Pregnancy Do’s and Don’ts: What to Avoid During Pregnancy
As an expecting mother, the prospect of bringing new life into the world is a long-lasting joy you’ll cherish into motherhood. Just as important as the delight you feel is the diligence you must show to your health during this life-altering stage. To nurture your baby in the best way possible, you must resist many temptations during pregnancy, so the baby has a seamless transition from womb to world. Loving yourself and your body will translate to your unborn child and make pregnancy a more enjoyable experience while reducing health risks or birth defects.
Avoid Smoking, Drugs, and Alcohol
These are no-brainers and things you should consider avoiding in general. However, if you’re struggling to eliminate these vices during your pregnancy, the following risk factors should persuade you to be more cautious.
Babies born to mothers who smoke during pregnancy are more prone to learning disabilities and may weigh less at birth than children born to mothers who don’t smoke. Your child may also follow in your footsteps and develop smoking habits earlier in his or her life. Psychologic nicotine addiction triggers this habit. Quitting will help to set a good example and to ensure your child has a greater desire to live a healthy lifestyle. The same goes for illegal or hard drugs, which will increase health problems for you and your unborn child.
Alcohol can also pose detrimental effects to your child’s development. Drinking during the first trimester of your pregnancy can be debilitating as this is the time your baby’s growth and brain development begin to take shape. Heavy drinking or drinking more than recommended by your doctor can lead to critical or fatal consequences. These consequences include restricted growth in your womb, premature birth, an early miscarriage, or stillbirth. You could also deliver a baby who has fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Symptoms of FAS include learning disabilities, behavioral problems, or even missing important developmental milestones. Your child may have facial abnormalities and growth or heart defects due to this syndrome.
If you were a heavy or social drinker pre-pregnancy, but have since stopped, there’s no need to fret because the risk of something negative happening to your baby now is low. However, if you find yourself addicted to alcohol during pregnancy, talk to your doctor and get help right away.
Ease Off Caffeine
If you were used to being the working mom who had a cup of coffee every morning as you reached the office, then quitting or severely reducing your caffeine intake might be difficult for you.
Research has determined that you can drink a cup every now and again without incident. However, too much coffee or other caffeinated beverages can lead to a low birth weight for your child, which could even lead to long-term health problems. Caffeine, once it has traveled through your placenta, can increase your baby’s heart rate. There have also been cases where excess caffeine intake has resulted in miscarriages. So, it would be wise to ease off the lattes and espressos for the next few months until you’ve welcomed your newborn to the world.
Leave Raw Food and Drinks Alone
Eating raw or undercooked meat can increase the risk of your baby contracting a foodborne illness such as listeriosis and toxoplasmosis. Foodborne illness can lead to life-threatening illnesses, which could then trigger congenital disabilities or cause a miscarriage. You may also be risking the possibility of contracting food poisoning, and that could lead to the same effects mentioned above.
Furthermore, deli meat such as sausages, hot dogs, and other cured meats are common culprits that cause foodborne illness. However, cooking such processed proteins can reduce your risk. The same thing is advised for eggs and seafood. Drinking raw, unpasteurized milk is also considered a no-no. Ensure that any meat you eat is well-cooked so that your baby can benefit from the nutrients they possess.
Avoid Seafood with High Mercury Levels
Seafood has a lot of good qualities to it, including omega-3 fatty acids, which are ideal for your baby’s eye and brain development. But some types of fish contain very high levels of mercury, and too much mercury can prove detrimental to your baby’s nervous system.
The more the fish ages, the more mercury it is likely to have. If you have any desire to try shark meat, king mackerel, swordfish, or tilefish, now is not the time to satisfy that urge. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notes such fish as unsafe for pregnant women to consume. However, fish with smaller levels of mercury such as shrimp, salmon, anchovies, and light canned tuna are considered safe. Two to three servings a week will suffice. However, you must ensure, like with meat, that these are cooked well and are not contaminated.
No Hot Tubs, Jacuzzis, or Saunas
Spas are often relaxing and might seem like ideal ways to ease your aches and pains during pregnancy. But, when you’re carrying a life inside of you, sitting in a hot tub or sauna isn’t recommended. Elevating your body temperature during your first trimester may lead to birth defects. Research has also shown that your chance of a miscarriage can double by using any of these heated pools or saunas.
Don’t Change Your Kitty Litter
If you’re a cat owner, let someone else change your kitty litter while you’re expecting. The feline waste contains millions of parasites including Toxoplasma gondii, which is a rare parasite that could cause stillbirth or miscarriage. Babies who contract this particular parasite could develop disabilities or have seizures.
Avoid Strenuous Activity
Exercises such as Pilates and yoga are encouraged as the health benefits for both could lead to extensive health benefits for you and your baby. However, contact sports and activities that could risk you falling aren’t advised. Also, avoid exercising on your back or at high altitudes, which could reduce oxygen flow.
For legal case advice and or information about birth- or pregnancy-related issues that have affected your child, contact the Safe Birth Project for all your queries and concerns right away.