Safeguarding Your Health During Pregnancy

pregnant woman

The excitement of learning you are pregnant can often be followed by concerns on how to keep you and your baby safe. Nine months is a long journey, and there are risks that can impact your health and pregnancy. First-time mothers can be especially concerned on what they can and cannot do during their pregnancy. Here are some tips on what to avoid and what you can do to safeguard your health during pregnancy.

Restrict Excessive Exercise

While you want to keep moving and stay fit during pregnancy, you also should not overexert yourself. You do not want to overheat your body or injury yourself from falling, heavy lifting or bending. If you are active, talk to your OB/GYN on what activities you can continue, like yoga, hiking, jogging and other forms of exercise. Each woman is different and may need to take different precautions pertaining to exercise.

Alter Your Food Intake

There are some foods that should be avoided during pregnancy. Foods that you may normally eat can be risky for your baby as it grows. Some items to avoid include:

  • Unpasteurized milk and soft cheeses
  • Fish high in mercury (king mackerel, swordfish, marlin, yellowfin tuna, bigeye tune, sharks, orange roughy and others)
  • Under-cooked or raw proteins – this can include sushi, eggs, meats and fish

Your OB/GYN can provide a list of foods to avoid and discuss which foods you should add to your diet. You will want to eat a varied, balanced diet that is high in calcium, folic acid and other nutrients vital for you and your baby’s health.

Avoid Chemical Exposure

You likely know that you should avoid chemicals during pregnancy, including alcohol, nicotine, tobacco products and recreational drugs. Pregnancy is also not a good time to work with certain chemicals that could be dangerous for your baby. Inhaling fumes from paints, cleaners, pesticides and solvents may not make you sick normally, but it is not worth the risk to your unborn child. Avoid any unnecessary exposure to chemicals – ventilate well when cleaning indoors and wear gloves or masks when appropriate. Some chemicals can be absorbed through the skin, so it is important to protect yourself.

Medications and Radiation

While healthcare is important, there are some medications and procedures that should be avoided during pregnancy. Many medications are not recommended during pregnancy – check labels and talk to your OB/GYN about any medications, prescription or over-the-counter, that you take.

Radiation is also a concern during pregnancy. Whenever possible, x-rays and other radiation imaging should not be performed even if you only think you may be pregnant. This includes dental exams – you may want to wait until after your pregnancy to have major dental work performed.

Hot Tubs, Saunas and Baths

Excessive heat can be dangerous during pregnancy. High temperatures can be harmful to the baby and due to your condition, you may be more likely to have heat stroke or feel faint. Stay out of hot tubs and saunas to avoid overheating. While you can take a bath, keep the temperature moderate. You do not want your temperature to go above 102 degrees for more than 10 minutes.

Viruses and Illness

During pregnancy, any illness can be a risk for the mother and child. Viruses that cause high fevers can be risky. Avoiding contact with those with contagious illnesses is important for pregnant women. Make sure you are practicing physical distancing, hand washing and other protective acts to keep you and your baby safe. Talk to your OB/GYN about what vaccines can be taken during pregnancy to protect your health.

When you’re pregnant, staying healthy is a top priority. Make sure to see an OB/GYN as soon as you believe you may be pregnant to learn more about safeguarding your health to protect you and your baby.