Knowing the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of pregnancy can feel quite overwhelming at times. With everybody in your life trying to give you conflicting advice left and right it’s easy to end up confused.
We have put together a list of what we think should be your top ‘don’ts’ while you are pregnant.
1. Drink alcohol
Drinking any kind of alcohol is a hugely vital thing to stop doing whilst you are pregnant. Although some people do say that some alcohol is alright during pregnancy, there is no solid research to suggest how much is safe. Your safest bet is to just completely avoid alcohol whilst you are pregnant.
When a pregnant person drinks alcohol, no matter what it is, it will cross the placenta to the fetus and potentially affect it. Because of this drinking when pregnant can cause fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). This can affect your baby once it is born in a number of ways:
- Developmental delays.
- Physical abnormalities.
- Reduced fine motor skills and reduced coordination.
- Behavioural difficulties.
- Intellectual disabilities.
- Poor growth.
Overall we would recommend not drinking at all as to completely avoid the possibility of this happening to you and your baby. Your friends will likely know that alcohol is not the best way to celebrate this particular life event but luckily for them, we can help with what might be better.
So, we all know that smoking is bad for us and that it is especially bad for pregnant people. Even second-hand smoke can cause a number of problems for your fetus. Second-hand smoke still contains up to 4000 chemicals and some of these are linked to cancer.
Second-hand smoke can cause a myriad of concerning problems which include:
- Your baby being born prematurely.
- Your baby being extremely light at birth.
- Your baby having behavioural and/or learning problems.
- Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR)
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Abruptio placentae (this is the early separation of the implanted placenta from the uterine wall causing a haemorrhage).
- Your baby having congenital abnormalities.
- Increased risk of getting blood clots.
If you are a pregnant person that is struggling to stop smoking, reach out to your doctor. There are so many resources and people to help you quit and keep you and your future baby safe.
3. Lift heavy things
Another great thing to avoid while you are pregnant is lifting heavy objects. This could cause problems such as:
- Low birth weight.
- Preterm labour
- Pulled muscles.
- Bleeding caused by abruptio placentae.
For these reasons, trying to lift anything heavy while you are pregnant is simply not worth it.
If you are unsure of asking for gifts for yourself or your baby when it comes ask for favours. Your friends may be wondering if they should get you a gift. Maybe they could instead give you a lift. Let your friends help you. NO HEAVY LIFTING!
4. Eat certain foods
Food is super important as a pregnant person and you should be doing your best to follow a balanced diet. After all, you are no longer just feeding yourself.
There are so many great foods that you can and should eat while you are pregnant. There are some however you definitely should not. Knowing what you should and shouldn’t eat is essential.
Cheese and dairy
- unpasteurised cows’ milk, goats’ milk, sheep’s milk or cream
- foods made from unpasteurised milk, like soft ripened goats’ cheese
- mould-ripened soft cheeses with a white coating on the outside like brie (neither pasteurised nor unpasteurised unless cooked until steaming hot).
- soft blue cheeses like Gorgonzola (neither pasteurised nor unpasteurised unless cooked until steaming hot)
The problem with eating this type of dairy that is soft-ripened or unpasteurised is that it could contain Listeria bacteria. Listeria bacteria can cause an infection known as Listeriosis.
Soft cheese that have that white coating around the outside contain more moisture, therefore, making it easier for the bacteria to grow and thrive there.
One way to mitigate this is to only eat cheese that has been cooked until it is steaming hot. This heat kills the bacteria and reduces the risk of listeriosis.
Listeriosis can be very serious, It can cause your newborn baby to be seriously unwell and it can also cause a miscarriage or a stillbirth.
This is why we recommend staying away from these certain types of dairy, just to keep you and your baby on the safe side of things.
- Raw or undercooked meat.
- Liver and/or liver products.
- Pâté, do not eat any type of pâté, including vegetarian pâté.
- Game meats like pheasant.
You should also be particularly careful with certain other meats unless you know for sure that they are cooked thoroughly. This includes cold-cured meats, such as salami, pepperoni, chorizo and prosciutto.
