Pregnancy is an exciting time for many women. Watching your belly grow, feeling the baby move, making plans for the baby’s arrival, and talking to friends and family about your little one can all add to the fun and anticipation.
Although you should make an effort to relax and enjoy your pregnancy as much as possible, it’s also important to be aware of some things that could be harmful. Knowing what may pose a risk to you or your baby is an important step toward having a healthy pregnancy. The following are some of the most important things to steer clear of when you’re expecting:
- Cigarettes, street drugs, and alcohol. Perhaps these are obvious dangers, but it’s worth repeating. These substances have been shown to cause birth defects, developmental problems, preterm birth, and even miscarriage and stillbirth. If you or someone you know needs help quitting, talk with a physician. Smoking Cessation and Pregnancy has online resources for mothers who need help quitting smoking. Quitting alcohol and street drugs may require help from your physician.
- Prescription drugs and herbs without your obstetrician’s approval. Not all medications and herbs are unsafe — but you should talk with your physician about everything you’re taking. In many cases, prescription drugs can be safely taken under a physician’s guidance. Herbs, however, aren’t regulated by the FDA, so often times your physician will advise you to stop taking these during pregnancy.
- Strong-smelling cleaning products and chemicals. Any strong-smelling chemical or product can send a pregnant woman running to the bathroom if it’s used in a closed area. It may be your body’s way of helping you avoid unhealthy substances. Solvents, paint thinners, and degreasers should be avoided, but most household cleaning products are safe when you use them as directed. Use products in a well-ventilated area, wear gloves, and read labels for any warnings and usage instructions. If any product starts giving you a headache or making you feel sick, stop using it and leave the room.
- Heavy metals, including lead, mercury, and arsenic. Lead is often found in the paint of homes built before 1978. Mercury is found in large predatory fish, so eat only low-mercury fish during pregnancy. Arsenic can be found in some well water and in the soil, so the best way to avoid it is to get your well water tested and wear gloves whenever you work with soil.
Although it seems like many things can be harmful when you’re pregnant, you can easily avoid many of these dangers by being educated and informed about the risks. You’ll be glad you took the extra steps to play it safe, for your sake and your baby’s.
CarePoint Health Family Birth Centers
CarePoint Health is dedicated to providing you with the individual care and attention you need so you can relax and focus on what is most important — the birth of your new baby. To learn more about caring for yourself and your baby during pregnancy, view our list of upcoming classes.
Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.