What to Avoid During Pregnancy
What to Avoid When Pregnant
What Pregnant Women Should Avoid
During pregnancy, it should be a goal for any mother to try to keep herself and her baby as healthy and safe as possible. To do that, the mother needs to take certain precautions when eating, moving, working, and socializing.
What should be avoided during pregnancy? Below you will find a list of foods, drinks, medicines, vitamins, illnesses, work conditions, and exercises to avoid during pregnancy to keep you and your baby safe and healthy.
Keep Your Baby Healthy During Pregnancy
Foods to Avoid When Pregnant
During pregnancy, women need to be very aware of what they eat. They are no longer eating just for themselves; anything that is ingested makes its way to the baby as well. To keep the mother and baby healthy, there are certain foods to be avoided during pregnancy.
Here are some foods to avoid and why pregnant women should avoid them:
- Foods that may contain salmonella-raw eggs, raw poultry, Caesar salad dressing, cake batter, cookie dough, hollandaise sauce, sunny side up eggs, homemade ice cream
- Foods that may contain listeriosis-soft cheeses, undercooked poultry, red meat, seafood, hotdogs
- Fish that may contain mercury-shark, swordfish, tuna
- Fish that may contain parasites or viruses-freshwater fish, sushi dishes, raw shellfish, ceviche, and mahimahi
- Herbs that cause distress to mother and baby - Echinacea, ginger, raspberry leaf, jasmine, arbor vitae, caraway, pennyroyal, wormwood, etc.
What Can You Eat While Pregnant?
You can eat anything that is healthy for both you and the baby, but keep in mind that you should not double your food intake. You should only need approximately 300 extra calories a day, depending on your doctor's orders.
Keep your diet balanced and nutritional, eating as many fruits and vegetables as you can. You can occasionally indulge in some sweets, but be careful not to have too many!
Drinks to Avoid
There are a few drinks to avoid when pregnant to protect the health and well-being of your baby.
- Alcohol (beer, wine, distilled spirits): There is no set safe amount of alcohol for a pregnant woman to drink. The risk with alcohol is that it can cause FAS, for fetal alcohol syndrome, so it's best to avoid all alcohol. Of course, there are some that say that a little wine once in a while would be okay, but why take the risk?
- Unpasteurized milk, juice, or eggnog: Pasteurization is a process used to reduce the amounts of microorganisms that could make people sick, namely E.coli, listeria, salmonella, and toxoplasmosis. Make sure any milk, fruit juice or eggnog you drink is properly pasteurized to remove the microorganisms that could make you sick and potentially damage your baby's neurological system.
Drinking During Pregnancy
Did you have any alcoholic drinks during your pregnancy?
Medications to Avoid During Pregnancy
Medications taken by a pregnant women do cross the placenta and can affect the growing baby. Basically, any medication taken by the mother can be harmful to the baby, especially if directions are not followed.
Two medications you will be told to avoid are aspirin and ibuprofen, which work by thinning the blood. Avoid taking these for pain.
Other medications to definitely avoid are:
- Herbal pills, minerals, amino acids, 'natural' medicines--Not approved for pregnancy
- Regular vitamins--Too strong for pregnant women
If you have a condition that requires medication, speak with your doctor. You may have to either continue taking the medication while being monitored or stop taking the medication.
What Medications Are Safe During Pregnancy?
What Can Pregnant Women Take for a Headache?
If you develop a headache while pregnant, you can take acetaminophen (Tylenol) as directed. Other remedies include using a cold compress on your neck, a gentle massage, and resting when possible.
Illnesses to Avoid During Pregnancy
- Chicken pox. For most women who have had chicken pox or the vaccine, this is not a concern, but for those who have had neither, it can cause birth defects in the baby, especially in the first few months of pregnancy. If you have come in contact with someone who has chicken pox, speak with your doctor immediately.
- Fifth disease (or parvovirus B19). This illness comes in the form of a rash, one that forms for the most part on the face. It causes a reduction in the amount of blood cells that the body makes. Small children are the usual carriers. It is spread from nasal secretions, so it's best to avoid being near a person who has the illness and to avoid touching anything they may have touched. In the most severe cases (pretty rare), this illness can cause still-birth or miscarriage if the mother contracts the virus before 20 weeks gestation.
- Sexually transmitted diseases. Protect yourself and your baby by being safe during sexual intercourse with a partner who may have an infection or disease of this nature. Babies can become severely impaired or be stillborn if infected during the birth process or if the illness passes through the placenta. Be aware that these illnesses can be passed also by unclean needles and other ways as well.
- Toxoplasmosis. This illness is caused by a microscopic parasite. Most of the time pregnant women hear it in reference to handling cat litter, but it can also be found in contaminated produce or water, contaminated meat, or contaminated soil.
