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Health Before Pregnancy

Couple cuddling on couch with coffee cup   Are you and your partner thinking about starting a family?

If so, now is the time to start planning. The time before pregnancy is known as the preconception period. During this time, men and women need to make healthy choices to help the baby get off to a great start.

For the Man: Did you know that sperm is made about three months before pregnancy? Healthy sperm can help lead to a healthy pregnancy. If your sperm are damaged, this may:

    • Make it harder to get pregnant.
    • Increase the risk of miscarriage.
    • Cause your baby to be born at a low birth weight.

How do you make healthy sperm? Avoid or decrease your exposure to the following for at least three months before pregnancy: 


For the Woman:

Did you know that all women of childbearing age should be taking a multivitamin that has folic acid in it? Also, before you start trying to get pregnant, it is important to talk to your family doctor about the following:


Once you start trying to get pregnant, try to take all the precautions you would during pregnancy. You should avoid alcohol, unnecessary drugs, and smoking. The reason for this is that many of the baby’s major organs start forming in the first few weeks of pregnancy, often before you know you are pregnant.

Once you’re pregnant, talk to your doctor. Hopefully, you’ve already been taking a multivitamin that has folic acid in it. Now that you’re pregnant, you’ll need to switch to a prenatal multivitamin that has more folic acid and other nutrients that are important during pregnancy. You also need to continue to be aware of what you eat, drink, touch, or breathe in.

All of this effort will increase your chance of being a healthy and a happy family.

For more information about health before pregnancy, follow these links:


Best Start. (2005). Your health before pregnancy. Retrieved June 22, 2009, from,  

Government of Canada. (2008). The sensible guide to a healthy pregnancy. Ottawa, Ontario: Public HealthAgency of Canada.

Public Health Agency of Canada. (2008). Are you thinking of becoming pregnant? Retrieved June 22, 2009, from,

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada. (2009). Healthy beginnings: Giving your baby thebest start from preconception to birth. Mississauga, Ontario: John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.

Windsor-Essex County Health Unit. (2007). Folic acid: For all women of childbearing age. Retrieved June22, 2009, from,

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