Prevea Health

What should I avoid during pregnancy?


While most women have heard that there are certain foods that should be avoided or limited during pregnancy, there are likely additional precautions you may not be aware of. 

Read the list below and talk with your prenatal care provider about any additional steps to help you and your baby stay healthy throughout your pregnancy.

Foods to avoid 

  • Fish – Avoid shark, king mackerel, swordfish, tilefish, albacore tuna and tuna steaks while you're pregnant and nursing, as these may carry high concentrations of mercury, dioxins, PCBs, and pesticides which have been linked to miscarriage, preterm birth and physical and developmental delays in babies who were exposed to these chemicals in the womb.
  • Deli meat – It's not safe for pregnant women to eat deli meats such as ham, turkey, salami, and bologna or hot dogs unless the food has been thoroughly heated and is steaming hot. These foods may contain a type of bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes and ingesting them can cause a form of food poisoning called listeriosis. Heating deli meats until steaming hot will kill the bacteria if it is present.

Beauty treatments to avoid

  • Teeth whitening – The peroxide used in bleaching causes an oxidative process, which can be harmful to tissues and cells. Although there is currently no evidence that bleaching your teeth will pose a significant risk to you or your baby, there is simply not enough data to say it is safe, either. We recommend that women wait to use any over-the-counter or in-office teeth whitening until their baby is born and they are no longer breastfeeding.

Activities to avoid

  • Sleeping on your back – Sleeping on your back is safe through the first trimester. But as the uterus gets heavier in the second trimester, it is best to choose another position. When you lie on your back, your uterus presses on the vein that returns blood from your lower body to your heart. Lying on your back for an extended period of time could interfere with the flow of blood and nutrients to the placenta and your developing baby.
  • Hot tubs – Water over 105 degrees is damaging to developing cells and extreme temperatures can damage early embryos. A dip in the hot tub in the first trimester could cause malformations in the fetus or cause you to lose the baby. It is advised that hot tubs be avoided for the duration of a pregnancy.
  • Second hand smoke – It is advised for all people to avoid secondhand tobacco smoke as much as possible, but especially important for pregnant woman. Even if you are not the one smoking, some of the contaminants will get into your bloodstream and to your baby. The more you are around someone who is smoking, the more of these contaminants you can absorb.
  • Contact sports and balance sports – Avoid contact sports, as well as any activities that might throw you off-balance, such as horseback riding or biking. The increased levels of the hormone relaxin during pregnancy loosen all ligaments and joints, making you more susceptible to sprains and injury from falls.

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