10 Things to Avoid During Pregnancy

By Daphne Holmes

Pregnancy poses questions for first-time mothers and experienced mothers alike. Which products are safe to use during pregnancy? How much exercise is appropriate during various stages of pregnancy? Are some activities strictly off-limits?

These and other questions challenge would-be mothers who want to follow prevailing wisdom about pregnancy, including dietary recommendations and safety measures that make sense for expectant mothers. And while women handle their pregnancies in unique, personal ways, there are several common-sense approaches to pregnancy most soon-to-be moms share. The following items, for example, should be avoided during pregnancy.

1. Smoking

The toxic impacts of smoking quickly have negative impacts on the development and health of babies, so expectant mothers cannot smoke. Nicotine and other compounds are particularly dangerous, resulting in low birth weight and other physical problems for babies born of smoking mothers.

2. Alcohol

There is no existing proven safe alcohol consumption level designated for pregnant women. In other words, the best approach to alcohol and pregnancy is to entirely abstain from alcohol use. While social convention dictates a moderate amount of consumption might not be damaging to a woman’s pregnancy or resulting child, many expectant mothers maintain strict prohibition against drinking.

3. Caffeine

Like other adults seeking a morning pick-me-up, expectant mothers are often accustomed to a regular daily coffee or tea and the caffeine they contain. Unfortunately for caffeine dependent pregnant women, there are limits imposed on the amount of consumption deemed safe during pregnancy. Cola and other soda, energy drinks, coffee, tea as well as chocolate and cocoa each contain caffeine so accounting for all of its sources is important for accurate control.

4. Chemicals

Many of the same exposures risky to adults are similarly dangerous to developing babies, so common sense plays a role in healthy pregnancy and childbirth. And though we may not be bothered by limited contact with chemicals, unsafe handling puts babies at risk, because they receive concentrated exposure due to their size, weight and dependence on their mothers’ nourishment. Harsh cleaners, like oven sprays, as well as paint and varnish should be avoided during pregnancy. And applying insect repellant can also expose babies to harmful chemicals like DEET.

5. Problem Foods

Healthy eating during pregnancy supports problem-free childbirth and fit children, so dietary considerations are slightly different for expectant mothers than they are for the rest of the population. Undercooked and raw foods, from meat to eggs, are to be avoided, as well as deli meats and other foods prone to bacterial contamination. Certain seafood, perhaps exposed to pollutants, should also be sidestepped during pregnancy, as mercury and other harmful exposures can pass to developing children.

6. Saunas and Hot Tubs

Excessive exposure to saunas and hot tubs isn’t advisable under normal circumstances, but expectant mothers are particularly sensitive to their exposure. Any activity with the potential to overheat a expectant mother, whether through intentional “sweats” or hot “soaks”, can be detrimental to a child’s development.

7. Stress

Preparing for a child is a stressful experience of its own, but combined with the challenges of carrying children, moms-to-be carry exceptional burdens during pregnancy. As a result, families face mood swings and other emotional hurdles during pregnancy. Recognizing the temporary nature of the situation and looking ahead to brighter days are strategies used by forward-thinking mothers-to-be, helping them through difficult times.

8. Traumatic Movements

Staying active during pregnancy is encouraged – though certain physical activities should be limited during pregnancy, especially during certain phases when high-impact physical activity can damage baby’s development. Contact sports should obviously be avoided, for example, but there are other prohibitions against certain carnival rides and even pastimes like tennis and jogging. There are all kinds of great options of physical activities modified for pregnant women – take advantage of those! When in doubt, expectant mothers listen to their doctors and their bodies for the right guidance.

9. Biking and Riding Horseback

Alongside other sports with the potential to jar expectant mothers, biking and horseback riding are not great for would-be moms. Exercises designed to simulate biking motions, on the other hand, furnish welcomed stretching and conditioning opportunities for active mothers sidelined during pregnancy.

10. Animals and Pregnancy

Expectant mothers like to maintain normalcy at home during pregnancy, to help them find consistency during the challenging period. Companionship from pets can be soothing and grounding, however dogs and cats are can have a negative impact on pregnancy – so do take some precautions. Expectant moms need to have someone else clean the litter box to avoid toxoplasmosis (a parasitic disease). And while those big dogs love to give a lot of love, also be careful to not have them pull or knock you over.

Although intuition and common sense help guide expectant mothers, some limitations are not as obvious. By partnering with health care professionals and listening to their bodies, most women successful navigate pregnancy without complications.