Healthy Behaviors During Pregnancy


Smoking is harmful to you and your baby. Pregnancy is the best opportunity to quit the habit — not only for your baby’s health but also for yours.

Why is smoking harmful to your baby?
 Smoke prevents your baby from getting the amount of oxygen it needs. This lack of oxygen can cause your baby to grow more slowly and gain less weight in the womb. Smoking during pregnancy also has been linked to preterm labor (labor that occurs before the 37th week of pregnancy) and other pregnancy complications.


Consuming alcohol while pregnant can cause physical and mental birth defects to your baby. The most serious concern is a condition called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), which is the leading preventable cause of mental retardation.

No amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy, including beer, wine, and liquor. If you happened to take an occasional drink before you knew of your pregnancy, it probably will not harm your baby, but stop drinking alcohol as soon as you think you might be pregnant.


Recreational drugs can hurt your baby. Some can cause birth defects; others can cause your baby to be born too small or very sick.


Talk to your provider before taking any over the counter (OTC) medication, or if you are on any medication for high blood pressure, diabetes, or another medical condition. If you are on any medication or herbal preparation, be sure to bring that to your appointment with your provider.

Even nonprescription medications may carry a risk, although it is generally small. For example, if a woman takes aspirin shortly before the day the baby is born, it can increase the risk of excessive bleeding in the mother and baby.


 Stay away from street drugs. For information about drug treatment in your area, go to

  • Take only medications prescribed to you or recommended by a healthcare provider who knows you are pregnant. However, do not stop taking a prescription drug without your healthcare provider’s consent.
  • Check with your healthcare provider before taking any OTC drugs, or herbal teas, pills, or other supplements.