A First-Time Mother’s Guide To Things You Can And Cannot Do When You’re Pregnant

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pregnant-woman-pregnant-belly-by-emifaulk.jpg We all know that you should not smoke, drink, or do drugs when you’re pregnant.

Beyond that, there are many myths and truths as to what you can and cannot do when you are pregnant.

For instance, my superstitious mother-in-law would not allow me to stand on a balcony to watch fireworks or go to a funeral during my pregnancy.  Still, both of these things were certainly fine to do.

Following are some of the most important, fact-based things that you SHOULD NOT do when pregnant, as well as some of the questionable things that you CAN, in fact, do while pregnant…


Do NOT Do When Pregnant:

Cleaning the cat box –  Cats can carry an organism called toxoplasmosis, which can be found in their feces. While the risk is small, it can cause serious damage such as miscarriage, stillbirth, neurological problems, and more.

Lifting or carrying heavy items – Why a pregnant woman would want to lift heavy things while pregnant is beyond me, as it’s good time to guilt others into doing it for you.  Yet, many pregnant women still do attempt to do things like this for themselves.  Doctors commonly recommend that a pregnant woman not carry or lift heavy anything heavier than a small child (maximum of about 35 lbs).  The reason is that lifting and carrying requires 2 hands and proper lifting posture — such as bending at the knees — and you should not be doing this while pregnant.

Sleeping on your back
– Sleeping positions during pregnancy can be complicated.  You should not sleep on your back because it can put pressure on a major vein which can cause discomfort and numbness.  Sleeping on your stomach can put pressure on the fetus.  The recommendation is that you sleep on your left side for maximum blood flow to the baby and to keep the weight of the baby off your liver.

Entering a sauna or hot tub – Saunas and hot tubs elevate your body temperature, which can ultimately cause spinal malformation for the baby.  At most, these activities should be limited to no more than 15 minutes at a time.

Tanning –  In order to avoid overheating, tanning should be limited to 15 minutes maximum. Any longer than that could harm the child due to overheating.


Okay To Do While Pregnant:

Flying – If you are having a normal healthy pregnancy, there is no reason to avoid traveling by airplane before your 36th week of pregnancy.  You should, however, be aware of airline restrictions which may prevent flying within 7 to 30 days before the baby’s due date.  You may also have to ask for a seatbelt extension.

Jogging – If you jogged before you were pregnant, you can continue to do so as long as your pregnancy is healthy.  You just need to pay extra attention to your body, wear proper shock-absorbing shoes, and do not allow yourself to get overheated.  If, however, you did not jog regularly before you became pregnant, then don’t start now; wait until after the baby is born.

Listening to loud music – Pregnant women like to rock out, too.  There is no danger in listening to loud music while you are pregnant, just choose your music wisely, as your child may develop a liking to it as well.  I went to a Billy Joel concert when I was pregnant with my son, and now he loves Billy Joel!

Having sex – Sex during pregnancy is A-OK.  It may take a bit of maneuvering as your belly grows, but unless you are having a problem pregnancy and the doctor says you should not have sex, then go for it.

Working out – Even if you were inactive before you became pregnant, it is okay to increase your activity level with exercise while you are pregnant — just get the permission of your doctor first.  Of course, you do not want to go from completely inactive to running or weightlifting, but you can begin walking and using light weights for your arms.


Foods To Avoid When Pregnant:

Diet soda – Artificial sweeteners can cause cancer.  Studies have shown that products with artificial sweeteners in them (like diet drink) can have harmful effects on the unborn child if consumed in excess.

Herbal tea – Excess herbal tea such as peppermints or raspberry can cause contractions if too much is consumed.  Teas to avoid completely are black and blue cohosh.  Other teas should mention on the box if you should not consume them while pregnant.

Lunch meat, hot dogs, and liver
– These items should all be cooked before consuming.  They contain listeriosis, which can cause miscarriage, illness, premature birth, and fetal death.  While people get these food-borne illnesses all the time with little notice, it is very dangerous to the unborn child.

Undercooked meat – Pork and beef can carry toxoplasmosis causing miscarriage, stillbirth, neurological problems, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and more.

Undercooked poultry and eggs – These items may contain salmonella, which can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration which can lead to preterm labor.

Unpasteurized cheeses – Cheeses such as Brie, feta, and goat cheeses, may carry listeriosis, which can cause miscarriage, illness, premature birth, and fetal death.