Prenatal Health

How well you take care of yourself during pregnancy has a direct effect on the health of your baby. You can find information on a variety of topics including: vitamins and supplements, nutrition and exercise, and prenatal tests.

General Information

  • Although each pregnancy is unique, certain changes are common to all normal pregnancies. A basic understanding of physical and emotional changes of pregnancy helps a woman to understand pregnancy and have a positive experience.
  • Preconceptual Counseling. If you are having sex and you are capable of becoming pregnant, you should be taking 0.4 mg. of folic acid each day in case you become pregnant–even if you are not planning to become pregnant for a long time. This decreases the risk of spina bifida in the fetu


  • To become pregnant, a couple must have intercourse during the woman’s fertile time of the month, which is right before and during ovulation. Because it is tough to pinpoint the exact day of ovulation, having intercourse every second day during this time maximizes the chances of conception.

Signs of Pregnancy

The signs of early pregnancy can include:

  • Missed period
  • Nausea and vomiting (often called ‘morning’ sickness, but it can occur at any time)
  • Breast tenderness and enlargement
  • Fatigue
  • Passing urine more frequently than usual, particularly at night
  • Cravings for some foods, distaste for foods you usually like, and a sour or metallic taste that persists even when you’re not eating (dysgeusia).

Many of the signs of pregnancy, such as a missed period (amenorrhoea), nausea (morning sickness) or tiredness can also be caused by stress or illness, so if you think you are pregnant take a home pregnancy test (urine test) or see your doctor, who will administer a urine test, blood test or ultrasound scan. 


  • Even before pregnancy begins, nutrition is a primary factor in the health of mother and baby. A well-balanced diet before conception contributes to a healthy pregnancy and will probably need few changes.
  • One of the most important things a woman can do to ensure a healthy pregnancy for herself and her baby is to eat a well-balanced diet. Good nutrition during pregnancy is essential to creating an environment that allows the baby to grow and flourish.
  • When you are pregnant, your baby grows inside you. Everything you eat and drink while you are pregnant affects your baby.
  • Healthcare officials have issued a new advisory on the dangers of eating fish. Healthcare officials are concerned that the level of mercury in fish might pose certain risks to a developing fetus.
  • Food can be contaminated with a bacteria called Listeria. Learn to protect your food against this common bacteria.

Prenatal Testing

    • Home pregnancy kits provide privacy and fast results, and can detect pregnancy as early as 6 days after conception, or 1 day after a missed menstrual period.
    • A variety of prenatal tests are available. While not all patients need or will have all the various tests, it is good to know that they are available.
    • Routine blood tests at different stages of the pregnancy, such as blood group, iron levels, checks for maternal diabetes and infections
    • Ultrasound (first trimester) – a painless, non-invasive scan done within the first three months of pregnancy. This can be used to confirm the number of babies and helps to calculate the date you are due to give birth. This is known as your estimated due date
    • Nuchal translucency test – this test is performed during the first trimester ultrasound. A measurement is taken of the baby’s nape (back) of the neck. A larger than normal measurement may suggest Down syndrome, but further tests would be required to confirm this.
    • Ultrasound (second trimester) – this is usually performed between 18 and 20 weeks. It is used to check the baby’s development, and monitor the size and location of the placenta. The baby’s sex can often be determined (if you wish to know), however it is important to note this may not be 100% accurate.
    • Glucose (Gestational Diabetes) Test – most women are diagnosed using a pathology test, which requires a blood sample to be taken before and after a glucose drink. These tests are usually performed between 24 and 28 weeks into the pregnancy, or earlier if the woman is at high risk.
    • Strep B Swab – towards the end of your pregnancy a vaginal swab may be ordered to determine whether you have Streptococcal infection – group B, which can be transmitted to your baby during birth.If the bacteria are found in a pregnant woman, intravenous antibiotics are given during the labour.
    • Ultrasound (third trimester) – in the last three months of pregnancy, an ultrasound may be offered to check the baby’s growth, fluid levels around the baby and the positioning of the placenta