. Find out which foods make you nauseous and which foods you can tolerate. Eating often can help you to feel better.

Remember to drink lots of water.

If you have not been able to eat or drink in the last 12 hours, contact your healthcare provider. There is medication that can help control nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.

Physical Changes

Your breasts will become larger and heavier.

Hemorrhoids are common in pregnancy. Hemorrhoids are swollen veins around the anus. If you have an itching, pain, or bleeding when having a bowel movement (pooping), you may have hemorrhoids. If they are causing you pain, try a warm bath and washing the area carefully after each bowel movement. An ice pick may also help with pain. Constipation can make hemorrhoids worse. Try eating foods high in fiber such as fruit, bran flakes, and oatmeal. Drinking and staying active can also help.

Your heart rate will increase. This happens so your baby can get the blood and oxygen he needs.

You may get increased discharge from your vagina. It will be clear or yellow. If it seems unusual, see your healthcare providers.

You may have Braxton Hicks contractions. Your stomach muscles tighten to get ready for labour. These don’t happen often and are mostly pain-free. If you are unsure if you are having Braxton Hicks contractions or going into labour, talk to your healthcare providers.

Varicose veins are common in pregnancy. This is when the veins in your legs become swollen. They may cause your legs to ache. You are more likely to get them if you are overweight or you have a family history of them. To keep them from getting worse, rest often with your feet up. Your healthcare provider may give you other ways to reduce the pain.

Changes to your body and posture during pregnancy and posture during pregnancy can cause sciatic nerve pain. This is when there is pain that spreads from your lower back down the back of your leg. This can be mild or very painful. See your healthcare provider to talk about ways to reduce the pain. The symptoms often clear up after birth.

Pets

Your immune system lowers when you are pregnant. This means you can get sick easier than before so you need to take extra care.

If you have a cat, have someone else change the litter box for you while you are pregnant. If you cannot find anyone to help you, wear gloves and wash your hands carefully after you clean it.

There is a parasite that can be found in cat feces (poop) that can make you sick. The illness it causes is called toxoplasmosis. Even though you may not feel sick, the illness can cause miscarriage and birth defects. Miscarriage is when a baby dies before birth.

Seatbelt Safety

In your car, always wear both your lap belt and shoulder strap. Buckle the belt under your stomach and over your hips. Don’t place the lap belt across your stomach.

Weight Gain

When you are pregnant, you will gain weight. This helps your baby grow. Underweight women need to gain more weight. Overweight women need to gain less weight.

Find out what is best for you. Talk to your healthcare providers about how much weight you should gain.

If you gain too much weight during pregnancy, you are at an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes. Your baby could be at an increased risk for:

  • Being born to large
  • Being born to early
  • Being overweight later in life

If you gain too little weight during pregnancy, your baby could be at risk of:

  • Being born to small
  • Being born to early
  • Problems breastfeeding

Pregnancy weight is spread throughout your body. For example, the amniotic fluid and placenta weigh about 2 pounds.

Best Start Resource Centre Resources

Eating a variety of healthy foods can help you gain the right amount of weight. Healthy foods include:
  • vegetables and fruit (broccoli, bananas, apples, carrots, berries)
  • grain products (whole wheat bread, cereal, pasta, muffins)
  • milk products and alternatives (milk, cheese, yogurt, soy milk)
  • meat and alternatives (beans, lentils, eggs, fish, chicken)

Working During Pregnancy

Be sure to check with Employment Insurance Benefits to find out the rules about getting parental benefits.
In some jobs, you may be exposed to chemicals, fumes, radiation, and solvents that are unhealthy during pregnancy. Check with Motherisk. They will know if something might cause health problems. Ask your healthcare provider for a letter stating that for pregnancy-related reasons, you need to stay away from unhealthy exposures in the workplace. Work with your boss to make a safe work environment during your pregnancy.

Some jobs can be hard on your body. Do you do shift work? Do you work more than 40 hours a week? Do you climb ladders or stairs a lot? Do you stand for more than 4 hours a day? Talk to your healthcare providers. They can share ideas that keep you safe at work during your pregnancy.

At this point in your pregnancy, it is recommended that you do not lift more than 50 lbs.

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