What You Should Avoid When You’re Expecting
Pregnancy changes your lifestyle, at least temporarily, and for good reason! What you’re exposed to while you’re pregnant can impact the development of the tiny being growing inside you. Let’s look at some of the things you should avoid when you’re pregnant.
What to Eat and What Not to Eat
As you might expect, diet matters. When you’re “eating for two,” nutrient-dense foods, like lean protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains provide nutrition without excess calories. In contrast, packaged and processed foods are high in salt, sugar, and contain questionable additives and preservatives. So, keep packaged foods to a minimum and read labels carefully for ones that you do buy. Avoid ones with a long list of ingredients, especially ones that you can’t pronounce.
Other foods to avoid include undercooked or processed meat and dairy (including eggs). Deli meats can be contaminated with Listeria and raw or undercooked meat may harbor bacteria that cause food poisoning. More sources of Listeria include: smoked meat and fish, soft cheeses, and unpasteurized meat. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, even uncooked vegetables can harbor listeria. Make sure that what you eat while you’re pregnant is cooked well. Avoid raw sprouts as well. They can be a source of harmful bacteria. If you consume dairy, make sure it’s pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria.
Deep water fish are a good source of omega-3s, healthy fats that support fetal brain development. Unfortunately, fish can be a source of heavy metals, like mercury, that are unsafe for a developing baby. According to Mayo Clinic, it’s safe to eat 2 to 3 servings of low-mercury fish each week. Make sure it’s well cooked and avoid large fish high on the food chain. These fish are more likely to have accumulated heavy metal and other toxins. Wild-caught salmon, sardines, herring, anchovies, and Atlantic or Pacific mackerel are good choices.
Smoking and Alcohol
It might seem obvious but smoking and alcohol aren’t healthy for a developing baby or for you. Consuming alcohol during pregnancy, is linked with growth retardation and damage to organs, particularly the brain of a developing baby. As the Mayo Clinic points out, there is no safe level of alcohol during pregnancy.
Smoking is a “no-no” too. Smoking during pregnancy is linked with preterm labor, placental problems, like placental abruption and placenta previa, as well as ectopic pregnancy, a condition where a fertilized egg implants somewhere other than the uterus. An ectopic pregnancy can be life-threatening, so use that as motivation to kick the smoking habit.
Don’t Miss Doctor Appointments
Prenatal care is essential for the well-being of your future baby and for your health as well. Always the prenatal vitamin your doctor prescribes during pregnancy. You need the folic acid to lower the risk of spina bifida. Consult your doctor before taking any medication, prescription, non-prescription, or supplement, while you’re pregnant. Avoid getting x-rays as well. Each scheduled visit with your obstetrician is important for checking your blood pressure, blood sugar, urine etc. to make sure you’re not developing pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.
Other Things to Avoid without Consulting Your Doctor First:
Herbs and herbal teas
Hot saunas and Bikram yoga
Exposure to x-rays
Exposure to pesticides – Consider buying organic
Cleaning cat litter boxes
The Bottom Line
Your doctor may have other recommendations on what to avoid, based on your medical history. Be sure to ask!
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Listeria”
Mayo Clinic. “Pregnancy and Fish: What’s Safe to Eat?”
March of Dimes. “Smoking During Pregnancy”
Mayo Clinic. “Pregnancy: Week by Week”