We know we need to take care of ourselves during pregnancy. We’re growing a new life inside us, and we’ll protect it at all costs. That’s why we make sure we eat well and exercise properly. But there are a few things you should avoid doing while pregnant, too.
1Skip painting the nursery
Decorating the nursery for your new addition is one of the most exciting parts of being pregnancy. Picking out colours and furnishings, getting everything ready – it’s a lot of fun. Be aware, though, that while it’s fine for you to pore over the paint charts and choose your favourite shade, you should leave the actual painting to someone else.
Although most modern products are pretty well-formulated, there is a small risk to your unborn baby through inhaling paint fumes. You should also avoid stripping old paint as this may be lead-based, which can cause poisoning.
Ideally, get someone else to do the work. Choose water-based rather than solvent-based paints if possible and make sure the room is well-ventilated. If you must paint, wait until at least the 14th week of pregnancy. Wear protective clothing – long sleeves, gloves, face mask – and wash your hands well afterwards.
2Drinking, smoking and drugs
This one may seem like a no-brainer. However, according to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), about 12-20% of women smoke while pregnant, leading to over 1,000 baby deaths each year. Smoking while pregnant can lead to complications such as premature delivery, low birth-weight, and infant death.
Alcohol is seen by some as a grey area. Many people believe the occasional glass of wine, for example, won’t cause any harm. Some medical professionals have endorsed this view, but it’s worth noting the APA says it’s not safe to consume any alcohol during pregnancy. And obviously, large amounts can cause severe harm to the developing foetus.
There’s no debate to had when it comes to recreational drugs – they’re potentially fatal not just to your baby, but to you. Some prescription and over-the-counter drugs should also be avoided during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor, obstetrician or pharmacist about what’s harmful, what isn’t, and any safe alternatives you can consider.
3Take care in the sun
Be sensible when it comes to getting your daily dose of Vitamin D. Your skin is more sensitive during pregnancy, so you need to be extra-careful about sitting out in the sunshine. You may find you’re less inclined to do so anyway, as your body temperature is naturally a little raised.
You’ll also get dehydrated more quickly, which is dangerous for both you and your baby. Even if the weather doesn’t feel that hot, make sure you drink plenty of water. Slap on a good quality, high-factor sunscreen and make sure you have some shade to retreat to.
4Review your exercise routine
While it’s important to exercise and stay fit during pregnancy, you need to be sensible about it. Generally, swimming and walking suit every woman – swimming can be especially enjoyable as it gives you a feeling of weightlessness which can be welcome as you get bigger!
Talk to your doctor or obstetrician before taking up any new activity. You should also avoid anything that involves jerky, jarring movements, jumping or bouncing, or sudden changes in direction. Sit-ups and abdominal exercises are also not recommended, especially after the first trimester.
5Get someone else to clean the kitty litter tray
Toxoplasmosis is a fairly common infection that can be transferred through cat faeces. Most people don’t show any symptoms; others might feel like they have mild flu. It’s not a big problem – except during pregnancy. With congenital toxoplasmosis, the infection can be passed on to your unborn baby and result in blindness or brain damage.
To minimise the risk, don’t clean your cat’s litter tray while pregnant. Dirty litter can be tracked around the house on your pet’s paws, so keep floors clean. And remember cats also like to use the garden as an outdoor toilet – so if you’re a keen gardener, always wear gloves and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
6Trade in your high heels
As your pregnancy progresses and you get bigger, your centre of gravity is thrown off-balance. If you’re a stiletto fan this is bad news – you’re more likely to trip and fall, injuring yourself and possibly harming your baby.
Let’s not forget those swollen feet and ankles, either! Now’s the time to swap high heels for comfort – for a while, at least.
7Steer clear of some foods
It can be hard to give up the foods you love, but it’s not worth the risk to your unborn child. Strike these off your diet sheet during pregnancy:
- Dishes containing raw eggs, which may contain salmonella. This includes unbaked cookie dough.
- Raw sushi and oysters – there’s a possibility of salmonella toxoplasmosis.
- Deli meat and salads sometimes contain listeria.
- Soft cheeses – unpasteurised dairy products could contain listeria.
- Raw meat or fish – there’s a danger of various illnesses that could cause fever, dehydration and intrauterine sepsis.
8Cleaning the kitchen
Ok, maybe using pregnancy as a reason to avoid household cleaning is a bit over the top – but you should take extra care. Many cleaning products contain harsh chemicals so you shouldn’t inhale them or risk ingesting them through your skin.
Make sure the area you’re cleaning is airy and well-ventilated, and wear gloves at all times. If you can, switch to milder, more natural formulations.
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