What to Avoid During Pregnancy

By
Kyle Therese Cranston
- November 14, 2017

Things to Avoid During Pregnancy to Keep Both You and Your Baby Safe

What to Avoid During Pregnancy
gdinMika/iStock/GettyImages

When you’re pregnant, it might seem like your “can’t do” list is pretty extensive. And, truthfully, it kind of is. But, protecting your bundle of joy is definitely worth forgoing a few things here and there. Here are some of the many things you should avoid during either your entire pregnancy or just in certain trimesters to keep both you and your baby safe.

Foods

There are several different foods you should avoid throughout the duration of your pregnancy.

Raw or Processed Meat: Any kind of uncooked or undercooked meat poses a risk of being contaminated with salmonella. Processed meat, like deli meat and hot dogs, also may contain listeria. Listeria is a type of bacteria that causes food poisoning and is very dangerous for pregnant women and their unborn babies.

Unwashed Fruits and Vegetables: Unwashed fruits and vegetables may contain bacteria and parasites, including listeria, E. coli, salmonella and toxoplasma. All of these are dangerous to an unborn baby, especially toxoplasma, which can cause eye and brain damage. Be sure to wash all your fruits and veggies when pregnant.

Raw/Undercooked Eggs: Raw and even undercooked eggs and the foods that contain them, like mayonnaise, Caesar salad dressing and cookie dough, can be contaminated with salmonella.

Soft Cheeses: Soft cheeses that are imported from other countries, like feta, queso and gorgonzola, are usually unpasteurized, which means they can contain listeria.

Certain Types of Fish/Seafood: Pregnant women should stay away from fish with a high mercury content, like shark, swordfish and tuna, because they are associated with developmental delays and brain damage. Some doctors may say it's okay to have these types of fish in moderation, while others want you to avoid them completely. Check with your doctor before eating any of these.

Steer clear of smoked seafood that hasn’t been cooked, like lox, as it can be contaminated with listeria. Raw shellfish and sushi should also be avoided.

Beverages

Like certain foods, a few different kinds of beverages should be avoided or at least limited during all three trimesters of pregnancy.

Alcohol: Beer, wine and liquor should be avoided entirely. Alcohol of all types increase your risk of having a miscarriage or stillbirth. It can also lead to fetal alcohol syndrome.

Caffeinated Drinks: You don’t have to totally give up caffeine when pregnant; just be sure to limit your intake to 200 mg per day. Caffeine crosses the placenta, so too much can impact the baby.

Unpasteurized Juices and Milk: Like soft cheeses, unpasteurized juices and milk can possibly contain listeria.

Medications

There are several medications pregnant women should either avoid all together or double check with a doctor before taking during all three trimesters. Here are some of them:

  • Aspirin
  • Motrin/Advil/Ibuprofen
  • Albuterol
  • Certain depression and anxiety medications, especially lithium
  • Certain allergy medications, especially Allegra
  • Fluconazole
  • Thalidomide
  • Isotretinoin
  • Herbs and other homeopathic remedies  

This is not a comprehensive list. Definitely check with your doctor before taking any medications during pregnancy.

Household Chores

Women should not change cat litter or do any painting during any trimester. Both activities can be toxic.

Exercise and Recreational Activities

Unless you have a pregnancy-related health issue, like preeclampsia or placenta previa, exercising during pregnancy is typically encouraged. There are, however, certain exercises and recreational activities that doctors prefer you avoid. And, just to be on the safe side, you can always check in with your doctor if you’re unsure about a specific exercise or recreational activity.

Water and Snow Skiing: Skiing of any type isn’t recommended during any trimester because of the potential for hurting yourself. If you've already booked your ski weekend, do yourself a favor and hang out at the lodge with some tasty hot cocoa instead of hitting the slopes.

Scuba Diving: Scuba diving can be dangerous when you’re pregnant and may cause preterm birth and even birth defects due to the effects of decompression. It should be avoided entirely.

Contact Sports: Any activity that poses the possibility that you could get hit in the stomach is not something you should participate in while pregnant, no matter where you are in your pregnancy. This includes softball, football, basketball, volleyball and other rough-and-tumble sports.

High-Impact Aerobics: Exercise that consists of lots of jumping or bouncing is usually given the green light early on in your pregnancy. It’s in the second and third trimesters, when your belly has ballooned, that you should take your physical activity down a notch. This is only because your baby bump shifts your center of gravity, throwing off your coordination, making it harder to maintain balance and making you more prone to falls.

Exercises That Involve Lying Flat on Your Back: Crunches, sit-ups and any other exercises that put you on your back are usually okay in the first trimester. But, you should avoid these exercises once you’re in the second and third trimesters. Lying flat on your back for an extended period of time decreases the blood flow to the uterus, which can halt the delivery of nutrients to your placenta.

Everyday Life Avoidances

Women should also avoid all of the following while pregnant:

  • Sitting or standing for too long  
  • Secondhand smoke
  • Soaking in a hot tub
  • Wearing high heels or stilettos in the second or third trimesters

When in Doubt, Ask Your Doctor

If you ever have a question about what you should or shouldn’t do during your pregnancy, don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctors. They are great resources and are there to help you have a healthy and safe pregnancy.

About the Author

Kyle Therese Cranston is a freelance writer and editor. She is the co-editor of the award-winning book series "Mug of Woe" and the author of "All Girls Heart Tiffany" and the "Newcomer's Handbook For Moving to and Living in Boston." When she isn't writing, Kyle enjoys spending time with her husband and two little munchkins.