Concerned about what to avoid during pregnancy to aid in healthy development for your baby? Here’s 19 things to NOT do while pregnant.
As an expectant mother, one of my most significant concerns was about the things I should do and things NOT to do while pregnant to support my new baby's health.
I had a precious little angel due to grace this world with her amazing presence.
I desperately wanted my sweet angel, who did not ask to be here, in the most excellent physical health possible.
All ten fingers and toes - Check
Two eyeballs - Check
Strong heartbeat - Check
Strong lungs - Check
Filled with joy - Double-Check
And the list goes on...
There are times when certain circumstances in pregnancy are out of your control. Still, some things can be done or, in this case, NOT done to promote health within ourselves and our developing fetus so that we may give birth to a healthy, happy, thriving individual destined for greatness.
Things Not To Do While Pregnant To Support A Healthy Baby:
1. Do NOT Forego Prenatal Care
If you’ve taken a pregnancy test that has come up positive or even if you just suspect you may be pregnant, contact an Ob/GYN office right away.
The sooner you can start receiving prenatal care, the better.
Consistent prenatal visits will help ensure you and your baby are in good health.
These visits will allow you to target or prevent potential pregnancy complications and avoid future issues as your pregnancy progresses or comes time for your delivery.
Your doctor will check your baby’s heart rate and development and send you to get bloodwork and urine tests to monitor both mom and baby's health.
You can also address any nagging questions and concerns you may have about your pregnancy during your prenatal appointments.
2. Do NOT Ignore Warning Signs
The safety, health, and well-being of you and your baby are of the utmost importance.
If something doesn't feel right or causes you concern, do not hesitate to reach out about it.
If it doesn't feel right and you're concerned, contact your Ob/GYN.
Contact your doctor right away if you experience any alarming symptoms. For instance, some causes of concern may be pain of any kind, intense cramps, vaginal bleeding or leaking of fluid, dizziness or fainting, heart palpitations, or a decrease in the baby's movement.
Don't make any assumptions. If something seems out of the norm, seek professional help to ensure the well-being of you both.
3. Do NOT Perform Hazardous Chores
Avoid performing hazardous chores such as heavy lifting or handling soiled kitty litter. Handling dangerous tasks such as these while pregnant poses risks to the health of you and your unborn baby.
Heavy lifting while pregnant can result in an increased risk of premature labor or miscarriage. It also increases the likelihood of issues with joint and back pain.
Note - If lifting heavy objects while pregnant is unavoidable, here is a guide that provides heavy lifting recommendations during pregnancy.
You should not handle kitty litter and kitty poo while you are pregnant. There is a parasite in cat feces that causes toxoplasmosis infection, which can cause harm to your unborn baby. According to the CDC, blindness, mental disabilities, and eye and brain damage are potential hazards to your unborn baby.
There are other chores to avoid as well to help ensure your safety. Avoid anything that challenges your balance (for example, climbing a ladder or standing on a chair). Also, avoid inhaling fumes during deep cleaning to prevent exposure to potentially harsh chemicals.
If these types of tasks must be completed, it would be safest to have someone else do it for you.
4. Do NOT Take Medications That Your Doctor Hasn’t Approved
You should not take any medications that have not been prescribed or approved by your doctor as a safe option.
Some Ob/GYN offices will provide a list of approved over-the-counter medications that are safe during pregnancy.
If you find yourself considering taking something that isn’t on the list, call the Ob/GYN to confirm it’s safe. Some over-the-counter drugs include ingredients that could lead to loss of pregnancy, heart defects, or other birth defects.
If you’re in your first trimester (or not noticeably pregnant) and you’re seeing a doctor other than your Ob/GYN who is unaware that you are pregnant, make sure you inform them that you are pregnant so they can make the best recommendations of care for you.
5. Do NOT Overindulge in Sugar
According to a recent study, avoiding foods with large quantities of processed sugar can help improve your baby's brain function.
