The first priority of any pregnant woman is to reduce the risk factors that can harm her and her baby. The only way to minimize the probability of the risk factors is to have a thorough knowledge of things that you should avoid during pregnancy. Although, it is not always possible to control and limit everything, still you can minimize the risks involved.
About 3-5% of all the babies are born with some sort of birth defect. However, these numbers can further increase if mothers don’t avoid the factors teratogenic (formation of abnormalities) to developing baby.
It is extremely important to have a fair knowledge and information of your dos and don’ts during pregnancy. It is a common practice that the mothers become conscious of every horror story. It is pretty natural to become worried about all the ‘what ifs’ during pregnancy. Mothers are very conscious to know how to deal with any of the problem or complication that arises during pregnancy. Certainly, the only possible way to remain healthy and keep the development of your baby on the right path is through minimizing the exposure to all risk factors and having enough knowledge and information is the only possible way.
Diet During Pregnancy
Your diet has an important role in your pregnancy. Opt for the diet that is rich in folic acid, particularly during the first trimester. Folic acid keeps your baby from neural tube defects like spina bifida. Normally, a good quality pre-natal vitamin supplement containing 0.5 mg (500 micrograms) of folic acid is recommended for daily usage. Folic acid is also found in natural supplements like green leafy vegetables, good quality cereals, fortified cereals, liver and grapefruits.
Listeria During Pregnancy
Not all the foods are advisable to pregnant women. There are certain foods that can harm pregnant women and their baby. These foods are often associated with Listeria as they can lead to contracting an infection with Listeria, eventually causing stillbirth and certain other complications. Listeria, in simple words, is a food-borne illness caused by a bacteria present in cheese, pates, cold ‘deli’ style meats, coleslaw and sushi. It is also found in the refrigerated foods that haven’t been stored properly, soft serve ice-cream, unpasteurized milk and products made from it and seafood.
Fish During Pregnancy
There are few fish types that are not recommended to pregnant women. The fish particularly with high levels of mercury are extremely harmful for pregnant women as high levels of mercury can cause damage to nervous system of their developing baby. The fish that should be avoided include: shark, marlin, southern blue fin tuna, orange roughy and swordfish.
Alcohol During Pregnancy
If you ask for a safe minimal amount of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, you might get a dissatisfactory answer. The placenta is not capable of filtering the alcohol consumed completely as a result of which some of the portion still infiltrate to the baby. The consumption of alcohol should be abstained during pregnancy is the only way to keep your developing baby safe from harmful effects of alcohol.
Medicines During Pregnancy
If you are on any medication and your healthcare provider is aware of your pregnancy, you are advised to continue with your medication because it can be risky to stop taking them all of a sudden. If you are still confused and worried, feel free to talk to your healthcare provider and discuss the matter with him/her. Following are given few points regarding medication during the pregnancy. Keep them in mind:
- Don’t go for any medication unless or until it is inevitable. It is advised not use any medication without the prescription of your healthcare provider.
- Apparently, a medication may seem useful and safe for being an adult, but it may not be considered safe for the baby developing in your uterus.
- Don’t take any medicine on your own even if it is an over-the-counter medication. Always talk to your healthcare provider particularly when you are pregnant.
- If taking a medication is inevitable, make certain that you take the prescribed dose on right time with right directions, i.e. empty stomach or after a meal.
Complementary Medicines During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, you need to be very careful in taking natural or herbal therapies as these can be dangerous for you and your baby. In case you are unsure about anything, feel free to consult your midwife or healthcare provider to make sure what is right and what is unsafe for you and your baby. Anything carrying a label ‘natural’ doesn’t prove its authenticity. Majority of the complementary medicines are sold without being tested properly and often offered without any proper scientific claim proving their quality. Be watchful and alert of such complementary medicines and talk to your healthcare provider before deciding to take any of them.
Caffeine During Pregnancy
Caffeine is another thing that should be avoided during pregnancy. However, 200 mg/day is often considered as the safe limit for the caffeine intake, especially for pregnant women. Generally, a single average cup of filtered coffee contains about 130 mgs; hence a couple of flat whites or cappuccinos would be more than enough. If you go for two cups of weak coffee or four cups of tea in a day, these are considered safe. Similarly, reduced the consumption of cola drinks (diet colas or unsweetened) to less than 1 liter per day and 1 can of energy drinks is enough.
