There aren’t many hard and fast rules about what not to do during your pregnancy, beyond abstaining from alcohol and drugs, of course. For the most part, you can continue with most of your prepregnancy life.

But because the health and safety of your growing baby is essential, here’s a list of 11 things to avoid while pregnant.

1. Certain foods

The biggest list of don’ts for pregnant women involves food.

During your pregnancy, you should avoid:

  • Raw meat and shellfish: Uncooked seafood (we’re looking at you, sushi), including oysters, mussels, and clams. Also avoid rare or undercooked beef and poultry. These can be contaminated with toxoplasmosis or salmonella.
  • Deli meat: Deli meats can be contaminated with listeria, bacteria that can cross the placenta and infect your developing baby. An infection in utero could lead to blood poisoning and could be life-threatening for your baby.
  • Fish with high levels of mercury: That includes fish such as shark, king mackerel, swordfish, and tilefish. Wondering about tuna? In general, canned, chunk light tuna has lower levels of mercury, but it’s still smart to eat it sparingly.
  • Smoked seafood: Avoid lox, kippered fish, jerky, or nova style salmon. There’s a risk that this refrigerated, smoked seafood could be contaminated with listeria. Smoked seafood that’s shelf-safe or canned, however, is probably fine.
  • Raw eggs: This includes foods that contain raw eggs, so be wary of homemade Caesar dressings, Hollandaise sauces, mayonnaise, and certain custards. Raw eggs can pose a risk of salmonella.
  • Soft cheeses: Some imported soft cheeses can have listeria, so steer clear of soft cheeses like Roquefort, feta, Gorgonzola, Camembert, and Brie. Mexican cheeses such as queso blanco and queso fresco should also be avoided, unless they’re made from pasteurized milk.
  • Unpasteurized dairy: These products could contain listeria.

It seems extensive, but there are still plenty of great nutrition choices during your pregnancy. While it’s always important to eat a balanced diet, pregnancy is an especially critical time. In your daily mail plan, try to incorporate:

  • lean proteins
  • healthy fats
  • lots of fresh vegetables and fruits
  • water

2. Wet paint

There’s no way to measure toxicity from actual exposure to paint, so this recommendation is based on the likelihood of toxicity.

Paint toxicity depends on the individual solvents and chemicals in the paint, as well as exposure. While it’s assumed that household painting has a low exposure level, the safest course of action is to seriously reduce your exposure to the fumes from these paints.

Even better? Find someone else to handle the painting.

3. Caffeine

It’s a stimulant and a diuretic, which means drinking your usual few cups of coffee every day will increase your blood pressure, heart rate, and the number of trips you make to the restroom. Plus, caffeine crosses the placenta.

While you may function just fine caffeinated, your growing baby doesn’t. That’s because your baby’s metabolism is still developing.

You don’t have to forgo caffeine entirely: Moderate levels of caffeine, defined as 150 to 300 milligrams (mg) a day, should be fine.

Just remember that caffeine isn’t just in tea and coffee. You’ll find it in chocolate, sodas, and even certain over-the-counter medicines.

4. Certain medications

Some medications can be harmful to your growing baby. Before taking any over-the- counter or prescription medications and supplements, speak to your doctor.

5. Stilettos

Stick to heels with a 3-inch heel or less: Think kitten heels, wedges, and platforms. As your belly grows, your center of gravity will change. So you may find yourself a little unsteady on your feet. Add to that swollen ankles, and you may find yourself living in your flip flops.

6. Hot tubs and saunas

If you’re feeling aches and pains during your pregnancy, relaxing in a hot tub may seem ideal. But an elevated body temperature during the first trimester can lead to certain birth defects.

Skip the hot tub, which usually maintains a water temperature around 104°F, and try a warm bath instead.

7. Kitty litter

If you must change kitty, wear gloves and wash your hands well afterward. Cat feces can carry toxoplasmosis, a rare parasitic disease.

While you’re more likely to contract it by eating raw meat or through gardening, it’s still a good idea to have someone else change the cat litter daily.

8. Secondhand smoke

Smoking is terrible for you and your baby, but secondhand smoke can be nearly as bad. There are roughly 4,000 chemicals in secondhand smoke, and some of them have been linked to cancer.

Exposure to secondhand smoke during your pregnancy can lead to:

  • miscarriage
  • premature delivery
  • low birth weight
  • learning or behavioral issues as your baby grows
  • sudden infant death syndrome

9. Alcohol

Avoid wine, beer, and liquor during your pregnancy. Alcohol passes quickly from your bloodstream through the placenta and umbilical cord to your baby, and this can harm your developing baby’s brain and organs.

Other potential risks include:

10. Sitting or standing for too long

During pregnancy, staying in same position for too long, seated or standing, can be problematic. It can cause all types of problems including swollen ankles and vein problems.

Try taking short breaks frequently to move around if you’ve been seated, or to put your legs up if you’ve been on your feet.

11. Believing everything you read

You can find all sorts of contradictory information online, in books, and in magazines. Be reasonable, trust your instincts, and remember that erring on the side of caution is never a bad idea. If in doubt, speak to your doctor.

The takeaway

Remember, you won’t be pregnant forever. Hang in there, as all of these off-limits foods and activities will soon be available to you again.

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