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5 Surprising Things You Can’t Do While Pregnant (Plus What You Still CAN!)

 There’s often so much excitement when a woman first finds out she’s pregnant! Along with the congratulations often comes the warnings about what is and is not safe during pregnancy. Most mothers know to keep away from risky physical activities that can harm the stomach area and the growing baby. But there are also some surprising things that pregnant mothers should avoid. Here are 5 unexpected things you can’t do while pregnant:

  1. Eat a sandwich – That’s right, eating a sandwich is considered risky for pregnant women if the sandwich consists of cold deli meats and soft cheeses like brie and feta which are made with unpasteurized milk. These foods can be contaminated with Listeria, a dangerous bacteria that is potentially threatening to a pregnancy. Though the chances are small that the deli meat and soft cheese is contaminated, the potential risk to a pregnant woman and her baby is significant and can lead to miscarriage. Pregnant women’s immune systems are normally suppressed and causes them to be more susceptible to illness. However, if you can stomach it, heated deli meat is safer! Or perhaps just opt for a hot sandwich like a meatball sub for now. 
  1. Paint the Nursery – Decorating a nursery is always on the To-Do list before the baby arrives, but if preparing the new space also includes painting, an expectant mom may want to take a pass. Although the research into paint exposure during pregnancy is not conclusive, pregnant women are generally encouraged to limit their paint exposure. Most paint contain petroleum-based chemical solvents that can cause harm if inhaled. Heavy continued exposure to this possible hazard can lead to miscarriage, birth defects and learning problems. Although using good ventilation and staying away from the painted room while it’s drying should lower the risk, remember that wallpaper is also a good alternative! 
  1. Relax in a Hot Tub- You would think that pregnant women should be the ones who deserve to relax in a sauna or a hot tub after carrying around all that extra weight every day, but that’s not the case. Saunas, hot tubs, and hot baths are all risky for pregnant women. These can cause abnormally high body temperatures, which can pose great risks to both mom and baby. Even just 10 minutes in a hot bath can raise your body temperature to 101F. The increased body temperature can mimic the effect of a fever, which puts a baby’s fragile developing organs at risk. 
  1. Clean the kitty litter box – Pregnant women are advised not to change the kitty litter box if at all possible. Cat feces can cause toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that can be passed on to the baby. If a baby catches the virus during the early stages of pregnancy, it can lead to serious birth defects such as eye and brain damage.

Kitty litter should be changed once a day to keep the chance of the litter becoming infectious as low as possible. Experts also suggest that cats be kept indoors to avoid them coming in contact with the virus through the birds and rodents they often like to catch. Unless there is no one else in the home who can do that chore, pregnant women should wear gloves and wash their hands thoroughly after handling kitty litter.

  1. Sleep on Your Back– It’s already impossible to sleep on your stomach if you’re pregnant, but sleeping on your back is also discouraged. To avoid potential health risks, pregnant mothers are strongly advised to sleep on their side during the second and third trimesters, preferably their left side, to increase blood flow to the fetus. Sleeping on your back is risky for pregnant women because it puts the entire weight of the growing baby on your back, intestines, and the main vein that carries blood to the heart from your lower body. The pressure of this sleeping position can cause circulation and digestion issues for mom, as well as reduced blood flow and oxygen to the fetus. 

What can an uncomfortable mom do? Use a maternity body pillow or a wedge pillow for a more comfortable night’s sleep! The Motherhood Center boutique carries several kinds. Come in and explore our options! 

So, what CAN you still do while pregnant? 

  • Exercise– Although jumping on trampolines, skiing, sky-diving, and other high impact sports with a high risk of falling and injuring your belly is not recommended, certain exercises are still safe! Pregnant moms can still engage in activities like swimming, walking, indoor stationary cycling, step or elliptical machines, and low-impact aerobics. Other great options include prenatal yoga and prenatal fitness and Pilates classes taught by certified instructors like we have at the Motherhood Center. Check out our class schedules for prenatal fitness classes! The key is to be cautious while exercising and not to overdo physical activity. 
  • Drink Coffee, in moderation – The general consensus is that pregnant women should stay away from caffeine, and although many do for the duration of their pregnancy and while nursing, moderate levels of caffeine should be fine. Caffeine crosses the placenta and can affect a growing baby’s metabolism so the less caffeine you ingest, the safer it is. However, a moderate amount, defined as 150 to 30 milligrams a day which is about one or two mugs of coffee, is considered acceptable. Be aware though that caffeine is not only found in tea and coffee but also in chocolate, soda, and some over-the-counter medications. 
  • Eat good food! – Growing a baby takes a lot of hard work, and work requires calories. So, eat up! Pregnant women need about 300 extra calories a day to keep up with a growing baby. Stay away from junk food and sweets; those extra calories do not provide any nutrients for your baby. A growing baby will take the vitamins and minerals that it needs from your own body so if you don’t fuel your pregnancy with good food, your health can suffer. Choose foods that are high in protein, good fats, calcium, iron, and folic acid found in vegetables. Also, drink plenty of fluids!
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