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What to avoid when pregnant

August 17th, 2013

pregnant woman

Smoking when pregnant is bad for your baby. That is fairly well known. But what else does a pregnant mother need to avoid and why.

Well just to hit the message home lets start with smoking


Women who smoke during pregnancy have an increased risk of having a low birth weight baby. Babies less than 5 1/2 pounds at birth are 20 times  more at risk of dying in their first year than babies of normal birth weight. There is also a higher risk of developmental problems in the child. Smoking can also cause complications during pregnancy including miscarriage and placenta problems. So the message is simple. Do not smoke when pregnant. Unfortunately nicotine substitutes and anti smoking medications should also not be used during pregnancy so its going to have to be cold turkey.


If you think marijuana is a safe substitute to cigarettes you were wrong. Although there is less research on marijuana than cigarettes, studies suggest there is a similar risk of low birth weight. Heavy marijuana use can also increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage.


Most experts say avoid alcohol altogether but there has been some debate about this recently. However if you do decide to take the risk, keep it to one or two drinks per week. Binge drinking could seriously harm your baby.Remember, whatever goes into your bloodstream goes into the babys’ also.


A few cups of coffee per day are fine. However large amounts of caffeine can reduce the amount of iron absorbed which could harm your baby. Remember caffeine is also in cola, energy drinks, tea, hot chocolate and chocolate. (white chocolate is caffeine free though).


The risk from pets is generally low. The one risk that is worth noting is cat faeces. There is a rare infection called toxoplasmosis which is present in the faeces of a small amount of outdoor cats. You don’t need to evict kitty but avoid handling her litter tray if you can or use gloves and wash your hands immediately afterwards if you can’t.


Spraying that pesky wasp is fairly low risk but high levels of exposure to some insecticides has been linked to birth defects so use non chemical alternatives if you can. (Open the window and let the poor wasp live)

Saunas and Steam Rooms

Research suggests that taking the body temperature over 38.8 degrees celcius for more than 10 minutes during the first seven weeks of pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage and neural tube related defects.

Household Chemicals

Try to avoid highly toxic products that have strong fumes. Oven cleaner and paints containing lead or mercury should be avoided. If you can’t avoid them then make sure the area is well ventilated.

Foods to avoid

The foods listed below are perfectly healthy foods. However they do carry a small risk of some nasty bugs like salmonella and listeria. These bugs can be fairly serious normally, but when you are pregnant could also lead to miscarriage or a still birth. So the UK National Health Service advise avoiding the following.

Pâté, Liver, Raw or partially cooked eggs, Raw or undercooked meat, Liver (due to high vitamin A content), Raw shellfish,Sushi (ok if frozen first), Soft Cheeses (they contain more moisture which bacteria likes to grow in).

Peanuts are now ok

The one bit of advice that has changed recently is peanuts. Previously thought to increase the risk of peanut allergy the experts now conclude that there is no evidence of this. (However if you have peanut allergies in the family it would make sense to avoid it)

baby in arms

All these things to avoid may sound like pregnancy is a really dull time. However when you hold that healthy baby in your arms it is the best high in the world and all the sacrifices will have been worth it.


Article written by Crysta Burridge of Bunny Bumpkin. The one stop online shop for maternity,nursing and baby products.

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