Did you test positive for pregnancy? Congratulations! The joy of entering motherhood is unexplainable! Now, it’s time for you to be extra cautious about your diet and lifestyle to prevent the risk of miscarriages or fetal abnormalities. To help you experience a happy and successful 9 months journey, we have put together a list of things to avoid in pregnancy.
Remember that they are not hard and fast rules that apply to everyone! Since a majority of women experience problems due to these factors, we have added them to the list.
Things to Avoid During Pregnancy: 15 Things You Need to Know
Here are 15 things to stay away from during pregnancy:
1. Raw, Uncooked Foods:
One of the most important things to avoid in early pregnancy is eating raw and uncooked foods. Raw food including pre-cut vegetables, seafood, undercooked meat etc. is susceptible to contamination. Microbes like Salmonella, Toxoplasmosis etc. can enter your bloodstream through the food and cause havoc in your body. These food-borne illness can cause fever, gastrointestinal problems etc. in the mother, leading to miscarriages and fetal abnormalities.
Here are a list of some foods to stay away from during pregnancy
- Raw meat
- Raw eggs
- Unpasteurized Dairy
- Undercooked or Raw Fish
- Raw Shellfish
- Raw Sprouts
- Raw Vegetables
- Unwashed food items
2. High Mercury Fish:
Along with avoiding raw fish during pregnancy, doctors also recommend stay awaying from seafood that contains high mercury levels. Fish like mackerel, shark, swordfish etc. contain mercury in large amounts that can accumulate in the bloodstream over time. While eating these fish may not pose an immediate threat to adults, the mercury deposits from them can damage the brain and nervous system of your fetus.
Here is a list of fish to avoid during pregnancy:
- King Mackerel
- Sword Fish
- Orange roughy
3. Caffeine Foods and Drinks:
If you have a habit of drinking large amounts of coffee or tea throughout the day, it’s time you stop it! Consuming large amounts of caffeine (more than 200mg per day) can severely impact the health of your unborn baby. Along with increasing the risk of miscarriages, caffeine can also cause low birth weight and physical abnormalities in the fetus. Even in mothers, caffeine can lead to sleeplessness, frequent urination, gastrointestinal problems, and irritability, all of which are undesirable factors during pregnancy.
List of high caffeine foods to avoid during pregnancy:
- Green Tea (More than 1 cup)
- Energy Drink
One of the most must-avoid things during pregnancy is alcohol. Not just in the early stages, but even until delivery! This is because alcohol can cause serious damage to fetal health and increase the chances of miscarriages. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can impair your fetus’s growth and lead to birth defects, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, and premature birth. So, if you planning to get pregnant, throw away those bottles of wine, vodka etc.
5. Certain OTC Medications:
Many women have the habit of popping in a pill for trivial issues like headache, body pains etc. This can cause more harm than good in the long run, particularly during pregnancy. Many Over-the-counter medications and supplements contain certain drugs that can cause irreversible damage to your fetal health. They can impair the unborn’s muscular and skeletal system, increasing the chances of ruptures and miscarriages.
Here is a list of drugs to avoid during pregnancy:
- Nasal decongestants
- Mood altering medicines like Chlordiazepoxide and diazepam
6. Household Chemicals:
Experts advise pregnant women to stay away from household chemical products like bathroom cleaners, paints, glues etc. which release toxic fumes. Exposure to these vapors can cause nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, fatigue, and in extreme cases, damage to blood cells. Out of these products, the commonly used naphthalene balls are considered to be most dangerous to pregnant women and newborn babies. It is recommended you take the help of someone to handle these products and ventilate the room well before using it.
7. Handling Cat Litter:
If you have a pet cat at home, then hand over the duty of cleaning its litter to your husband or some external help. Cat feces contain a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, which can cause serious harm to the unborn baby. If you contract this parasite at the early stages of pregnancy, chances of miscarriages go high. Also, this deadly microbe is known to cause blindness and brain damage to the fetus. In emergency situations, when you have no one around, use a glove and mask while handling the litter.
Many studies show that women who smoked during pregnancy had higher likelihood of miscarriages than those who did not. Cigarettes contain nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide, which impair your lungs and jeopardize the health of your fetus. Smoking also increases the chances of birth defects, low birth weight, ectopic pregnancy, placental abruption etc. Secondhand smokers are under equal threat as direct smokers.
NOTE: It is known that women who quit smoking a few months before getting pregnant have also experienced higher risks of miscarriages or developmental defects in fetus.
9. High Heel Shoes or Sandals:
High heels may be fashionable, but not advisable for pregnant women! Footwear with high heels, even wedges, can change the center of gravity and make you walk unsteadily. This can increase the risk of falls leading to injuries and even miscarriages. High heels can also strain your leg muscles and create a shock wave from your feet to the spinal cord. This can give you severe backaches and joint pains.
10. Lifting Heavy Weights:
Many doctors opine that lifting heavy weights during the first trimester of pregnancy can increase the chances of miscarriages. Weights, when not handled properly, can strain the muscles in your back and abdomen. This can cause herniated discs, premature birth, muscle pulls, low birth weight etc. If you have to lift an object, irrespective of its weight, bend your knees and keep your back straight to reach out to it.
11. Alternate Therapies:
Alternate treatments like acupuncture or massage are not recommended during early pregnancy. When not done in the right manner and at the right place, these therapies can pose more harm than good to you and your baby. Also, avoid getting an intense massage over the pressure points, abdomen and back areas throughout your pregnancy.
12. Hair Dyes and Chemical Treatments:
While most dyes available in the market are deemed “safe” for use during pregnancy, you must exercise caution while using them. Hair dyes, straightening and keratin treatments are loaded with chemicals which can get absorbed into your bloodstream. These can cause skin allergies, hives and even hormonal changes that can disrupt the normalcy of your pregnancy.
13. Hot Water Baths:
Hot water baths including saunas and Jacuzzis may help you relax for a while but certainly do no good for you during pregnancy. Exposing your body to high temperatures can increase the body’s heat internally. This makes the blood flow faster than the normal rate, which can be dangerous to the fetal health. So, hot water baths are one of the major things to avoid in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
X-Rays can be risky during pregnancy if they are not done in the right manner and at the right spot of the body. Lack of proper shielding precautions and exposure to higher radiation during the first few weeks of pregnancy can harm the unborn baby.
15. Unproven Home Remedies:
The most important thing you must totally avoid during pregnancy is listening to every piece of advice that comes your way! Especially if they involve taking in some herbal concoctions or unproven home remedies, just say “NO”! You will end up risking the life of your baby and even you if you pay heed to these old wive’s tales. Trust your doctor and take their advice for any small issue that you might face during pregnancy.
Above all, stay calm and relaxed! You will go through it like zillions of mothers who successfully crossed this phase. Just keep a checklist of these things to avoid in pregnancy and follow them to be on a safe side. Eat a healthy diet and indulge in an active lifestyle to enjoy this beautiful phase of your life.