What to Avoid While Pregnant... Other Than Drugs and Alcohol
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I honestly thought at my first doctor’s appointment, someone would give me a big lecture about what I can and can not do... nope!
It’s not that they weren’t helpful or kind people, but they really don’t tell you things unless you ask.
Even if you feel like you know nothing about pregnancy, you probably know that you are supposed to avoid tobacco, hard drugs, and alcohol. If you're wondering what other things you should be wary of, you've come to the right place.
Below I'll discuss some of the products and foods you should be careful about while pregnant that perhaps you didn't know before.
Of course you can still have meat, but no raw meat. Order that cheeseburger medium well or well done. Also, avoid lunch meats/deli meats/cold cuts (whatever you call them in your hometown). They can contain harmful bacteria called listeria, so unless you heat the meat up to kill the bacteria, don't risk it. This also includes refrigerated smoked seafood, such as lox.
Some types of seafood are very high in mercury and thus are a risk to your baby.
On the do not eat list: shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tuna and tilefish.
Safe to eat cooked: salmon, sardines, anchovies, shrimp, pollock, tilapia, and cod.
Like with meat, you don't want to consume any seafood raw. That means, you can still go out for sushi, but opt for a California roll or shrimp tempura.
3. Unpasteurized Dairy
You need to watch out for soft cheeses, such as brie, feta, bleu cheese, gorgonzola, and camembert. This is because some soft cheeses are made with unpasteurized milk, which can contain that nasty bacteria listeria again! If you're buying any dairy from the grocery store, check that the label says "pasteurized."
4. Raw Eggs
Raw eggs are consumed more commonly than you may think! Aside from cookie dough, raw eggs can be found in some homemade dressings, icings, custards, mousse, and hollandaise sauce. The reason pregnant women need to avoid raw eggs is the chance that they contain salmonella, a dangerous bacteria. I'm sorry ladies, that means no drinking homemade eggnog this December—even if it's virgin!
5. Toxic Chemicals
House Paint: Eager to paint the nursery? I hear you, mama. But, this job is best left for someone else. You want to avoid any exposure to oil-based paint and paint thinners. If you planned on removing paint, this can be dangerous as well. Lead based paint was extremely common in houses built before the 1970s, and you need to minimize your exposure to lead. If you are getting any painting done during your pregnancy, make sure you steer clear of that room for a couple days while the paint settles.
Cleaning Products: Some household products have been brought under scrutiny for containing toxic chemicals (i.e. oven cleaners, mildew removers, window cleaners). There is no definitive research that states these products are harmful to your baby, but it's still something experts suggest you be wary of.
To caution on the side of safe, you can use natural cleaners, like baking soda and vinegar. Or, avoid inhaling these toxic chemicals by opening a window while you clean! Don't stay in the same place for too long, making sure to get some fresh air. Oh, and use gloves!
Pesticides: Be careful when treating weeds, insects, and rodents with toxic chemicals that are meant to kill these unwanted pests. Exposure to large amounts of pesticides have been linked to miscarriages and birth defects.
Don't fret. Coffee and/or tea is not totally off the table. You can safely consume 200 mg of caffeine a day while you're pregnant. In one 8 oz. cup of coffee, there is 95 mg of caffeine. In one 8 oz. cup of tea, it can range from 30-50 mg of caffeine depending on the type. In one shot of espresso, there is 64 mg of caffeine. In one 12 oz. can of Coke, there's 34 mg of caffeine.
If you are a fitness guru, make sure you check your pre-workout formula as well as other supplements; some pre-workout powders contain 300 mg of caffeine in just one serving!
Need to satisfy your sweet tooth? There's a ton of caffeine-free sodas on the market or go for a decaf latte instead. Click here for more information on how much caffeine is safe during pregnancy.
It's time to trade in the Ibuprofen for Tylenol.
Excedrin, Pepto Bismol, Dimetapp, Aleve, Advil, Advil Cold and Sinus, Ibuprofen, Sudafed, and Alka-Seltzer are all common over-the-counter medications that are NOT to be consumed during pregnancy!
The following OTC medications have been said to be safe: Tums, Tylenol, Metamucil, Mylanta, Witch Hazel, Preparation H, Benadryl, Loratadine, Robitussin, Colace, and Neosporin.
When it comes to medication, you should 100% of the time always ask your doctor first.
Don't forget to ask your doctor about medication you are already taking too, even if you don't really consider them "medicine." For example, your acne cream!
8. Kitty Litter
Cat owners, you are off the hook for kitty litter duty! Toxoplasmosis is a blood infection that is caused by parasites found in cat feces! Toxoplasma is detrimental to pregnant women as it can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, or damage to the baby’s brain.
9. Unwashed Fruits and Veggies
As someone who was basically the opposite of a germaphobe, I used to question how necessary it was to wash my fruits and veggies before eating them. And the answer: very necessary.
Once I became pregnant, things changed, and I had to start thinking about the baby.
There is a high risk of bacteria on fruits and vegetables from the soil they are harvested from. Among this bacteria, may includes toxoplasma, the nasty parasite mentioned earlier. Be sure to thoroughly wash fruits and veggies before preparing.
Hopefully you're not making any emergency trips to the ER during your pregnancy, but if you are, make sure you ALWAYS tell someone you are pregnant... even if they don't ask. This goes for the dentist, too. The reason x-rays are considered dangerous for pregnant women is because of the radiation. Exposure to radiation can result in stunted growth, deformities, and abnormal brain function.
Most women start to use lotion religiously during pregnancy to prevent or treat stretch marks. However, you should be careful because not all beauty products are created equal. Make sure your lotions are paraben free, as this chemical has been said to negatively disrupt fetal growth. To be safe, you can always purchase lotions that are made for prenatal use, such as this one.
Stay away from retinoids and retinols that are found in anti-aging creams.
You should also make sure your lotions, soaps, makeup, and perfumes are free of phthalates. Studies have shown that phthalates can cause problems later in a child's language development and motor skills.
What is pâté? It's a spreadable paste prepared with minced ground meat and liver. There are many different recipes for pâté (some are even vegetable-based or fish-based). No matter the recipe you are considering, pâté puts you at risk for the bacteria listeria, so steer clear from this appetizer.
13. Hot Tubs
Hot tubs and saunas are a no-no while pregnant. Research shows that an elevated body temperature can cause birth defects. Opt for a hot bath if you're looking for a way to relax and soothe your sore muscles.
14. Unpasteurized Juice
Fruit juice? Seems so healthy, right?
Unfortunately, the fruits and vegetables you are consuming may contain E. coli or salmonella rendering freshly squeezed juices potentially unsafe.
The good news, pasteurization kills these bacteria, and most juices sold in stores are pasteurized. When shopping, only purchase juices that are labeled "pasteurized."
It may seem like a lot to take in, but remember knowledge is power, so as long as you are aware of the hazards out there, you will make the right decisions.
My last two cents: be picky at your next potluck dinner and always read labels!
Wondering what you should be eating during pregnancy?
Check out our article: 15 Healthy Foods To Eat While Pregnant
- Samantha Colandrea