In the last article written on this blog ’14 Fun Things to Do While Pregnant‘, the focus was on pointing out just because your pregnant doesn’t mean you have to find a deep dark cave to go into only to come out after 9 months.
To be honest, after researching and finding so many fun things, I was left with a tiny amount of regret. However, the reality is, there are things you should try to avoid, or at least cut down for the health of the baby.
If you read the last article, some of the do’s are also don’ts (coffee, exercise), that’s only because things in moderation aren’t that bad after all.
What Not to do…
1. Eat these foods: Some foods carry a risk of infections, such as toxoplasmosis or listeriosis. Others can give you food poisoning, such as salmonella. Others have too much vitamin A or mercury, which can harm your developing fetus.
Listeria infection is not common, but if you get it can severely damage your unborn baby. These foods that are more likely to carry listeria:
- Mould‑ripened soft cheese (camembert or brie), and soft
blue‑veined cheese, there is no risk with hard cheese such as cheddar,
parmesan or stilton, or with cottage cheese or processed cheese.
- Paté (even vegetable pâté).
- Unpasteurized milk.
Salmonella food poisoning is not likely to harm your baby, but it can give you a severe bout of diarrhea and vomiting. Foods that are more likely to contain salmonella.
- Unpasteurized milk.
- Avoid eating raw or partially cooked eggs or food that may contain
them (mayonnaise) unless they are produced under a food safety
standard called the British Lion Code of Practice.
Toxoplasmosis infection is rare but if you get it can severely damage your unborn baby. Foods that are more common to carry the toxoplasma parasite:
- Uncooked or under cooked ready‑prepared meals.
- Raw or partially cooked meat, especially poultry.
- Unwashed vegetables and salad.
- Cured or fermented meat (these can made safe by freezing or cooking before eating). Too much vitamin A can affect your growing baby.
Foods that contain high doses of vitamin A are:
- Liver and liver products.
- High-dose multivitamin supplements, fish liver oil supplements, or any supplements containing vitamin A.
If you eat the following you are at risk of eating mercury in excess and other substances that may harm your growing baby:
- Shark, swordfish or marlin.
- More than two tuna steaks a week (about 140g cooked or 170g raw each).
- More than four medium-sized cans of tuna a week.
- More than two portions of oily fish a week, such as salmon, trout, mackerel and herring.
It is healthy to eat fish within the limits above though as it’s a good source of nutrition for your growing baby.
2. Don’t diet during pregnancy: Dieting will put you at risk of depriving your baby of nutrients needed to develop properly. Weight gain is a healthy and very normal during pregnancy.
3 Coffee: It’s common knowledge coffee in moderation is fine. Two 2 ounce cups with some water intake is recommended. Over doing the caffeine intake doesn’t appear to cause birth defects but it might increase the risk of miscarriage, or having a baby with low birth weight. Most evidence on the risk of caffeine consumption while pregnant is not conclusive, so why risk it in excess?
4. Alcohol: No shocker here. When drinking while pregnant the alcohol crosses the placenta, and can affect the fetus. Potentially causing fetal alcohol syndrome. The fetus may develop a wide range of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Researchers are unsure how much, if any, alcohol is safe so doctors recommend against it.
5. Smoking: Smoking cigarettes can cause serious health risks, heart disease, cancer etc. Smoking while pregnant can cause serious health risks to the baby during and after the pregnancy. For example:
- Premature birth.
- Congenital abnormalities, such as cleft lip or cleft palate.
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
- Issues with the placenta.
- Learning or behavioral issues as your baby grows.
Like drinking, these days it’s pretty common knowledge these habits should cease upon learning of pregnancy. Keep in mind second hand smoke is to be avoided as it has more chemicals present than what’s inhaled by smoking. The above risks are also possible with exposure to second hand smoke.
6. Drugs: Illegal drugs or misusing certain prescription drug is are never a good idea in terms of health. In the case of pregnancy, the intake of these substances is a shared experience between the mother and fetus.
To the extent a mother’s addiction can cause a newborn to go through neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). A baby with NAS will go through substance withdrawal at birth.
If you find yourself in this situation seek help. Be truthful with your doctor to get the best care and support you need during your pregnancy. The more the doctors know, the more they can help you and your baby to get the right treatment.
7. Certain Medications: Just because you don’t need a prescription doesn’t mean the medication won’t put you at risk. The only medications you can trust is what you doctor prescribes. All others consult your doctor or read the packaging. You will be surprised how many over the counter drugs advise against use while pregnant.
Personal story, my husband and I put off trying to become pregnant for months because I got laser eye surgery and when I researched the eye drops I would be taking while healing, there was potential for birth defects. Research everything.
8. Exercise in excess: Of course exercise is recommended while pregnant for overall health and the added fitness needed for child birth. Everything has it’s limits.
Rather than just watching your heart rate, doctors agree you should practice self awareness and listen to your body. In terms of exertion, on a scale of 1-10 (1 barely moving – 10 completely out of breath), a 3-4 will be beneficial overall for your pregnancy, and you shouldn’t exceed a 6-7.
What about long distant running, distance and indoor cycling, and even cross training? Surprisingly as long as you are accustomed to it already is it OK to continue.
9. Contact Sports: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends avoiding any sports with potential impacts. Contact sports increase the risk of placental abruption, the premature separation of the placenta from the uterine wall. Placental
abruption is a severe condition that can lead to preterm birth, pregnancy
loss, or stillbirth.
10. Amusement park rides: Read contact sports paragraph.
11. Risk a Fall: As the belly expands your center of gravity shifts. Playing sports and even dancing can put you at risk of a fall, especially if you brave enough to where stilettos. It’s recommended to put those types of shoes in the back of the closet for future use.
12. Overheating: While relaxing in hot water may sound like a good way to ease
pregnancy discomfort, experts recommend avoiding hot tubs and saunas.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, hot tubs can cause hyperthermia, or abnormally high body temperature, which may lead to congenital abnormalities.
Additional activities that may cause the body temperature to rise too high include:
- Hot yoga or Pilates.
- Sunbathing for too long.
- Exposure to extreme heat.
- Strenuous exercise.
Well the good news is some of these don’ts aren’t really that great for you, smoking, drinking, drugs etc. Those should be easy to cut out. Other things like sports and exercise will be too difficult to near the end of your pregnancy anyways.
Seems obvious to say anyone who becomes pregnant expects a major lifestyle change. The common theme in my conclusion, is research before you need to do it so you can make the best game plan possible.
Hopefully there’s enough information to make your plan. Thanks for reading feel free to leave questions or comments below!