10 Things To Avoid During Pregnancy

By:    Published: October 12, 2011

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Pregnancy is a wonderful time in a woman's life. The miracle of the life growing inside is a rite of passage and privilege unique to women, but that privilege comes with increased responsibility. Nearly everything that the mother does, eats or is exposed to affects the baby, so mothers must be extremely careful while trying to live a normal life as much as possible.

Some of the things listed here may in fact be safe during pregnancy, but doctors caution against them. The reason is that there is simply no information to indicate safety and doing research on a mother and her unborn child is unethical.

1. Smoking

It's a no brainer that smoking during pregnancy is unsafe for the baby, just as it is unsafe for the mother. The chemicals found in cigarettes are poisonous to both mother and child. Smoking during pregnancy can result in an ectopic pregnancy, placental abruption, placenta previa and still birth. A child born to a smoking mother can have a number of birth defects, low birth weight and premature birth.

2. Drinking Alcohol

There is no safe amount of alcohol to consume during pregnancy. Alcohol is a teratogen, which means it affects human growth and it can pass freely through the placenta so each time the mother has a drink, the baby does too. This can lead to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), which is an entire spectrum of birth defects.

3. Roller Coasters

Roller coasters and other amusement park rides that start and stop abruptly or jerk can cause something called a placental abruption. This occurs when the placenta separates from the uterine wall. It can be partial or complete separation. Depending upon how far along the pregnancy is, it can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or premature birth as the baby can't survive in the womb once the placenta detaches from the uterine wall.

4. Scuba Diving

Scuba diving can be a dangerous past time for the mother if not done properly, but it can be deadly to an unborn baby. The reason is that if a diver comes up too fast, bubbles can form in the blood which can be life threatening. In an unborn baby these bubbles can rob the baby of precious oxygen much quicker than in an adult and since the baby doesn't have functioning lungs, they can't filter out these bubbles. Even if a diver de-compresses properly, there is no way of knowing if the baby has.

5. Kitty Litter

The hazard comes from cleaning the kitty litter box, or from gardening in soil that may have cat feces in it. Cat feces can transmit a parasite called toxoplasmosis. The condition doesn't normally manifest symptoms in the mother, but can be fatal to the baby. Pregnant women should avoid cleaning the kitty box or gardening without gloves and a mask. Toxoplasmosis is also found in undercooked or uncooked meat.

6. Sushi

Sushi is a problem during pregnancy for a couple of reasons. First, sushi contains fish which can be high in mercury, such as tuna. High levels of mercury can lead to problems with brain development and some believe that high levels of mercury can lead to autism spectrum disorders. The second problem with sushi is bacteria. Most bacteria and parasites are killed when food reaches the proper cooking temperature, making it safe to eat. Since sushi is either raw, or lightly steamed, bacteria like salmonella, parasites like toxoplasmosis and others can remain in the food which can be harmful, or even fatal, to a baby.

7. Chemicals

People are exposed to a variety of chemicals on a daily basis, from hair care products to household cleaning products. Some of these chemicals can be hazardous to the development of an unborn baby, making it the perfect excuse to have the daddy-to-be do the house cleaning and gardening. If that isn't possible, then it's a good idea to wear gloves and a mask when cleaning and gardening, always use the products in a well ventilated area, and wash hands thoroughly when finished.

8. High Temperatures

Most people like a dip in the hot tub every now and then, but for a pregnant mother, that's a no-no. The reason is that the baby growing inside her doesn't have the ability to sweat to cool itself, and high heat will essentially turn the amniotic sac that the baby is in into a boil-in bag. High heat can lead to birth defects or miscarriage. Care should be used when exercising or bathing as well, because these can also raise internal temperature. If you have any of these warning signs, take measures to reduce temperature and contact a doctor immediately.

9. Herbal Medicines

Many people use herbal medicines for a variety of conditions, but in pregnancy this is not recommended. Some of these medicines, especially those that contain blue or black cohosh, can induce bleeding and labor. While many herbal preparations may indeed be safe, there is a great deal that is not known about the effects of herbal medicines on an unborn baby and doing any sort of study on the effects would be unethical. So it's best just to avoid them altogether, unless they are approved by a qualified doctor.

10. High Altitude

Higher altitudes have air that is less dense, meaning it contains less oxygen. This can lead to a dangerous oxygen shortage for an unborn baby. While it may be ok to visit high altitudes for a short period of time, lengthy stays can rob mother and child of oxygen, leading to feelings of dizziness, shortness of breath, and nausea just to name a few. The rule of thumb is that if mother is struggling, baby is too.

Pregnancy is a marvelous time, but does require some adjustment to lifestyle. But these adjustments are only temporary, and the results are so worth it.

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