Photo by Andria Lindquist
Growing a baby is a lot of work. In order to ensure your body is functioning at its best and that your baby is developing in a safe and healthy environment, it is important to know what can be detrimental to the health of you and your baby. Here is a comprehensive list of everything to avoid during pregnancy.
What Not to Eat
During pregnancy, the immune system becomes increasingly sensitive to viruses, bacteria and parasites that may be present in your food. Protect your baby’s health by carefully choosing what you eat. These are the primary types of food to avoid due to possible contamination with Listeria, E. coli, Salmonella or parasites:
- Soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk, such as Brie, Camembert, feta and Roquefort.
- Fish that are known to contain high levels of mercury, like swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, and shark. Limit fish and shellfish consumption to 12 ounces each week.
- Raw or undercooked fish and meat
- Unpasteurized dairy or juices
- Raw or undercooked sprouts, like alfalfa, clover, radish, or mung bean
- Foods containing raw egg, such as cookie dough or cake batter
What Not to Touch or Breathe in
Chemicals found in common products you use every day can be potentially harmful to you and your baby. Find organic or non-toxic options for these items, or avoid these altogether:
- Tobacco smoke
- Personal care products like shampoo, bath soap, and deodorant
- Garden and lawn products like herbicides, fungicides and pesticides
- Household cleaners
- Paint fumes
Cautions to Take with Drugs and Alcohol
Chemicals from controlled substances can pass through to the baby and affect its development, so you will want to avoid alcohol and all illegal drugs. Contact your doctor or midwife to find out whether an over-the-counter or prescription drug is safe to take during pregnancy.
Activities to Refrain from Doing
During pregnancy, especially after entering the second trimester, it is important to be cautious about engaging in activities where you could fall or somehow cause trauma to your abdomen. Due to an increase in hormones as pregnancy advances, your tendons and ligaments are loosening up as the body prepares itself for childbirth. This change, along with the shifting of your center of gravity caused by a growing belly, call for a need to lower the intensity of your activities. Other exercises that increase risk to you and your baby include those that could limit your oxygen intake, as well as activities that raise your core body temperature. While it is important to stay active while pregnant, here is a list of a few activities that should be sidelined until well after your baby arrives:
- Amusement park rides
- Contact sports like soccer or basketball
- Winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding
- Water sports like scuba diving, waterskiing, and surfing
- Horseback riding
- Running – unless you ran on a normal basis pre-pregnancy
- Use of sauna, hot tubs or long hot baths
Pet Duties to Pass on
If you have furry or scaly babies, you may need to transfer some pet care responsibilities to someone else in the household while you are pregnant. It would be wise to avoid handling any chemicals like flea collars or pet sprays. It is also important to either wear gloves or let someone else take care of cleaning the cat litter box or scooping reptile poop. When you’re out walking your dog, be sure to wear appropriate clothing to avoid tick bites.
Workplace and General Lifestyle Precautions
Depending on your work environment, you may need to consider making changes to ensure you and your baby are safe and healthy. Here is a list of conditions to avoid:
- Prolonged standing
- Heavy lifting, carrying, or climbing
- Excessive noise
- Extreme temperatures
- Exposure to toxic substances
Despite this long list of what to avoid, the short, common sense approach to staying healthy during pregnancy is to seek out regular, continuous prenatal care; take a good prenatal vitamin that includes folic acid; eat regularly and consume lots of healthy, whole foods; choose low-impact forms of exercise and do them often; and minimize stress.