8 Things to Avoid When You Are Pregnant

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Make sure to use common sense when making decisions for you and your baby. Follow important healthy pregnancy habits to keep you and your baby well. Eat right, get plenty of rest, and stay away from these things when you are pregnant. Ask your midwife or doctor if you have any questions or concerns.

ALCOHOL: Consuming alcohol while pregnant is one of the most common known causes of mental and physical birth defects.

OTC and PRESCRIPTION DRUGS: Common over-the-counter medications that are generally safe may not be safe during pregnancy because of their potential effects on the baby. Certain prescription medications may also cause damage to the developing fetus. Discuss your medications with your midwife or health care provider.

RECREATIONAL DRUGS: Pregnant women who use drugs may be placing their unborn babies at risk for premature birth, poor growth, birth defects, and behavioral and learning problems. Babies born to mothers using drugs may end up being addicted to these drugs.

SMOKING: Smoking can increase the risk of stillbirth, prematurity, low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), asthma, and other respiratory problems. Risks of secondhand smoke may include low birth weight and slowed growth in infants.

CAFFEINE: High caffeine use increases the risk of miscarriage and possibly other pregnancy complications.

FOODBORNE ILLNESSES: Some illnesses carried in bacteria in food can be life threatening to an unborn baby and may cause birth defects or miscarriage. These illnesses, such as listeriosis, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella, can be carried by bacteria in food.  The following foods should be avoided during pregnancy:

  • soft, unpasteurized cheeses such as feta, goat, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined cheeses, and Mexican queso fresco
  • unpasteurized milk, juices, and apple cider
  • raw eggs or foods containing raw eggs, including raw cookie dough, eggnog, homemade ice cream, and homemade Caesar dressing
  • raw or undercooked fish (sushi), shellfish, or meats
  • processed meats such as hot dogs and deli meats (these should be heated to steaming hot before eating)

CAT LITTER BOXES: Someone other than the pregnant woman should clean the litter box during pregnancy. A woman who becomes infected with toxoplasmosis may have no symptoms, but the infection can be passed to the baby. Risks to the baby may include prematurity, poor growth, and severe eye and brain damage.

HOUSEHOLD CHEMICALS and BUG SPRAYS: Because of the smell, some chemicals and sprays may make you nauseous, but they are not toxic. Other chemicals that you may have a higher exposure to may cause miscarriage, premature delivery, birth defects, and learning problems. Make sure to read all labels before using a product. Use bug sticky strips instead of bug sprays while you are pregnant or have small children in the home.