What to avoid during pregnancy

Many women want to know what can and cannot be during pregnancy. If you don’t have to expose yourself to unknown risks, it is best to avoid them.

By giving you a better understanding of some common activities and substances to avoid, these tips will help you get a healthy pregnancy. If you have other concerns or questions, please consult your clinician.

Use seat belts
Although wearing seat belts during pregnancy may be fun, seat belts are still the number one way to prevent injury or death in a car accident and are essential to protect you and your baby. Make sure to wear the waist belt and shoulder strap at the same time, placing the waist belt part under the abdomen, touching the thighs-not through the abdomen.

Continue your routine dental care
You should not stop seeing the dentist for regular cleaning because you are pregnant. Dental care is an important part of your health.

Quit smoking and drinking

Smoking increases the risk of miscarriage, premature delivery, premature delivery (when the placenta is separated from the uterus) and infant death, including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS or “crib death”) after birth. Compared with non-smokers, smokers have smaller babies. These low birth weight babies are more prone to health problems than normal weight babies. Smoke from other family members or colleagues is also not good for health during pregnancy and after birth. Babies exposed to smoke are more susceptible to respiratory infections, such as colds and ear infections.

If you or your partner smokes, please quit smoking as soon as possible. Because smoking can be addictive, this can be difficult. Talk to your clinician about the “Quit Smoking” program and visit smokefree.gov for resources to help quit smoking.

Avoid marijuana

Studies have shown that smoking marijuana during pregnancy can also lead to low birth weight and health problems. Just as inhaling cigarette smoke is harmful to you and your baby, so is the smoke from inhaling marijuana.

Avoid drinking alcohol
Experts are not sure whether it is safe to drink alcohol during pregnancy. But they know that excessive drinking can cause birth defects, learning problems, and mental retardation. It is safest to stop drinking before trying to become pregnant. If you need help quitting smoking, please consult your clinician or contact an anonymous abstinence meeting.

Avoid illegal drugs

Drugs harm you and may cause your baby to be born very sick or addicted to drugs. Even occasional use of illegal substances can hurt. Talk to your clinician as soon as possible. He or she can suggest places to get help – like support groups, counseling, treatment centers and clinics, family service agencies – and make sure you get any extra medical care that you need, or contact Narcotics Anonymous.  

Be careful with medicine 
Talk with your clinician about any medicines you take (even those you take occasionally, like asthma medicine), and be sure to check with your doctor before taking new medicines or stopping medicines you usually take. Some medicines can harm your baby, whereas it is important to keep taking others for your health. This includes prescription drugs and any over-the-counter medicines you buy in a drug store or supermarket. If a medicine you use is not safe, your clinician often can suggest safer ones. Although it is important to take certain medicines, in general, avoid all medicines except acetaminophen (such as Tylenol, Patril, Paroldo), and prenatal vitamins (if prescribed) if possible.

Exercise and physical activity is reasonable and part of a healthy lifestyle. Moderate intensity aerobic and strength training for 30 minutes/day, 5-7 times week is encouraged. 

Avoid overheating in hot tubs, saunas and during extreme exercise 
Because the effects of a high body temperature are uncertain, you should avoid electric blankets, saunas, whirlpools, hot tubs, and steam rooms. You may use a hot water bottle to soothe tired or strained muscles or ligaments. Warm baths at home are also okay. Fevers raise your inner (core) body temperature. Studies link long-lasting fevers in the first trimester to a higher rate of miscarriage and open spine defects like spina bifida.

If you get a fever, drink plenty of fluids and take acetaminophen (Tylenol, Datril, Panadol) to lower your temperature. Lukewarm showers may also help. Call your clinician if your fever is 100°F or more, or lasts more than three days.

Limit caffeine
Most experts agree that moderation and common sense are the keys for consuming caffeinated beverages in pregnancy. We recommend that you don’t have more than 200-300 mg a day. That equals about two five-ounce cups of coffee. (The typical mug holds eight ounces or more.) It is also important that caffeinated beverages do not replace a pregnant woman’s daily intake of water.

Coffee, tea, colas (and some other soft drinks), chocolate, hot chocolate and cocoa all have caffeine. Tea has less caffeine than coffee. Herbal teas like peppermint or citrus can be a good substitute, though you should be careful about which teas you choose and how much you drink. Talk to your clinician about herbal teas—some may cause a reaction if you’re sensitive that that herb.

Click here to see the caffeine content of common foods and beverages.

Prevent infection
Stay up to date with recommended immunizations, such as the flu vaccine. Avoid contact with people who could be contagious and practice good hygiene, such as hand washing. 

Avoid travel to certain areas
Pregnant women or women planning to become pregnant are advised to avoid travels to areas with ongoing mosquito transmission of the Zika virus.

Is Hot Chocolate Safe to Drink During Pregnancy?