The Best Pregnancy Advice You’re Not Taking

Published on 05/14/21

We always hear about what pregnancy should look like and the practices and pregnancy advice we should be considering. What about the lifestyle habits we should be cautious about? What foods and products should we avoid? From beauty products to house plants to foods, let us learn more about what’s safe for you and your baby.

Before you decide to freshen up your cat’s litter box, or order food from your favorite restaurant, you may want to stop and reconsider some things. We know about the staple household rules – avoid raw meat, alcohol, caffeine, etc. But there are more widely used items and foods we eat that are also considered off-limits. Keeping these in good practice can help prevent serious infections and help us make lower-risk choices.

Pregnancy advice you should consider:

Cleaning Products

This might be a bit of a given. Make sure to check the labels for safety warnings specifically for pregnant women. For example, some toilet deodorant cakes can contain a substance called naphthalene. Exposure to this chemical in large amounts can damage blood cells that lead to a condition called hemolytic anemia. Symptoms that may occur with naphthalene could be nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea and fatigue. Newborn babies are particularly at risk with exposure. 

Make sure to follow the safety directions on the label and keep the rooms well ventilated when cleaning. 

Cat Litter

A parasite called Toxoplasma gondii can be found in cat soil or feces, most likely found in cat litter contaminated with infected cat feces. This is a common infection that occurs in most mammals including humans but can cause serious problems in pregnancy. 

Infection of toxoplasmosis during the early stages of pregnancy can increase the risk of miscarriage and cause brain damage and blindness in an unborn child. The good news is, the risk of getting toxoplasmosis while pregnant is very low. 

Signs of an infection can mean mild flu-like symptoms like a sore throat, high temperature, and aching muscles or maybe not symptoms at all. It’s not common for pregnant women to be screened for this infection so to know how to prevent it is important.

Alcohol

Seems obvious but seems to still be a question. There’s no level of alcohol considered safe whether you are planning a pregnancy, during pregnancy or breastfeeding. The safest option is to avoid alcohol altogether to avoid risks to your unborn baby.

Fake Tans

Studies show there are no known dangers of using fake tans, it’s advisable to not use fake tans during pregnancy. Hormone levels can change and make the skin more sensitive than normal. The active ingredient in fake tan is called dihydroxyacetone, or DHA, for short, is a non-toxic substance that reacts with cells in the outermost layer of the skin. This is what helps produce a brown pigment called melanoidin. This ingredient isn’t absorbed in the body but can cause you to have an unusual reaction. If you do, make sure to test a patch of skin first. 

This is why it is advised to stay out of the sun as much as possible. 

When it comes to tanning injections or tanning pills, this is a no-brainer. Tanning pills contain high amounts of beta carotene and/or canthaxanthin. Chemicals that have been linked to dangerous side effects including damage to the liver and eyes. 

Dying Your Hair

Some studies have shown that high doses of chemicals in hair dyes may cause some issues. However, you’d need a large amount of hair dyes to be at high risk. Although most research is limited, many women wait to dye their hair after the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. This ensures the chemical substances that could risk harming the baby are lower. If you’re coloring your hair yourself, you can reduce the risk further by making sure that you:

  • wear gloves
  • leave the dye on for the minimum time
  • work in a well-ventilated room

Using semi-permanent pure henna dyes, and vegetable dyes are a safe alternative to harsh chemicals.

Also being pregnant may alter the condition of your hair. Your hair may react differently to perming or coloring. It could become frizzy, less absorbent or entirely unrecognizable. 

Doing a test strand first can help you understand how your hair will react and help your hairdresser give you the best advice.

Jacuzzi or Sauna

When you become pregnant, you may feel warmer overall – due to hormonal changes and an increase in blood supply. Because of this, women may find themselves overheating fast or feeling faint. This is why it’s recommended to avoid saunas and Jacuzzis for risk of dehydration, overheating, and fainting.

When using anything like a hot tub, jacuzzi, steam room, sauna or steam bath, your body cannot effectively sweat to lose heat. This will make your core temperature rise and can affect your unborn baby’s development. Mostly in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. 

Massages

Even though therapies such as acupuncture are mostly considered safe, there are times during pregnancy where it should be avoided. Notably in the first 3 months of pregnancy. As well as acupuncture. It is generally safe to have acupuncture when you’re pregnant. However, it’s imperative you find an acupuncturist who has expertise and training with pregnant women. Certain acupuncture points cannot be used safely during pregnancy.

