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Pregnancy & After Birth

Your Reproductive Life Plan

If you don’t have a plan to prevent pregnancy, you have a plan to get pregnant.

Planning is an important part of life. We spend a lot of time planning for our future based on our priorities, values, and goals. Planning whether or not to have children and when the right time to have them is known as a Reproductive Life Plan.

You have the control and ability to make decisions about:

  • whether or not to have children;
  • when to have children;
  • how you plan to have children.

What’s Your Plan?

Whether you are planning to be a parent, a baby will change your life. Preconception health is your health before and between pregnancies. Taking positive actions to improve your health before and between pregnancies will help increase your chances of having a healthy baby.

With approximately 50% of all Canadian pregnancies being unplanned, making a plan before you become pregnant can help you have a healthy pregnancy and baby, now or in the future.

The following describes things you may want to consider based on your current Reproductive Life Plan.

You’ve made a decision not to have a baby at this time OR you’re thinking of having a baby maybe someday.

Here is a list of things you need to consider:

Healthy Lifestyle

  • make healthy food choices;
  • be active;
  • maintain a healthy weight;
  • keep immunizations up-to-date;
  • be smoke-free;
  • limit alcohol and drug use;
  • and limit your exposure to harmful chemicals.

Birth Control Method & Practice Safer Sex

  • Until you are ready to get pregnant, use a birth control method that works for you and reduce your chances of becoming infected with sexually transmitted infections (STIs). STIs, if untreated, may make you sick, and may interfere with your future plans of having a baby.
  • You can reduce your risks of getting STIs by practicing safer sex.
  • Find a birth control method that is right for you and your partner. Talk with your health care provider or a counsellor at a Sexual Health Clinic to find a birth control method that is right for you. Be honest and ask lots of questions. All birth control methods work best only if used properly.

Check-ups 

  • Get regular check-ups with your health care provider, and discuss your preconception health and your reproductive life plan. This includes screening for and managing any medical conditions, including testing for STIs and HIV.
  • Ensure your immunizations are up to date. This includes immunizations for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), hepatitis B, varicella, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap), and human papillomavirus (HPV). Having any of these illnesses while you are pregnant can lead to birth defects.

Folic Acid

  • If you’re a woman, it is important to get enough folic acid before you get pregnant and in the first few weeks of pregnancy. One way is to take a daily multivitamin with 0.4 mg of folic acid everyday.

Mental Health

  • Talk to family, friends, and your health care provider for emotional support. Everyone feels worried, anxious, sad, or stressed sometimes, but if these feelings don’t go away and they interfere with your daily life, it’s important to talk to your health care provider. Stress may make it harder to follow good health habits. It can also make it more difficult to become pregnant.
  • If either you or your partner has a history of depression, talking to a health care provider before pregnancy can decrease the risk of depression during pregnancy and after the birth of the baby.

You’ve made a decision to have a baby

Here is a list of things you need to consider:

Healthy Weight

  • Eat healthy and be active. Choosing healthy eating options and regular physical activity can help you maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI). Being overweight or underweight can affect your ability to become pregnant and puts you at higher risk for health problems.
  • If you are overweight, you may be at risk for diabetes or high blood pressure.
  • Being underweight may put you at risk of preterm birth or your baby may be born with a low birth weight. It may also impact you and your baby during and after pregnancy. It is best to talk with your health care provider before pregnancy about ways to reach and maintain a healthy weight.

Substance Use

  • Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. It is best to stop drinking, smoking and using drugs before getting pregnant as these substances affect the quality of the sperm and may make it difficult to get pregnant. If you’re having trouble quitting smoking, get help and keep trying.

Environmental Substances

  • Limit your exposure to harmful environmental substances. Exposure to environmental hazards can make it more difficult to get pregnant and may cause problems during your pregnancy.

Folic Acid

  • If you’re a woman, continue to take a daily multivitamin with folic acid. This will help prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord.

Check-ups

  • Inform your doctor about your preconception health plans and have a complete medical check-up. This may include:
    • completing a reproductive and family health history screening to identify any genetic disorders (e.g., hereditary conditions) or possible risks in a future pregnancy;
    • updating your immunizations;
    • discussing any medications you are currently taking. This includes all over-the-counter, prescription, and herbal medications;
    • making sure you and your partner get tested and/or treated for HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If left untreated, STIs can put your baby’s and your own health in danger;
    • treating and/or controlling medical conditions before getting pregnant as they could get worse during pregnancy. These include diabetes, hypertension, depression, thyroid disease, tuberculosis, seizure disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer. Consider using birth control until your medical conditions are under control.

Mental Health

  • Talk to family, friends, and your health care provider for emotional support. Everyone feels worried, anxious, sad, or stressed sometimes, but if these feelings don’t go away and they interfere with your daily life, it’s important to talk to your health care provider as too much stress can make it hard to follow good health habits. It can also prevent a pregnancy from happening.
  • If either you or your partner has a history of depression, talking to a health care provider before pregnancy can decrease the risk of depression during pregnancy and after the birth of the baby.

Transition to Parenting

  • Get ready to become a parent. This may include thinking about how you would care for and feed your baby.

Congratulations! You’re pregnant

Pregnancy is a time that can bring many questions. Here is a list of things to consider:

Sexual Health Clinics

Prenatal Care

Prenatal Education

Congratulations! You’re a parent

After Birth Package

A mother`s health is very important for the whole family. Here is a list of things to consider:

Parenting Programs

  • Parenting programs can help make the transition to parenting easier.

Rest and Relaxation

  • Rest is important for your physical, mental, and emotional health.
  • Getting enough sleep (6 hours in a 24 hour period) is a priority.

Weight Loss After Pregnancy.

  • It will take time for a woman’s body to return to it’s pre-pregnant state so it is important to be patient.
  • Moderate weight loss over several months is the safest way, especially if you are breastfeeding, eating healthy and being active.
  • If you need help to make healthy lifestyle changes, sign up for The Health Improvement after Pregnancy (HIP) Program developed by the MotHERS Program. This program focuses on exercises tailored to new moms and healthy eating through smart food choices.

Recovery 

  • The first six weeks after birth are known as the postpartum period. During this period, you may experience:
    • sore nipples;
    • tender breasts;
    • cramps in the uterus;
    • perineum soreness (area around the vagina and anus);
    • vaginal flow (lochia);
    • pain at the incision site if you had caesarean birth or episiotomy;
    • difficulties with urination and bowel function;
    • and feeling tired and having a difficult time getting enough rest.
  • It’s important to give a woman’s body time to heal. Each woman recovers differently.
  • It is important to follow-up with your health care provider around six weeks.  If you have any concerns before the six week visit, contact your health care provider and/or speak with a Public Health Nurse.
  • While the general guideline to have sex is four to six weeks after birth, some couples feel comfortable to have sex again before that time. Use birth control until you are ready to get pregnant again.

 

You’ve made a decision to have another child

Here is a list of things to consider:

Subsequent Pregnancies 

  • Plan Each Pregnancy. The time between pregnancies is an important time for you to take care of yourself.
  • Space Your Pregnancies. To have a healthy pregnancy and baby, wait at least 18-24 months and no more than five years between each pregnancy.

Life Situation

  • Think about what resources you have available to support another pregnancy and baby.
  • Use birth control until you are sure you are ready to get pregnant again.

Preconception Health

  • Get advice from your health care provider about your preconception health.
  • This includes your plans to get pregnant again and having a complete medical check-up.

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