You can also reduce the likelihood of excess weight gain by skipping out on some of the cakes, cookies, ice cream, and soda.
6. Do NOT Consume Toxins
Toxins such as alcohol, cigarettes (secondhand smoke included), and illicit drugs pose a threat to the growing fetus's health and development. Consuming these can result in congenital disabilities, loss of the pregnancy, or chemical dependency issues for the baby.
Avoiding these toxins will provide a much safer and more tranquil environment for your fetus to thrive.
7. Do NOT Overconsume Fish
Fish (consumed in moderation) can provide many health benefits to you and your developing baby.
The FDA recommends pregnant women consume between 8-12 ounces of low mercury fish weekly. Twelve ounces is the maximum amount they recommend for you to consume in 1 week.
One serving size of fish is 4 ounces. So that means you’re safe to consume 2-3 servings per week of fish with lower mercury levels.
You can find a chart including a list of safe fish options and those to avoid here.
8. Do NOT Give in to Pica
Pica is an eating disorder experienced by pregnant women who have a compulsion to eat nonfood items. You should resist the urge to consume toxins such as chalk, clay, soap, and mothballs. It is a sign of some type of nutrient deficiency.
Inform your doctor about these desires if you have them so they can pinpoint what your body is lacking and provide you with the appropriate supplements.
9. Do NOT Skimp on Your Water Intake
Drinking adequate amounts of water while pregnant will assist your system in properly nourishing your fetus. It can also reduce and even possibly prevent a host of potential pregnancy-related ailments.
The typical recommendation suggests women should drink 8-10 8-oz cups of water daily. But according to The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, an adequate supply of fluids for a woman is about 11.5 cups.
Fortunately, if you're not a massive fan of water, there are other options. Your body doesn't have to just have water; it just needs fluids that contain water.
Water is your best option, but you can also meet your daily fluid intake needs by consuming other liquids composed mostly of water, such as milk, juice, and some herbal teas. Even a bit of caffeinated drinks such as coffee and soda can make a small contribution to consuming your daily fluids.
The presence of adequate water allows your body to deliver necessary nutrients and minerals to the fetus. It also helps stave off issues such as urinary tract infections, constipation, hemorrhoids, headaches, fatigue, swelling, and overheating.
Drinking the recommended amount of water will ensure your body has enough water to complete the necessary processes critical to your baby's proper development.
10. Do NOT Overconsume Caffeine
It is well within reason for a mom-to-be to consume caffeine but in a minimal capacity.
The March of Dimes recommends that pregnant women consume no more than 200 milligrams of coffee daily. This equates to about one 12-oz cup.
Overindulgence in caffeine has been correlated to reduced fetal growth leading to babies with low birth weights.
11. Do NOT Sacrifice Sleep
Pregnancy is a very special and yet very taxing time in a woman’s life. The hormonal changes a woman experiences during this time will cause her to feel much more tired than usual. Sleep will also become more and more complicated as you get further along and start to experience more discomfort.
Kathy Lee, a nursing professor at the University of California San Francisco, who has studied how pregnancy affects sleep, recommends pregnant women to try to sleep at least 7 hours each night.
With the rapid growth of a developing fetus during pregnancy, sleep is even more important because it regulates growth hormone levels. So while you’re attempting to boost your energy levels through much-needed rest and relaxation, you’re also promoting your unborn baby’s healthy growth.
During pregnancy, sleep deprivation is believed to result in more prolonged labor and a higher probability of undergoing a C-section.
12. Do NOT Forget Your Prenatal Vitamins
To ensure your developing child is provided with optimum vitamins and minerals, you mustn’t skip taking your daily prenatal vitamin. These vitamins and minerals will provide your baby with essential nutrients for healthy growth and development.
One of the first steps in your prenatal care will involve your healthcare provider prescribing a prenatal vitamin. Over-the-counter prenatal vitamins are available as well if you want to obtain them before your scheduled appointment.
