Next month, my wife and I finally meet our baby girl. Excited doesn’t cover it. Anxieties about the birth aside, our obstetrician says our little one is very healthy. Of course we have been doing our best to ensure she will be. Over the past months, I have written about all the things we have done throughout the pregnancy to give our unborn child the best start. However, from the first moment we learned we would be parents, my wife has been following advice about what NOT TO DO during her pregnancy. Here’s what all expectant mums-to-be need to know:
Foods to ditch
Raw meat, egg and seafood, including shellfish and sushi, are to be avoided since they could be contaminated with toxoplasmosis or salmonella, which can damage the baby’s brain and eyes. Meanwhile, to prevent listeria infection, which during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, uterine infection and pre-term delivery, the mum-to-be should stay away from deli meat, smoked seafood and unpasteurised dairy products. Also, she should only eat fish with low levels of mercury, such as salmon. Fish with high levels, like swordfish, can be harmful during pregnancy and for nursing mothers, too.
Not too much caffeine
This may sound like a nightmare to all the working mothers who are addicted to coffee, but high levels of caffeine in pregnancy can cause low birth weight in babies and increase the risk of health problems later in life. Some experts say that too much could even cause miscarriage (but that’s very rare; please don’t panic!) If you really can’t give it up, try not to have more than 200mg – that’s two mugs of coffee or three cups of tea. If you want to give the stuff up completely, water or fruit juice may help ease cravings.
Absolutely no alcohol
In Cambodia, there is an old belief that drinking wine can help the mother-to-be “warm her veins” and help to reduce her pain while giving birth. It’s also believed to help speed up the recovery process. But not only are these ideas baseless; they’re also harmful. Alcohol passes quickly from a mother’s bloodstream through the placenta and umbilical cord to your baby, which can harm your developing child’s brain and organs. Other repercussions include foetal alcohol spectrum disorders, brain damage, birth defects, miscarriage, premature birth and stillbirth.
Don’t sit or stand for too long
Even if you’re not expecting, sitting or lying down for too long increases the risk of chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes and some cancers while research has shown that prolonged standing might increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Move around! Staying in one position too long can make a mum-to-be develop swollen ankles and vein problems.
A (cool) dip and sauna session
Aches and pains are common during pregnancy as an expectant woman’s body changes and she may be drawn to taking a bath or sauna to help ease them. However, an elevated body temperature during the first trimester can lead to certain birth defects, so make sure both the water and heat aren’t too high on the mercury chart.
Avoid certain medications
A number of medicines, such as aspirin, naproxen and ibuprofen, could have harmful side effects on the foetus and unborn baby and thus are not recommended. It is a must to speak to your doctor before taking any over-the-counter or prescription medications and supplements. In case you are wondering, a flu shot is not harmful for a pregnant mother.
Don’t breathe smoke; either first or secondhand
Smoking while pregnant causes serious harm to your unborn baby (and you). Miscarriage, premature delivery, low birth weight and even sudden infant death syndrome are very real possibilities, so please quit. And secondhand smoke is just as bad, so if you are sitting next to someone who lights up, politely ask them to stop, or if not, simply leave.