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Things you should avoid when pregnant

Congratulations, you’re pregnant! Health and safety are essential while growing your baby.

Pregnant women and their partners should be cautious of a few products and lifestyle habits prohibited in pregnancy. These things can cause miscarriage. 

From hair highlights to house paints, alcohol and drugs, learn more about what to avoid for your baby.

What does ‘miscarriage’ mean?

A miscarriage is when an embryo or a fetus dies before the 20th week of pregnancy, Planned Parenthood explains. Miscarriage mostly happens earlier in your pregnancy — 8 out of 10 miscarriages happen in the first three months, long before week 20. 

Around 10-20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. 

The medical term for having a miscarriage is “spontaneous abortion.”

Certain foods

According to Healthline and various other sources, food items make up most of the list of don’ts during pregnancy. Some of the primary foods to avoid include:

Raw meat and shellfish

Uncooked seafood, such as oysters, sushi, mussels and clams, are problematic for pregnant women. Rare or undercooked beef and poultry fall into the same category. These foods may contain toxoplasmosis or salmonella. 

To help prevent listeriosis, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that pregnant women steer clear of eating, especially sushi made with raw fish. The college also warns against eating other foods like hot dogs, lunch meats, and unpasteurized milk. Raw fish, in particular, can result in increased mercury exposure to your baby.

What is mercury?

Mercury is a metal. If you come in contact with high levels of mercury during pregnancy, it can damage many parts of your body and the fetuses body, including the lungs, kidneys and nervous system (including the brain, spinal cord and nerves).

Deli meat

Deli meat can be contaminated with listeria – a bacterium that can infect your developing baby while crossing the placenta. Listeria may lead to an infection in your uterus and result in blood poisoning. This is life-threatening to your baby.

Raw eggs

Foods that contain raw eggs include homemade Caesar dressings, Hollandaise sauces, mayonnaise and certain custards. Raw eggs pose a risk of salmonella. 

Soft cheeses and unpasteurized dairy

Imported soft cheese, such as Roquefort, feta, Gorgonzola, Camembert and Brie may cause listeria. Mexican cheeses are a delicacy, but a hard pass in pregnancy, too, as they are made from unpasteurized milk.

Wet paint

The toxicity of wet paint exposed to pregnant women is likely. The paint toxicity depends on the measure of exposed individual solvents and paint.

Household paint is assumed to have the lowest exposure level, but reducing your exposure to fumes, in general, is recommended. If you plan on painting anything, instead find someone else to do the job.


Caffeine is a stimulant and diuretic. The usual few cups of coffee as a pregnant woman will increase your blood pressure, heart rate and toilet visits. 

Your usual caffeine intake may feel customary to you, but it is not typical for the metabolism of your developing baby. It does not have to be entirely cancelled from your diet, but rather at moderate levels. 

Chocolate, sodas and certain over-the-counter medicines all contain caffeine. Always consult your doctor before using any medications in pregnancy.

Stiletto heels 

As your pregnancy goes along, you may miss dressing up and wearing your favourite pair of stiletto heels. Before making a harmful decision, consider a kitten heel, wedges or platforms. 

The growth of your belly will change your centre of gravity. You may feel unsteady on your feet, especially if you have swollen ankles. Flip flops can look classy too!

Hot tubs and saunas

Pregnancy comes with aches and pains. These qualms may make a hot tub or sauna seem ideal. However, an elevated body temperature, especially in your first trimester, can lead to congenital disabilities. A warm bath is a much better option.

Kitty litter

If you have a cat, change their kitty litter wearing gloves and wash your hands afterwards. Cat faeces may have a rare parasitic disease called toxoplasmosis. It is a good idea to have someone else change the cat litter when necessary. 

Secondhand smoke

Secondhand smoke is nearly as harmful as smoking when you are pregnant. It has roughly 4000 chemicals, and some of them have been linked to cancer. 

Secondhand smoke exposure can lead to a miscarriage, premature delivery, low birth weight, learning or behavioural issues as your baby grows and sudden infant death syndrome.


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

Other possible risks include premature birth, foetal alcohol spectrum disorders, brain damage, congenital disabilities, miscarriage and stillbirth.

Standing or sitting for too long.

When pregnant, you should avoid staying in the same position for too long, whether seated or standing. It can cause problems, such as swollen ankles. Short breaks taken frequently to move around are essential. You can also put your legs up to relax your feet. 

Trust your instincts 

All sorts of contradictory information can be found online, in books and in magazines. Do not panic and most importantly, trust your instincts. It is normal to feel cautious, and always consult your doctor. 


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