Folic acid, calcium, iodine, and iron are essential and available in sufficient quantities within prenatal vitamins.
Folic acid will help prevent neural tube defects, which ultimately affect the spinal cord and brain.
Calcium will help prevent your loss of bone density. Loss of bone density can occur since the baby absorbs your calcium to aid in her own bone development.
Iodine will help prevent stunted growth, mental disabilities, and deafness.
Iron assists the blood’s ability to carry oxygen throughout your body and your baby’s.
13. Do NOT Skip Birthing Class
Educating yourself about best practices and preparation for labor and delivery will help you have a less complicated, smoother, more successful birthing experience.
Taking a birthing class will inform you about what events may occur before going into labor (such as losing your mucus plug).
It will inform you about signs and symptoms that will alert you that labor is near.
They will also explain proper laboring procedures (such as taking deep breaths in through your nose and out of your mouth and how to push when it comes time correctly).
Knowing this information will help you take appropriate actions when the time comes to meet your new bundle of joy.
14. Do NOT Gain Excessive Weight
Gaining an average amount of weight, which tends to be considered 25-35 pounds, is far more beneficial for your pregnancy health than allowing excessive pounds to pack on.
An overabundance of additional weight increases the likelihood that you’ll develop gestational diabetes or high blood pressure issues while pregnant. The possibility of undergoing a C-section becomes more likely as well.
Reduce your consumption of sugary drinks, sugary foods, salt, and solid fats (such as butter and shortening). Cutting back on these foods will help facilitate appropriate weight gain. Whenever possible, opt for fruits, veggies, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean protein sources.
15. Do NOT Dismiss the Power of a Well-Balanced Diet
Aside from providing adequate nutrition to both you and your unborn baby, a well-balanced diet can boost energy levels, improve sleep, increase endorphins (feel-good hormones), and improve both you and the baby's overall health.
A well-balanced diet will help you provide your baby with the right nutrients for optimal fetal growth and development.
Adequate nutrition for the fetus will promote the baby's ability to reach its growth potential and healthy birth weight.
16. Do NOT Engage in Contact Sports
Contact sports are potentially hazardous for a woman who isn’t pregnant, so if you’re an expectant mama, they’re just downright dangerous.
Steer clear of sports such as football and boxing. These sports could cause premature separation of the placenta from the uterine wall.
Separation of the placenta from the uterine wall can lead to pregnancy loss, preterm labor, or stillbirth.
17. Do NOT Get Overheated
It is wise to skip activities that will overexert your body and avoid extreme heat for the same reason.
Don’t perform strenuous activities or exercise.
Avoid tanning, hot tubs, and saunas.
Overheating your pregnant body in the first trimester can lead to neural tube defects (improper formation of the spine or brain) and miscarriage.
18. Do NOT Skip the Dental Floss
Make it a point to floss daily (and brush your teeth thoroughly) to reduce risks that poor dental hygiene can pose to the unborn baby.
According to the CDC, periodontal disease (which first starts as gingivitis and then progresses) has been associated with pregnancy outcomes such as low birth weight and preterm birth.
Mothers who have cavities or cavity-causing bacteria lingering in their mouths can transmit this bacteria to their child's mouth and inadvertently start their child on a path of poor oral hygiene.
Take good care of your oral hygiene and visit a dentist’s office for a dental cleaning and exam.
19. Do NOT Skip Your Flu Shot
Pregnant women experience the flu much more severely than their nonpregnant counterparts.
Getting a flu shot will significantly decrease your likelihood of getting the flu.
Even better yet, getting a flu shot during pregnancy can protect the baby from getting the flu for their first few months after birth.
And there you have it - 19 Things Women Who Have Experienced Extremely Healthy Pregnancies DON’T DO.
Being mindful of these behaviors and activities that you don't want to partake in or don’t want to skip will help you experience a healthy pregnancy.