7 things all mothers should avoid during pregnancy
Article by Cherlynn Ng
So you are having a baby! While you do not need a complete upheaval of your life, you will be required to make some lifestyle changes to ensure a smooth delivery and a healthy newborn. There is no one-size-fits-all rule when it comes to pregnancy as everyone is built differently, but here are seven main things to look out for and avoid.
Don’t consume uncooked food
The very first thing to work on when you are pregnant is a healthy and balanced diet. Raw foods are a huge no-no as they might be contaminated with bacteria that can make you ill and be deadly for your baby. This applies to seafood, meat and even eggs. And while fish contains protein and essential omega-3 fatty acids that are good for your pregnant body, avoid
those that are high in mercury. Try to incorporate a variety of lean proteins and healthy fats as well as fresh fruits and vegetables into your meals. And remember: there is no safe level when it comes to alcohol, so cut it out completely.
Stay away from smoking and people who do
Just like alcohol, cigarette smoke is something that should be eliminated from a pregnant woman’s life. Besides an increased risk of heart disease and lung cancer, smoking while pregnant can also lead to miscarriages, premature birth, congenital abnormalities and sudden infant death syndrome. However, did you know that inhaling second-hand smoke is just as bad? Exposure to secondhand smoke, which contains around 4,000 chemicals, causes low birth weight as well as behavioural issues as your baby grows. Try persuading smokers in your household to quit and keep a distance from places where you know people will be smoking indoors.
Keep chemicals and fumes at arm’s length
It’s not just cigarette smoke that you have to avoid inhaling, but other toxic fumes too. This includes those from paint, pesticides and cleaning products. Check the labels of these items before using them to make sure that there are no safety warnings for pregnant women and always follow the safety
directions. You may also consider alternative cleaning products that contain low levels of chemicals e.g. baking soda and vinegar.
Remember to wash your hands regularly and keep the room well-ventilated when you are cleaning. Even better? Get someone else to do the cleaning.
Refrain from hot baths
It might be tempting to soak yourself in a hot tub to relieve your aching body or relax in the sauna after a long day, but this is highly inadvisable.
According to research, elevated body temperature during the first trimester can lead to certain birth defects in your baby. Exposure to extreme heat also increases the risk of dehydration and fainting, so avoid activities like sunbathing for too long and heated leisure facilities such as jacuzzis.
Don’t stay in one position for too long
Staying in a fixed position for prolonged periods of time during pregnancy can give rise to health issues such as back pains and swollen ankles, regardless of whether it’s sitting or standing. While this may be unavoidable if you have to work or are a homemaker with chores to do, make sure to take short breaks at regular intervals. Keep yourself active and hydrated. Invest in quality footwear with the right arch and heel support if you are often on your feet. Compression stockings can also help to improve blood circulation and prevent swollen legs.
No more heavy lifting
At the same time, be wary of over-exerting yourselves. It’s great to stay active and fit during pregnancy, but moderation is key. As your body undergoes various changes during pregnancy, you may find yourself being unable to do activities that you once had no problems with. For instance, stop lifting heavy objects because a growing belly means that your lower back is now much more vulnerable to strain. Pregnancy also causes your ligaments to loosen and your joints to become less stable, which makes you more prone to injuring yourself. If you really have to carry something, practice safe lifting habits such as bending from your knees and holding the load close to your body.
Don’t believe everything you read or hear
Having so many resources at our fingertips thanks to the Internet can be a double-edged sword because you are bound to come across contradictory information from time to time. The people around you will also be eager to offer you a plethora of tips and advice. But every woman experiences pregnancy differently and what works for someone might not work for you. While erring on the side of caution is never a bad idea, remember to trust your instincts. When in doubt, speak to your doctor.
By following these tips and removing negative influences from your life accordingly, you are now on your way to a healthy pregnancy!
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