Nurturing life Your reference in perinatal nutrition, from pregnancy to childhood

What behaviors can be adopted during pregnancy to decrease risk factors for low birth weight and premature labor?

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By : Nurturing Life's Nutrition Team | Montreal Diet Dispensary

Adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced and varied diet, some physical activity, and the prevention and/or control of certain medical conditions can help avoid these risk factors. In addition, stress management and family or professional support can help decrease behaviors that put the baby at risk.

To learn more about the consequences of prematurity and low birth weight babies, click here.


It is crucial that a pregnant woman consume three balanced meals per day along with nutritious snacks including varied foods. For more information, please consult the following tools:

Having a healthy weight before pregnancy (BMI between 18.5 and 24.5) helps to avoid certain risk factors. Weight loss may be recommended before pregnancy for this reason. When a pregnant woman is obese during pregnancy, she must not limit her diet or voluntarily lose weight. The best strategies to attain a weight gain goal without exceeding it are balanced meals and good quality nutrition. If a woman presents with thinness or obesity pre-pregnancy, it is always preferable to consult a registered dietitian.


Moderate physical activity offers many benefits for pregnant women (when there are no contra-indications), including an impact on weight. It is recommended to practice 30 minutes of physical activity of moderate intensity daily. To learn more, please consult the following article.


Diabetes during pregnancy requires very tight control. If a pregnant woman is diabetic before pregnancy, she must have a medical follow-up before the pregnancy occurs. If diabetes develops during pregnancy (gestational diabetes), the pregnant woman will be followed in a clinic for at risk pregnancies, and the recommendations given should be well followed. Maintaining a BMI of 25m/kg2 or less before pregnancy can help prevent gestational diabetes.

A healthy, balanced, and varied diet, along with physical activity and a healthy weight gain according to recommendations, while avoiding an excessive weight gain, can help prevent the appearance of hypertension and gestational diabetes.


If a pregnant woman is stressed out due to a financial or conjugal situation, she should be directed to community resources or a CLSC to receive necessary support (see below).

Relaxation exercises or stress management techniques can thus be suggested. This includes respiration exercises, yoga, swimming, walking, meditation, massages, music, or art therapy.


Risky behaviors (alcohol, cigarettes, drugs) should be avoided for all pregnant women. To learn more about these behaviors, consult the following articles (articles will follow).

Any woman presenting with one or more modifiable risk factors will greatly benefit from support by health professionals. Here are available resources in risky situations:

  • Montreal Diet Dispensary

2182 av. Lincoln

Montreal, QC

H3H 1J3

(514) 937-5375


The Public Health Agency of Canada has contributed financially to the production of Nurturing Life.

The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the official views of the Public Health Agency of Canada.