Inside: Unsure which foods and activities you need to avoid while pregnant? Don’t stress over everything…but stay on a healthy track with our recommended list of things just not safe for mom-to-be.
I remember feeling so lost the first few months of pregnancy with my first child. Confusion over what things were safe vs what things were not, filled my mind constantly. This uncertainty muddled my days…whether it was while grabbing a bite to eat with friends, applying make-up or shopping for household products.
The list of things to avoid while pregnant kept growing and growing the more I researched and took note of.
I often asked myself questions like:
What foods are bad for pregnant women?
What things are unsafe now that I am pregnant?
How can I avoid miscarriage or developmental issues?
Okay, I was a bit of a worrier to begin with, but being pregnant took it to a whole new level. I was growing a new life inside and whatever I did to care (or not care) for myself would also affect baby.
Safety Tips & Things You Can’t Risk Doing While Pregnant
Trust me you do NOT have to worry about everything under the sun…it’s just that being a little cautious during pregnancy is super important. This couldn’t be more true than during the first trimester — the most critical period of pregnancy in terms of development. So many major things (like organ formation and growth) are happening inside your womb during this time. It’s essential you take care of your overall health and nutrition to ensure your baby gets everything he or she needs for proper development.
Statistics indicate that most miscarriages occur within the first trimester (before week 13)! And according to Americanpregnancy.org miscarriage has a variety of causes including: hormonal problems, maternal age, improper implantation of the egg and even unhealthy lifestyle choices.
That’s why making changes to your every day lifestyle from nutrition, exercise and the activities you partake in, especially during the first trimester, can make a big difference!
So what kinds of things should you simply NOT risk during the next 9 months? Check out the top suggestions below — keeping in mind that each and every pregnancy is different and that this is what the industry recommends.
One of the biggest questions that everyone has when it comes to eating right during pregnancy, is what foods should you absolutely avoid? Because yes, there are some foods that have significant evidence-based research around them to indicate they are just not safe for baby with the potential to cause birth defects, development issues or miscarriage.
According to research, the top foods that you need to steer clear of throughout all three trimesters of pregnancy are:
- Raw Meats (beef, poultry, pork etc.)
- Undercooked or processed meats (deli meats, hot dogs)
- Unpasteurized milk and juices
- Soft cheeses (brie, feta, queso blanco)
- High-mercury fish (shark, big eye tuna); Raw Fish
Of this list, the obvious one that should be avoided at all costs, is alcohol which can lead to severe birth complications and issues including fetal alcohol syndrome.
It irks me a bit, when people say things like “an occasional glass of wine here and there is harmless…right?” Um, no. The vast majority of research and experts advise that NO amount of alcohol is deemed safe during pregnancy — because there is always a risk involved during development…and you never know what can go wrong in each pregnancy. Avoid it!
The other food recommendations listed, have been linked to illnesses that can detrimentally effect a fetus in a variety of ways. For example, raw and undercooked meats can cause salmonella or E.coli poisoning which is not only terrible for a mom-to-be to fight, but also hazardous to an unborn child going through critical developmental milestones.
Don’t risk it if you are unsure…just remember to limit these foods as much as possible.
Chemicals & Products That Can Be Dangerous for Mom-to-be
It seems there’s a lack of info out there when it comes to pregnancy and toxic chemicals in household products. While you might initially think: Duh! Stay away from anything toxic! It’s not always clear which chemicals found in daily household products are actually hazardous. That’s why it’s important to keep an open mind to stay informed.
This is especially true when cleaning the house, decorating, painting and simply using everyday products.
Cleaning while pregnant
Most cleaning products contain ingredients like alcohol, ammonia, parabens, formaldehyde, chlorine and glycol — chemicals that may be harmful to a developing baby at high levels. Sometimes you can get around these by using all-natural cleaners, but not everyone has time or the skill for the DIY route. Even the green brands can come at a (hefty) price.
If you can do this, great; Also consider your work space and ensure you are in a room with plenty of fresh air and ventilation so the toxic or powerful smells don’t overwhelm you. You can get some additional tips for cleaning without the toxins here.
Note: If you have a cat, avoid the kitty litter! This too is off-limits for moms-to-be due to toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that can be transmitted through cat poop. Eww! Have someone else handle the dirty work for the next few months, mama!
Paints and pregnancy
Similarly, when painting and decorating the baby’s nursery, make sure you aren’t stripping old paint or sanding — because solvent-based paints and old paintwork may contain lead, a very toxic chemical for pregnant women.
Re-painting, shouldn’t be as much of an issue since nowadays paints are safer — look for a brand like this when painting the nursery. And don’t even think about lifting heavy furniture — definitely enlist help so you don’t risk injury!
Pregnancy beauty: What about skin, hair and nail products safe for pregnancy?
Yes! This is another big topic — one that I passionately addressed in this pregnancy-safe beauty post as I learned real-time about which products I needed to avoid. Prior to being pregnant, I went through daily exposure to a variety of not-so pregnancy-friendly chemicals: regular acne-treatments, deodorants, teeth whitening and hair treatments, to name a few. I didn’t really think it was something I had to worry about…since my OB/GYN never mentioned it during my prenatal appointments. (That was the beginning of my ongoing pregnancy-research days!)
Try to limit the following skincare chemicals as much as possible to reduce birth complications:
- Salicylic acid
- Aluminum Zirconium
Note: Please talk to your specific doctor about additional chemicals to avoid, especially if you are currently taking medications.
Activities You Shouldn’t Risk Doing While Pregnant
Ever get that feeling that you need to limit activities a bit while pregnant? That maternal intuition has a way of keeping baby safe. Because even though you don’t need to make dramatic changes to your everyday lifestyle while pregnant, you do need to take extra precaution and make a few adjustments. Remember just because you did something prior to getting pregnant, doesn’t mean it’s something that you can safety do now.
Why do you have to limit some activities during pregnancy?
The best answer is that anything that can cause injury or harm to you can directly impact the outcome of your pregnancy and lead to miscarriage early on. That’s not a fear card, it’s just the truth.
Avoid activities that are high-intensity, involve heavy lifting or can cause you to slip and injury yourself. Things like:
- Hot yoga
- Saunas/Hot tubs
- Roller Coasters
- Ice Skating/Skiing
- Bumper cars
- Wearing stilettos/high heals
- Lifting/moving furniture
Think about it. A blow to the stomach area, a hard slip or fall and an overheating body can cause trauma — big problems when you are growing a new life inside you.
On the other hand, staying active during pregnancy is a good thing — doctor-approved prenatal yoga, walking, swimming, gentle stretches are all great ways to stay healthy and feel good during pregnancy. You just really find the balance of what feels right.
Remember to use your best judgement and always trust your gut when making decisions during pregnancy…it has a way of guiding you to keep your unborn baby safe. And when you still feel confused about what you shouldn’t eat or what you shouldn’t do, be sure to stay informed by checking in with your health practitioner and resources like ours, so that constant worries don’t cloud your journey. You’ll be able to more fully thrive and enjoy each trimester of your beautiful pregnancy.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and any other safety concerns you have about pregnancy! Leave a comment below.
Ana, a mom to three rambunctious little boys, has supported thousands of women throughout their pregnancy and motherhood journey since 2012 as a prenatal and postpartum educator at MommysBundle.com.