Finding out you are pregnant is exciting, but often times it may be scary and intimidating. What are you supposed to do now? What changes do you need to make in your lifestyle? We’re here to help. While there are many things you can do to develop and nurture a healthy baby, here are three things you will need to stop doing immediately.
- Stop smoking and drinking alcohol
Drinking and smoking during pregnancy harms you and your baby, and can lead to serious risks including premature birth, brain damage, miscarriage, developmental issues, and other birth defects. This includes secondhand smoke! Do your best to avoid situations where secondhand smoke may be present. Read more from the CDC on the health effects of smoke and secondhand smoke during pregnancy.
Drinking alcohol while pregnant is just as dangerous. The most common condition caused from consuming alcohol while pregnant is called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. This condition causes irreversible brain damage and lifelong growth problems. If you are having problems with drinking, contact your physician for help immediately. More on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can be found here.
- Avoid certain foods
As hard as it may be, you will need to avoid certain foods when you become pregnant, as you are more susceptible to contract food-borne illnesses.
Certain seafood - Due to concerns with mercury content, tilefish, shark, swordfish, orange roughy, big-eye tuna, marlin, and king mackerel should not be eaten during pregnancy. However, soon-to-be moms can safely eat 2-3 servings per week (up to 12 ounces) of salmon, trout, anchovies, canned light tuna, and sardines.
Raw eggs – Soft-boiled or raw eggs should not be eaten during pregnancy due to concerns about the Salmonella bacteria. Salmonella causes dangerous symptoms for any person, but it is even more dangerous for expecting mothers. Symptoms include diarrhea, fever, nausea, and vomiting, with the possibility of dehydration if not properly treated.
Soft cheese – Another dangerous food-borne infection is called Listeria, and people with compromised immune systems are far more likely to fall ill with Listeria. In fact, the CDC states that pregnant women are about 10 times more likely to get it than the general population and pregnant Hispanic women are 24 times more likely. Decrease your risk by avoiding soft cheeses such as queso blanco and queso fresco, and only consume cheese made with pasteurized milk. Read more from the CDC here.
Raw meat & deli meats – Uncooked meats, including seafood, are likely to contain coliform bacteria, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella, and should be avoided during pregnancy. Deli meats should also be avoided due to the risk of listeria contamination. Learn more about these risks here.
- Manage your stress
While some stress during your pregnancy is unavoidable, leaving constant stress unmanaged can end up have negative effects on you and your baby. Possible effects of unhealthy stress may include a lower birth weight and early delivery. Take steps to manage your stress by exercising regularly, practicing yoga or meditation, and getting enough sleep. If your stress continues to affect you, make an appointment with your physician or a mental health specialist.
There are lots of things to keep in mind when you become pregnant. If you start to feel overwhelmed or you’re not sure what is safe to consume, always check with your physician.
You might also enjoy reading:
- Eating for Two: 3 Healthy Recipes to feed you and your Growing Baby
- 5 Fun Activities to do Before your Baby Arrives
- Prenatal Massage Therapy: Is it Right for you?