Effects of Lifestyle on Pregnancy


Many women work until shortly before delivery and return to work after their maternity leave. Some women may be concerned about the effects of work on their pregnancy. If your job is very strenuous or stressful and it is affecting your well-being, your caregiver may suggest cutting back your hours. You may be advised to stop working if you have given birth to more than one premature baby or are expecting more than one baby. Otherwise, if you are healthy — with an uncomplicated pregnancy and you work in a job that presents no greater hazards than those in daily life — you can usually work until close to your due date.

If you have any questions about workplace hazards (e.g. exposure to toxic substances), discuss them with your caregiver.


If you are an adolescent, it is your decision whether or not you want to continue going to school during your pregnancy. Some schools offer special programs for pregnant adolescents. Your ability to handle emotional stress, academic pressures and physical changes should help guide your plans. Discuss your concerns with your caregiver who will refer you to the program social worker if needed.


Many medications can cross the placenta from you to your baby and some are harmful to the baby. Check with your caregiver before discontinuing any medication, taking any new prescription or taking any over-the-counter medications. Make sure that your caregiver knows about any medical problems that you may have and medications that have been prescribed to you. Please inform your caregiver of any over-the-counter medications or herbs that you are taking. You should avoid using insect repellents containing DEET. 


Use of street drugs can cause serious risks to you and your unborn baby. Prematurity and problems with the placenta have been associated with drug use. Drug use during and after the birth of your baby can also alter your ability to make appropriate decisions about your health care and the care of your baby. Members of the health care team have a professional responsibility to intervene on your baby’s behalf if they suspect that you have a problem with drugs. Speak to your caregiver who will be able to offer you assistance in dealing with this issue.


Smoking increases your risk of developing numerous medical conditions. Premature birth, low birth weight and bleeding are complications of pregnancy that increase when a mother smokes. There are many resources available to help reduce or quit smoking. Please discuss your concerns with your health care provider who will be able to direct you to community resources that can assist you.

Reasons to stop smoking

  • Your baby will get more oxygen
  • Less risk of baby being born too early and having the problems associated with prematurity
  • Your baby is less likely to have a low birth weight
  • Less risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
  • You may live longer and are less likely to get problems like heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and chronic lung disease
  • You will have more energy and breathe more easily
  • Your food will taste better
  • You will have more money to spend on other things
  • You will feel good about doing it for yourself and the baby

Learn more on the following websites: 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Public Health Agency of Canada
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada

young child

Call today for help quitting!  Do it for your baby.  Do it for you 1-866-366-3667


When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, it reaches the baby quickly through the blood stream. The same level that goes through your bloodstream also goes through the baby’s. Many studies have been done to show the effects of drinking alcohol during pregnancy. We do not know what the safe amount of alcohol in pregnancy is and we recommend drinking alcohol not at all or rarely during pregnancy. If you have concerns or questions about your alcohol use during pregnancy, speak with your health care provider. 

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy may lead to lifelong disabilities in the child known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Learn more on the following websites:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 
Public Health Agency of Canada


Travel during pregnancy is safe unless your health care provider indicates otherwise. The most comfortable time to travel is during the second trimester (14-28 weeks). Here are a few tips:

  • When travelling by car, always wear your seatbelt. You will be more comfortable if you can stop frequently. Get up and walk around every hour or so and stretch your legs and flex your ankles.
  • Flying is generally safe. Most airlines allow you to fly up to 36 weeks. Try to get an aisle seat so you can get up every hour or so and move around and have access to the washroom. Eat lightly to avoid air sickness. Metal detectors in the airport are not harmful to the baby.
  • If you’re planning to travel outside of the country, discuss your plans with your health care provider. Depending on your destination, you may be exposed to diseases that are not common in Canada. You and your health care provider will decide whether you should be immunized.
  • Take a copy of your antenatal records with you when you travel.
  • Try to think about the kind of care that you would receive in an emergency when you are picking a destination (medical care is generally better in developed countries than in developing countries). 

What are the signs of a blood clot?

 • Shortness of breath

 • Calf pain

 • One leg red, hot and more swollen than the other

Whatever your mode of travel, help prevent blood clots by walking every few hours and wearing compression stockings while you travel. 

Travelling somewhere exotic? 

Visit the International Medical Services Clinic  to make sure your shots are up to date! The clinic is located at 4000 Leslie Street, opposite the General site of North York General Hospital. 

Get more information about travelling while pregnant on the Government of Canada website.

You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.