Written by: Shani Fowler
Being pregnant comes with strings attached if we want to protect our own and our baby’s health. We need to avoid risks that may contribute to complicating or risking a pregnancy and keep as healthy as we can. We are often offered ‘good advice’ and ‘old wives tales’ but there are things that you need to do and not do when pregnant. Let’s have a little glimpse of what these are.
What you should do!
Ensure you have regular examinations with your doctor or midwife – don’t miss any scheduled appointments with the medical professionals. These are usually set for you and have purpose not only to determine that everything is at it should be with your baby but also with you. Also if you have any concerns of your own you should seek advice immediately. Discuss also any existing conditions or family history of conditions that may need addressing throughout your pregnancy.
Ensure you take your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of folic acid (current recommendation is 0.4mg). This can significantly reduce the risk of the condition spinal bifida in your baby.
Check your immunity to Rubella (German measles). If German measles is contracted during pregnancy it can lead to miscarriage or foetal deformities. The best route to this is ensuring you are vaccinated against Rubella before you become pregnant.
Protein and vitamins
Pregnancy demands you have plenty of vitamins to keep you and your baby healthy. There are special vitamin tablets formulated for women in pregnancy that will ensure you are getting everything you need. Eating adequate protein is essential for the development of the baby (especially brain development). The RDA of protein is 75 grams but sometimes as much as 100 grams can be recommended.
Eat well and exercise
Your diet should include plenty of vitamins, minerals and fibre (as it should normally) and also include fat and cholesterol even if you normally avoid it) as these aid thee absorption of vitamins A,D,E & K and helps provide more stretchy skin! It isn’t a licence to go mad by over-consuming but you need to ensure you are getting enough. Also ensure you exercise (sensibly) too to keep your weight in check.
Having plants around the house can help filter and remove the chemicals that exist in the modern household.
Try to keep positive and avoid negative thoughts or actions and stress to help prenatal bonding.
What you should NOT do!
It is known that exposure to smoke can result in miscarriage, low birth weights and infant deaths. If possible undergo a quitting programme before you get pregnant. Also stay clear of smokers as passive smoke can affect your unborn child.
Alcohol can have many negative effecting on the development of a baby, the worst being Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). FAS can lead to learning and physical disabilities and other abnormalities in a baby. FAS is often characterised by defects such as pre and postnatal growth deficiency, facial malformation, central nervous dysfunctions and possible major organ malfunctions.
Don’t take illegal drugs
In utero drug exposure can result in low birth weight, central nervous system problems as well as the possibility of delaying or impairing neurobehavioral development. Also malformations of facial features and cleft palates can occur. The only drugs you should ever take are ones prescribed by a doctor ensuring they know you are pregnant.
Avoid caffeine – it is thought caffeine increases the risk of diabetes in children.
Avoid contact with reptiles
The salmonella virus can be transferred to through faecal matter and can affect pregnancy.
Avoid certain fish
Methylmercury can affect the development of a child’s brain, so avoid fish which has high mercury levels such as swordfish, tuna, marlin and king mackerel.
Although risks with X-rays are considered to be small, unless necessary see if the X-ray can be postponed until after the pregnancy.
Don’t use a sauna, hot tub and avoid hot baths
These can raise body temperature and raising it above 102 degrees poses danger to the developing baby.
Avoid cleaning a cat litter tray or handling raw meat
Both these present the risk of toxoplasmosis which can cause birth defects.
Avoid contracting herpes
Herpes transferred in delivery can lead to severe complications.
This list isn’t exhaustive and some of them are more widely known than others. Some of these listed are debated as to whether or not they are harmful and its best to research or discuss with you GP to ascertain what they think. It would be wise to err on the side of caution where possible to give the best chance for mother and baby safety.