A pregnant woman helps an older child cut vegetables in the kitchen.  When, what and how first foods are introduced is important.

Pregnancy a powerful time 

Pre-conception, pregnancy and the early years are key periods in which healthy lifestyle choices can positively influence a mother and child's life-long health.

Good nutrition and physical activity can help to reduce the risk of both the mother and child developing diseases later in life such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Some cancers.

The great news is that healthy eating and activity choices can be simple, affordable, and achievable for all cultures and family situations.

It's becoming more and more important for maternity and child health professionals to include discussions about healthy lifestyles in their work with mothers, infants, families and whanau.


Find out more about what this means for you

pregnant woman exercising

Lifestyle changes in pregnancy make a
difference to caesarean and diabetes rates

The largest research project in the world looking at lifestyle interventions in pregnancy has found that exercise and a healthy diet can reduce the risk of caesarean section and diabetes in pregnancy.

The study looked at the diet and physical activity of more than 12,000 pregnant women living in 16 countries.


The researchers found that a healthy diet combined with physical activity:

  • Significantly reduced the mother’s weight gain during pregnancy by an average of 0.7 kg compared to the control group
  • Lowered the odds of the mother having a caesarean section by about 10 per cent
  • Reduced the risk of diabetes in pregnancy by 24 per cent.


The researchers say these interventions benefitted the mother, but there was no strong evidence that the unborn baby was affected in any negative way.


Read more about this study into lifestyle interventions in pregnancy.

Healthy Start Workforce Project Registration Heading

The Healthy Start Workforce Project offers free-of-charge workforce development programmes.


Our education programme explores the role of good nutrition and physical activity during conception, pregnancy and infancy in reducing health risks later in life. 


Our Healthy Conversation Skills workshop enhances your skills to support clients to make lasting behaviour changes, especially in the area of nutrition and physical activity. 

Find out more:  



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