When you eat raw and undercooked meat you put yourself at a small risk of getting toxoplasmosis. In the case of you and your baby, this could cause a miscarriage.
Liver and liver products contain loads of vitamin A which can actually be bad for the development of the nervous system.
Game meats could contain lead shot which would be harmful.
Cured meats unfortunately are similar to uncooked and raw meats. They could cause toxoplasmosis.
- raw shellfish
What to limit
- You should not eat more than two tuna steaks a week (cooked weight at around 140g) or 4 cans of tuna (drained weight around 140g) a week.
- You should not eat more than two portions of oily fish in a week, like salmon or mackerel.
Note that tuna does not count as an oily fish. This means you can have both of these in the same week. 2 portions of oily fish AND 2 tuna steaks (or 4 tins of tuna).
You also need to be really careful with smoked fish, like smoked salmon. There is a listeria outbreak in smoked fish and pregnant people are at a higher risk of infection along with some others.
If you are going to eat smoked fish you should be making sure that it is thoroughly cooked.
- Raw or partially cooked hen eggs that are not produced under the Laid in Britain scheme or British Lion.
- Raw or partially cooked goose, quail or duck eggs.
Eggs that are produced under the Laid in Britain scheme or that are British Lion hen eggs are much less likely to contain salmonella.
Salmonella most likely will not harm your baby but it could cause you to get food poisoning.
Fruits and vegetables.
You should be very careful and make sure all fruits and vegetables are properly washed. If they have soil on them this could make you unwell.
5. Certain medications
Not all of the medications that you may normally take (including prescription medications) are safe to take when you are pregnant.
There are a number of different medications that could cause many different issues.
The best option is to check with a healthcare professional before taking anything unless you are already taking something. In this case, you should check with your doctor before coming off it.
Some medications that you should not take during pregnancy are; warfarin, ibuprofen, codeine, primaquine, chloramphenicol, ciprofloxacin, and levofloxacin.
6. Clean the litter box
If you have a cat with a litter box you will need to make sure that cleaning it out is a task you assign to somebody else. Dirty litter boxes are actually dangerous for pregnancies.
Parasites called Toxoplasma gondii can be found in infected cat faeces and can put you and your baby at risk of getting toxoplasmosis.
Toxoplasmosis can cause serious problems for you and your developing fetus, this includes:
- Eye damage (even blindness).
- Brain damage.
- Intellectual disabilities.
7. Consume too much caffeine
Many researchers believe that caffeine can negatively affect your developing fetus should it cross the placenta, which it likely will. It is very important that you do not drink too much.
A recommended caffeine intake for a pregnant person does not exceed 300 mg a day. It is believed that more than this could cause a low birth weight or even a miscarriage.
There does not appear to be a risk associated with low to moderate caffeine intake so this should be fine. If you struggle to know how much caffeine is in what then read this list below to help you navigate it.
- 100mg in a mug of instant coffee.
- 140mg in a mug of filter coffee.
- 75mg in a mug of tea.
- 40mg in a can of cola.
- 80mg in a 250ml can of energy drink.
- less than 25mg in a 50g bar of plain dark chocolate.
- less than 10mg in a 50g bar of plain milk chocolate.
8. Hot tubs, saunas, and overheating
Getting into a nice warm bath or even a hot tub might sound extremely tempting to help you relax while pregnant but it is recommended not to do this during your first trimester.
The problem with these types of overly warm activities is that they can cause you to have an abnormally high body temperature which can cause congenital abnormalities.
For this reason, we also recommend avoiding other activities such as:
- Sunbathing for an excessive amount of time.
- Hot yoga or hot pilates.
- Strenuous exercise.
Really any kind of exposure to extreme heat or long-term exposure to heat can be harmful and therefore is totally worth avoiding.
We hope we have helped you navigate some of the pregnancy ‘don’ts’ and hopefully you are less worried now. For the ‘do’s’ have a look at our article about ‘what do pregnant women need the most?’