Environmental toxins are the most underestimated threats to the pregnant woman and her baby. There are certain things that can bring harm to pregnant women and their babies, such as Lead, chemicals, X-rays and ionizing radiation, paint fumes, pesticides and cleaning agents. Always read the labels on all such products to have a better idea of precautionary warnings stated on them. Make sure that the room is well ventilated before using any such products.
Cigarettes During Pregnancy
Smoking should also be abstained during the pregnancy. Cigarettes are normally rich in nicotine and some other harmful chemicals. Normally, the babies born to mothers who smoke are relatively smaller and are more prone to dying of SIDs, born prematurely, developing asthma and certain other respiratory illnesses. Mothers who smoke usually don’t produce enough breast milk to feed their babies. Nicotine replacement therapies are strongly discouraged during pregnancy, so you have to find any other alternative options.
Illicit or Recreational Drugs During Pregnancy
Those mothers who are in the habit of using recreational drugs are more prone to miscarriage, placental abruption, stillbirth, premature birth, small birth weight. Majority of the public maternity hospitals has a specialty programs particularly designed for women with any sort of addiction and drug abuse. These programs have highly trained staffs that are always there to assist and support the mothers with addiction. If you want any such help and support look for any such program in your locality through newspapers or internet. You can also talk to your midwife or healthcare provider to have a suitable suggestion or advice.
Illnesses During Pregnancy
Obviously, there is no way to keep you away from illness completely during pregnancy or in general. Pregnancy doesn’t mean at all that you will not become ill or viruses and bacteria don’t attack you. In fact, pregnancy often weakens your immune system and left you more vulnerable to different diseases.
Although, it is not all possible to keep away from the illness during pregnancy, you can still minimize the risks of becoming ill by becoming more wary about washing hands, avoid inhaling near peoples who are coughing or sneezing. Don’t sit for a long time near sick people to avoid getting infections as most of the viruses are air-borne and spread through air.
As for pregnancy, two viral infections are extremely dangerous and can cause severe complexities and damages including rubella (commonly known as German measles) and Chickenpox. There are certain other viral infections that can cause complications during pregnancy, such as Cytomegalovirus, Parvovirus (B-19), Toxoplasmosis and some STDs (particularly, Herpes Virus and Syphilis).
Hot Baths, Mineral Spas, Saunas and Spas During Pregnancy
The foetus is pretty much associated with the mother’s core body temperature during early few months of pregnancy. Any change in mother’s body temperature can have effect on the baby’s development. Hence, you should avoid an environment that causes your body temperature to raise and stay high. 36.1-37.3 degree Celsius is the normal temperature range for human bodies. During pregnancy, women are suggested to avoid in the environment which tends to elevate the body temperature over 39 degrees Celsius.
Cats During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, avoid taking trip to the pound with your cats. Also, it is suggest keep away from your cat’s droppings. If your cat used a litter tray, better ask your partner or any other family member to empty the tray during your pregnancy. It should be done so because a parasitic disease called the Toxoplasmosis found in the infected cat’s feces from where it can easily transmitted to humans through hands.
Similarly, if you are required to dig in garden, wear gloves and wash your hands thoroughly with a good soap subsequently. You need to take that the fruits and vegetables you eat are properly washed before you eat them.
Threatening or violent relationships During Pregnancy
It is a matter of common experience that the domestic violence within the relationship is often assumed to be under-reported. Such incidents of violence are more frequent during pregnancy, particularly when baby hasn’t been planned, or parents are too young and unsupported, or certain other factors such as unemployment, homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse etc.
Wearing Seat-belt During Pregnancy
Wearing seat-belt during travel is a good way to keep oneself safe, particularly for pregnant women. Whenever you need to travel through car, bus, plane or any other vehicle, use an approved seat-belt to have a safe journey. You might find it uncomfortable and annoying, but in a course of an accident a well applied seat-belt will keep you and your baby safe.