General guidelines for a healthy pregnancy

  • Visit your doctor or midwife before or as soon as you know you are pregnant. Continue regular checkups throughout pregnancy.
  • Eat a balanced and healthy diet. Do not try to lose weight during pregnancy.
  • Exercise regularly. Women with uncomplicated pregnancies are encouraged to get regular aerobic and strength-conditioning exercise.1 Don't exercise if you are not feeling well or if the weather is very hot. Swimming, walking, and arm exercises are the safest activities.
  • Avoid dangerous activities such as motorcycle riding, diving (including skydiving and scuba diving), water skiing, and downhill skiing.
  • Avoid caffeine, or limit your intake to about 1 cup of coffee or tea each day. Coffee, tea, chocolate, and some soft drinks contain caffeine. For more information on caffeine and women's health, go to the Web site of the International Food Information Council. Available at
  • Do not drink alcohol. Alcohol has been found to cause problems in the developing fetus.
  • Do not smoke or use recreational drugs during pregnancy. These substances have been found to increase the risk of fetal death, low-birth-weight babies, and other problems.
  • Obtain prompt treatment if you have symptoms of infection. Burning or other pain during urination can indicate a urinary tract infection. A foul-smelling discharge from your vagina can indicate a vaginal infection.
  • Avoid touching cat feces or handling litter boxes. Cook meats well before eating. Cat feces and undercooked meat can transmit toxoplasmosis, an infection that can cause a miscarriage or fetal brain damage.
  • If you continue working while pregnant, try to avoid standing for long periods of time or frequent lifting of heavy loads.

For more information about how to stay healthy during pregnancy, see the topic Pregnancy.


  1. Davies GA, et al. (2003). Exercise in pregnancy and the postpartum period. Joint SOGC/CSEP Clinical Practice Guideline No. 129. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada, 25(6): 516–522.

Last Updated: November 14, 2008

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