When planning a pregnancy, eating a healthy, balanced diet will help provide the nutrients you need for optimal health.
Follow Canada’s Food Guide. This will help you have enough energy and the nutrients you need. The guide recommends a daily intake of the following foods:
- Vegetables and Fruit (7-8 servings for women, 8-10 for men).
- Grain Products (6-7 servings for women, 8 for men).
- Milk and Alternatives (2 servings).
- Meat and Alternatives (2 servings for women, 3 for men).
To find out more on nutrition labels and serving sizes, visit the Interactive Tool page provided by the Government of Canada.
Take a multivitamin daily
A daily multivitamin provides important vitamins and minerals, including folic acid and iron. Folic acid helps cells develop and reduces the risk of some birth defects. Folic acid is important for all women who are capable of becoming pregnant.
All women of reproductive age should take a multivitamin with at least 0.4 mg of folic acid each day. Some women need more folic acid or iron. It is important to take only what is recommended by your health care provider. Check the label on your bottle of multivitamins.
When planning a pregnancy, or when pregnant, it is best to avoid the following foods:
- Foods most likely to cause listeriosis such as:
- Raw or undercooked meat, poultry, and fish.
- Non-dried deli meats.
- Raw or unpasteurized milk products.
- Unpasteurized fruit juices.
- Fish containing high levels of mercury, such as fresh/frozen tuna, shark, swordfish, marlin, orange roughy, and escolar.
- Health Canada recommends pregnant women limit their intake of canned (white) albacore tuna to less than 300g (10 ounces) per week.
- Excess caffeine. Women of reproductive age should have no more than 300 mg/day (i.e., approximately two cups of coffee) and men, no more than 400 mg/day.
- Liver and liver products, due to their high concentrations of vitamin A.
Discuss the safety of herbal teas, artificial sweeteners, and natural health products with your health care provider.
Try to avoid eating canned foods to reduce your exposure to bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used in the lining of most cans. Fresh and frozen foods, and foods in glass containers are safer options. Consider choosing organic foods, when possible.
For more information:
- Dietitians of Canada.
- Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health & Environment – Focus on Bisphenol A.
- EatRight Ontario – 1-877-510-5102.
- Environment Canada – Fish Consumption Advisories.
- Region of Waterloo – Guide to Eating Fish for Women, Children and Families.
- Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists - Folic Acid.
- Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists - Healthy Eating.
- Your health care provider.