- Malaria. Malaria is an infection that is widespread on the African continent, claiming the lives of hundreds of thousands newborns every year. It causes severe anemia for the mother and can cause the baby to be stillborn, premature, or born with a low birth weight. Avoid travelling in such countries that have malaria during pregnancy if possible.
- Dehydration. This is such a simple illness to avoid, yet many women find themselves suffering from it. Dehydration is caused when the mother does not drink enough water, which is vital for her health and the overall health of the baby. Solution? Drink a lot of water!
Chicken Pox and Pregnancy
Did you ever have chicken pox?
Work Conditions to Avoid While Pregnant
Most pregnant women are able to work until they go into labor, but it's best to be careful when taking on certain tasks or handling materials.
There may come a time when you need to discuss your duties with your boss. Do not be afraid to do so; pregnant women are protected under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Here are some things to consider:
- Sitting or standing for long periods of time. Sitting or standing for long periods of time can cause muscle strain and cramps, and restrict circulation. Take breaks every 30 minutes.
- Being exposed to harmful chemicals. Fumes from chemicals can be harmful to you and the baby. Wear the proper protective gear when working with chemicals and talk with your doctor about the risks.
- Lifting heavy items. Lifting heavy items can cause unnecessary back strain, especially in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters when you're already carrying extra weight.
- Traveling. Traveling in the first two trimesters shouldn't be a problem, but once you enter into the 3rd trimester, you will want to stay closer to home. Plus, sitting in a car or on a plane for long periods of time isn't good for circulation.
FMLA and Maternity Leave from Work
- How Does FMLA Work?
Learn how FMLA, the Family Medical Leave Act, works and how employees are protected under the law. Information about maternity leave and FMLA is provided.
How to Avoid Fatigue During Pregnancy
- How to Fight Fatigue While Pregnant
Pregnancy fatigue is often one of the first symptoms of pregnancy. Learn how to fight fatigue during pregnancy and keep your pregnant body feeling refreshed.
Sports and Exercises to Avoid When Pregnant
It is very important to get exercise during pregnancy, but there are a few exercises and sports to avoid.
- Exercises that require you to lay flat on your back. When you lay on your back, especially in mid to late pregnancy, you are putting pressure on the vena cava, a vein that carries blood back to your heart from the lower half of your body. If you restrict the circulation of blood in that manner, you are also restricting the flow of blood to your baby.
- Sit-ups, double leg lifts. Aside from the difficulties you would have simply from the obstruction of your large belly, these exercises require you to lay on your back.
- Exercises that require jerky, bouncy or high impact moves. Any exercises that cause you to move suddenly can cause you to fall and potentially harm the baby.
- Contact sports. This should be self-explanatory, but any sports that require you to be in contact with an object or other people should be avoided so that neither you nor the baby are injured.
- Downhill snow skiing, snow boarding, in-line skating, skateboarding, horseback riding, or gymnastics. These sports may cause you to fall and greatly injure yourself or the baby.
- Water skiing, diving, or surfing. Hitting water surface at a high speed can harm you or the baby.
- Scuba diving. The deeper you go in water, the more pressure is put on you and your baby. This pressure is not good for the baby and can cause decompression sickness, which is when gases in the body can form bubbles, disrupting skeletal, muscular, and neurological systems in the body.
Best Exercise for Pregnancy
Walking is the best exercise for pregnancy as it poses almost zero risk to the mother and baby. Walking is an aerobic exercise that anyone can do. It helps to improve circulation, helps to prevent fatigue, and helps with the movement in the digestive tract, which is all perfect for a pregnant body.
Only equipment required: A good pair of walking shoes.
What a Pregnant Woman Should Avoid
Remember, if you are in doubt about anything you think you should avoid, call your doctor for clarification. He or she will be able to give you the most accurate information concerning your particular health condition or question.
Have a healthy pregnancy!
Your Pregnancy Week by Week by Glade Curtis
What to Expect When You're Expecting by Heidi Murkoff
Your Pregnancy and Childbirth Month to Month by the American College of Gynecologists
Questions & Answers
I drank a lot of alcohol and ate seafood during the first five weeks of my pregnancy not knowing I was pregnant. Will my baby be in danger?
Believe it or not, this happens to a lot of women. It happened to me during my second pregnancy, before I knew I was pregnant. Thankfully, at such an early stage, the baby shouldn't be affected. It's important now that you know that you avoid alcohol and eat seafood that is thoroughly cooked.
What is the best sleeping position for a pregnant woman?
Many medical professionals will tell you that sleeping on your left side is beneficial for both you and the baby. As a mom who has had four kids, I suggest that you sleep however you find yourself comfortable. I used a large pregnancy pillow that supported both my back and my legs when I slept on my side. I also found comfort when I slept in a reclining chair.