If you’re expecting your first baby, then you’ll quickly discover that there are plenty of books and articles out there about all the things you should do to prepare. Sometimes, however, it’s just as important to know what not to do. Here you’ll find a list of things you definitely want to avoid if you’ve got a baby on the way! Though it may seem obvious that you shouldn’t celebrate your pregnancy with a trip to the amusement park or a horseback ride, there are many other things you’ll also want to avoid while pregnant, from the well-known to the random.
Alcohol and cigarettes
Okay, so it may seem like common sense that you probably shouldn’t pepper your pregnancy with long nights at the local bar. But the importance of avoiding drinking alcohol and staying clear of cigarette smoke can’t be overemphasized. Just keep in mind that whatever you let into your body is also going into your baby’s. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can present serious dangers to a fetus and result in fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. These come with a list of symptoms that can affect your child long after they’re born, including things like physical abnormalities and developmental delays, intellectual or behavioral problems, poor coordination and/or fine motor skills, and even seizures. Seriously, in the long run, it’s just not worth it.
The same thing goes for cigarettes and even inhaling second-hand smoke. Cigarette smoke is incredibly toxic to a fetus and can put your baby at a higher risk for everything from miscarriage and premature birth to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. So if anyone dares light up in your presence, consider yourself completely justified in asking them to retreat immediately.
Certain foods from your diet
Among the most common surprises of first-time moms is the major diet changes that come along with pregnancy. Suddenly the foods you may have thought nothing of eating before present hidden dangers. Some of the biggest offenders include:
- Deli meat- Who would have thought a regular ham sandwich present such a threat? The horrible truth is that deli meat presents a higher danger of consuming listeria, a bacteria that can be poisonous to developing fetuses.
- Soft cheeses- The danger here also comes from listeria, which is common in many cheeses not made from pasteurized milk. Everything from queso to feta comes with the risk of listeria consumption, so be you do your research or talk to your doctor if you’re unwilling to give up cheese entirely.
- Uncooked or smoked seafood- Unfortunately sushi, clams, and even salmon are among the many kinds of seafood that can present hidden dangers while pregnant. They come with a higher risk of contamination from toxoplasmosis or salmonella, as well as hefty levels of mercury that your growing baby hasn’t yet developed the ability to handle.
- Raw eggs- Eggs too come with the risk of lurking salmonella and should be avoided both in their natural form and in foods they’re used to produce. Approach everything from Ceasar salad dressing to mayonnaise with caution.
Too much caffeine
Among the cruelest threats for pregnant women is the consumption of excessive caffeine. Any woman who has born children will relate to the lack of energy that comes along with being pregnant, but it’s important to avoid the temptation to give yourself a pep with too many trips to Starbucks. Caffeine will cross the placenta and too much of it can result in a lot more than a really peppy fetus. Consuming too much of it may increase the risk of miscarriage or low birth weight, so try to limit yourself to around 200 milligrams per day.
Cleaning out your cat’s litter box
Finally, something you can use to justify getting out an unpleasant task! Among the more random things that pregnant women should avoid is contact with cat feces. Though contact with your beloved kitty is fine, cat poop can carry a rare parasitic disease called toxoplasmosis. In reality, it’s more likely to be contracted from something like gardening, but better to be safe than sorry, especially since litter duty is nothing most people look forward too. If you live alone or are forced to take on the chore, you might consider either investing in a self-cleaning litter box or wearing gloves while you clean up after kitty.
While nothing may sound more tempting than soaking in a hot bath or jacuzzi, it’s unfortunately not a great idea while pregnant. Over-heating can come from obvious activities such as hot yoga or a trip to the sauna, as well as more subtle things like spending too much time in the sun or not drinking enough water. When you’re pregnant, your body already has a hard enough time attempting to regulate its temperature, so be sure to take it easy and avoid over-heating as much as possible. Getting too hot can give you nausea, painful cramps, a feeling of faintness, or even organ damage in extreme cases. It also increases the risk of miscarriage, so be sure to seek out the shade wherever you go.
Certain drugs and ingestible essential oils
When you’re expecting, even over the counter drugs should become suspect. Although they may normally be considered harmless, certain drugs can harm a developing baby. Some of them include:
- Some cold and flu medications (be sure to check with your doctor before taking anything)
- Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs
- Herbal remedies
- Certain acne medications
- Some essential oils, especially those ingested orally
The takeaway here is that it’s important to mention everything you take or even apply to your skin when talking to your doctor. Even natural medicine can contain potent ingredients that may be toxic to your baby. Think it sounds a little overbearing to make a list of everything in your medicine cabinet? Don’t! It’s actually a really smart idea that can make your pregnancy safer for you and your growing baby.