If you’re considering a therapy, talk to your healthcare provider and consult them about it first. 

X-Rays

X-rays should be assessed by your healthcare professional so they can weigh out the benefits and low risk of having an x-ray. Or, if they may consider using another imaging method like an ultrasound scan. 

X-ray radiation is related to the stage of pregnancy at which exposure occurs and the amount of exposure the baby would be receiving. With radiation, there’s always a slight risk for developmental issues or defects. 

Repeated exposure to radiation can go as far as damage the body’s cells. This can increase the risk of developing cancer. Radiation exposure during pregnancy should be kept as low as possible. To avoid exposing the unborn baby to radiation and possibly cause cancer to develop during their childhood.

Avoiding Certain Foods and Drinks!

It’s not just stuff, chemicals, animals, radiation, or tanning that needs some avoidance. It’s also what we consume. Drinks, foods, or otherwise! Pregnancy advice on food:

Stay Away From These Foods and Drinks

Undercooked foods:

Meat and Fish – undercooked meats and fish can carry pathogens that normally get destroyed in the cooking process. This means avoiding our beloved sushi, raw shellfish, and ceviche.

Eggs – this means skipping tiramisu, raw better, eggs benedict, Caesar salad dressing, and anything else that might contain undercooked eggs.

Sprouts – raw sprouts like radishes, alfalfa or clover sprouts may contain E. Coli or salmonella.

Unpasteurized foods and drinks:

Milk and Dairy products – this means cheese like feta and brie. This can cause maternal and fetal infections

Juice and Cider – even fresh-squeezed juices can cause foodborne illnesses

Fish and Seafood – certain fish like tilefish and swordfish carry too much mercury to be considered safe to eat during pregnancy

Chicken, Ham, or Seafood Salads – food that is stored and refrigerated pates or meat spread can contain listeria.

Lunch Meats – If not properly stored these can also carry listeria and other pathogens

If you’re looking for a food safety guideline this federal food safety website is a handy tool to reference.

Additional Tips To Take Note:

  • Stay away from calorically dense non-nutritional foods. These empty calories can lead to fluctuating blood sugar levels, and excess weight gain
  • Add fresh veggies to your meals
  • If you have a sugar craving, incorporate fruits
  • Don’t try intermittent fasting. This can lead to nausea and low blood sugar , dizziness and fainting, especially in the early months of pregnancy. 
  • Drink milk and fruit juices in moderation. Too much can mean excess calories
  • Avoid “diets”. Fad diets like the Keto diet aren’t good for pregnancy. In pregnancy, eliminating certain food groups don’t support optimal health and development for mom and the baby. A well-balanced diet is necessary for growth. Dieting with Keto and Atkins becomes dangerous. Eliminating carbs specifically puts the baby at risk because the primary fuel for the fetus is glucose. Ketosis causes the only energy source available to the baby to be ketones which has been known to lead to slow mental capabilities. 
  • Say no to carbonated beverages or sodas, which have no nutritional benefit. 

The best pregnancy advice anyone can give you is… exercise. This is strongly recommended pregnancy advice. Check with your midwife or doctor first to make sure there are no health problems that prevent you from exercising. 

Labor is like a marathon. And like most marathons, you wouldn’t do it without training for it. Physical conditioning for labor helps build cardiovascular strength and endurance. This helps shorten the length of labor and lowers the risk of other conditions like gestational diabetes and hypertension. 

However, avoid certain exercise activities that put you at risk for injury. If you are cleared for exercise, try to work in 30 minutes of moderate exercise like swimming, or walking the majority of the week.

Regular exercise can:

  • help you stay at a healthy weight
  • help you relax
  • help make you stronger and fitter — good for coping with pregnancy, labor and being a parent
  • help decrease discomforts like back pain and varicose veins that affect some pregnant women

If You Need Additional Pregnancy Advice, Call Rosh MFM in NYC

From questions about nutrition and weight gain, to concerns about whether your medications are safe or an unexpected cramp signals a problem, expecting moms have a lot of questions.

The team at Rosh Maternal & Fetal Medicine are prepared to give you answers and provide top-notch pregnancy advice so that you have a healthy pregnancy. If you’d like to schedule prenatal care or have questions about traveling while pregnant, call their office in the Midtown East area of New York City, or schedule an appointment online.