If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, it is important to know how to care for yourself before, during and after your pregnancy. Being pregnant is an important time in your life and it is critical in setting the stage for the lifelong health of your child. Having accurate information will help you to make the best choices so that you, your child and family can be as healthy as possible.
For reliable information about pregnancy planning and having a healthy pregnancy please see:
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)
There is no known safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy. There is also no safe time during pregnancy to drink alcohol. All types of alcohol can be harmful for the pregnant woman and her fetus.
Up to half of all pregnancies are unplanned and a woman may expose her baby to alcohol before she knows she is pregnant. If a woman is sexually active and drinks alcohol, a reliable form of birth control should be used.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is the term used to describe the harms caused by drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Alcohol can affect the fetus at any time during the pregnancy, resulting in physical, mental, behavioural and/or learning disabilities. FASD can be prevented if a woman does not drink alcohol during pregnancy.
It is never too late to cut down and stop drinking during pregnancy. Here are some information and resources are available to help you:
- HealthLink BC: Phone or visit online for 24-hour confidential health information and advice. Or read, Pregnancy and Alcohol Use.
- Here to Help: Provides easy-to-understand self-help resources on mental health and addictions.
- Motherisk: Offers information about alcohol, prescription medication or street drug use during pregnancy. Call toll-free: 1-877-327-4636
- Alcohol & Drug Information and Referral Service: Call 1 800 663-1441 (toll-free) or 604 660-9382 (Lower Mainland) to find resources, support and referral information for treatments and counsellors across the province. The service is confidential, multilingual, free and available 24/7.
Breastfeeding is the healthy first choice for you and your baby. It is the only food your baby needs for the first six months of life. At six months of age, complementary solid foods should be introduced, but health experts recommend that breastfeeding continue for up to two years of age or beyond.
It takes time and practice for you to feel comfortable with breastfeeding your baby. Women are more successful at breastfeeding when they have support. Everyone can provide encouragement and help create an environment that is accepting of breastfeeding mothers.
If you are having concerns about breastfeeding, it is best to get help as soon as possible. Talk to your doctor, midwife, public health nurse or lactation consultant. You can also call 8-1-1 to speak with a registered nurse or dietitian.
Information and Resources:
- HealthyFamilies BC : The Pregnancy and Parenting section provides breastfeeding information, support and videos.
- Breastfeeding Buddy: A web-based tool that provides helpful information, how-to videos, and links to public health support and other resources.
- Motherisk: Offers information about alcohol, prescription medication or street drug use while breastfeeding. Call toll-free: 1-877-327-4636
Depression during Pregnancy and Following Birth (Perinatal Depression)
Depression can occur during pregnancy and up to one year after the baby’s birth. Perinatal/postpartum depression affects as many as one in five B.C. women and has a significant impact on the health of mothers, children and families. Women who experience perinatal depression may have difficulty bonding with their baby or caring for themselves and their infant. Untreated depression can lead to suicide or other serious long-term consequences.
Partners of women experiencing depression may also become depressed. Treatment, medical care and non-judgmental supports are available for both the woman and her partner.
Information and Resources:
- Pacific Post Partum Support Society: Call 604 255-7999 (Lower Mainland) or 1 855 255-7999 (toll-free) Monday to Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
- B.C. Mental Health and Substance Use Services – Reproductive Health: Information and self-care guides for women experiencing depression during pregnancy and after birth.
- HealthyFamilies BC: Getting Help for Perinatal Depression
- B.C. Crisis Line: Crisis lines are not only for people in crisis. You can call for information on local mental health or substance use services or if you just need someone to talk to. Call 310-6789 24 hours a day.
- HealthLink BC: Phone or visit online for 24-hour confidential health information and advice.