13 Habits to avoid during pregnancy

Most women can continue with their everyday activities during pregnancy and only need to make some minor lifestyle changes. The health and well-being of both the woman and the developing fetus are of primary concern during pregnancy, so it is best to avoid consuming certain foods and doing potentially risky activities.

1)Drinking alcohol

When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, the alcohol crosses the placenta and can affect the fetus. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy may cause fetal alcohol syndrome.

A fetus that gets exposure to alcohol in the womb may develop a wide range of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. These disorders can cause the following health issues:

  • physical abnormalities
  • intellectual disabilities
  • behavioral problems
  • seizures
  • poor growth
  • developmental delays
  • reduced coordination and fine motor skills

2)Eating certain foods

It is common for pregnant women to avoid certain foods during pregnancy, either due to a change in their sense of smell or because the food makes them feel ill. However, there are some foods that all pregnant women should avoid eating. These include:

  • Lunch meat and deli salads: Deli meats and foods, such as premade chicken salad, may contain listeria. Listeria is a bacteria that can cross the placenta and may be deadly for the fetus.
  • Unpasteurized juice and dairy: As with deli meats, unpasteurized dairy products and juices can contain listeria and other bacteria that may cause food poisoning.
  • Some soft cheeses: Certain soft cheese may contain unpasteurized dairy, particularly imported soft cheeses, such as brie, feta, and queso blanco.
  • Fish high in mercury: Swordfish, shark, and mackerel are among the fish that contain high levels of mercury. According to March of Dimes, exposing the fetus to mercury may cause brain damage or hearing and vision problems.
  • Raw meat and fish: Raw meat and fish, including sushi and raw oysters, can contain both salmonella and toxoplasmosis. Pregnant women have an increased risk of getting foodborne illness from these pathogens. Foodborne illness may cause dehydration, fever, and intrauterine sepsis, a blood infection that can be deadly to the fetus.
  • Raw eggs: Raw eggs can also contain salmonella. Pregnant women should avoid any foods that may contain raw eggs, such as unbaked cookie dough or homemade Caesar salad dressing.

3)Too much caffeine

In the same way as alcohol, caffeine can cross the placenta and affect the fetus.

While much of the data regarding pregnancy and caffeine consumption is inconclusive, research suggests that it is best to limit the intake of caffeine to 300 milligrams (mg) per day. Some experts believe that quantities greater than this can be harmful to the fetus and may increase the risk of pregnancy loss and low birth weight.

March of Dimes recommend that pregnant women consume no more than 200 mg of caffeine per day. This amounts to about 1.5 cups of coffee per day.

4)Hot tubs, saunas, and overheating

While relaxing in hot water may sound like an effective way to ease pregnancy discomfort, experts recommend avoiding hot tubs and saunas.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, hot tubs can cause hyperthermia, or abnormally high body temperature, which may lead to congenital abnormalities.

Additional activities that may cause the body temperature to rise too high include:

  • hot yoga or Pilates
  • sunbathing for too long
  • exposure to extreme heat
  • strenuous exercise
  • dehydration

5)Contact sports

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that pregnant women avoid contact sports, such as football or boxing.

Contact sports increase the risk of placental abruption, which is the premature separation of the placenta from the uterine wall. Placental abruption is a severe condition that can cause preterm birth, pregnancy loss, or stillbirth.

Pregnant women are also more prone to injury as hormonal changes in the body cause the ligaments to become looser.

6)Activities with a fall risk

After the first trimester, pregnant women should avoid any activity which carries the risk of falling, including skiing, ice-skating, and rock climbing.

During pregnancy, the center of gravity shifts as the belly expands, so even a minor fall may result in injuries.

7)Amusement park rides

Many amusement parks do not allow pregnant women on some rides, including roller coasters or any rides that may start or stop suddenly.

The jarring motion of these rides can cause placental abruption.

8)Changing a litter box

Pregnant women should avoid changing a litter box. Cleaning dirty litter boxes can put a person at risk of toxoplasmosis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if a pregnant woman passes toxoplasmosis to the fetus, the baby may develop severe symptoms, including:

  • blindness
  • intellectual disabilities
  • brain damage
  • eye damage

9)Heavy lifting

According to the American Pregnancy Association, pregnant women should avoid heavy lifting. For some women, lifting heavy objects can increase the risk of:

  • pulled muscles
  • hernias
  • low birth weight
  • preterm labor

10)Smoking

Smoking cigarettes during pregnancy can cause harm to both the woman and the baby. Aside from an increased risk of heart disease and lung cancer, smoking when pregnant can also cause the following problems during and after pregnancy:

  • premature birth
  • congenital abnormalities, such as cleft lip or cleft palate
  • sudden infant death syndrome
  • issues with the placenta

Women should stop smoking as soon as they know that they are pregnant and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke. Women who are struggling to quit smoking can talk to a doctor about the help and additional resources that are available.

11)Drugs

While illegal drug use is always dangerous, it can be even more harmful during pregnancy.

Using illegal drugs or misusing certain prescription drugs can cause a newborn to go through neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). A baby with NAS will go through substance withdrawal at birth.

Additionally, drug use can increase the risk of stillbirth, pregnancy loss, and congenital abnormalities.

12)Taking certain medications

Pregnant women should avoid some over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications while pregnant, as these can harm the fetus.

Doctors recommend avoiding the following medications while pregnant:

  • ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs 
  • most herbal remedies
  • ACE inhibitors
  • some cold medications during the first trimester
  • cold and flu medications that contain specific ingredients
  • some acne medications

A doctor or pharmacist can provide advice on which medications are safe to use and can often recommend alternatives if women can no longer take their regular medicines.

13)Some types of exercise

Although doctors recommend that most pregnant women exercise, certain types of exercise are not suitable during pregnancy.

Pregnant women should try to avoid exercise that involves:

  • bouncing, leaping, and jumping
  • sudden changes in direction
  • jarring or jerky movements
  • abdominal exercises on the back, such as situps, after the first trimester

Many exercises, such as walking, swimming, and squats, can be beneficial during pregnancy. It is best to speak to a doctor about any existing or new exercise routines.

 

Which fruits should you eat during pregnancy?

Making healthful food choices is crucial for women when they are pregnant. Their diet will provide the fetus with the nutrients essential for growth and development.

A nutritious diet plays an essential role in a person’s overall health, helping the body to function effectively and reducing the risk of some diseases.

Most people are aware that a healthful diet should include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthful fats. However, they may not realize that specific fruits are particularly beneficial during pregnancy.

In this article, we explain why it is important to eat fruit during pregnancy. We also cover which fruits are best to eat during this time, and which types of fruit pregnant women may wish to avoid.

What are the benefits of eating fruit during pregnancy?

Fruits provide vitamins and nutrients that are essential during pregnancy.

Eating a healthful, varied diet is particularly important during pregnancy as the right nutrients can help the fetus to develop and grow as it should.

In addition to supporting the growing baby, an increased intake of vitamins and minerals can help a pregnant woman keep her own body in the best condition possible.

Eating plenty of fresh fruit during pregnancy can help to ensure that both the woman and baby remain healthy. Fresh fruit contains lots of essential vitamins and nutrients and is a good source of fiber too.

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The best fruits to eat during pregnancy

Snacking on fruit can be a great way to boost vitamin intake in addition to curbing sugar cravings.

1. Apricots

Apricots contain:

  • vitamins A, C, and E
  • calcium
  • iron
  • potassium
  • beta carotene
  • phosphorus
  • silicon

All of these nutrients help with the baby’s development and growth. Iron can prevent anemia and calcium helps bones and teeth grow strong.

2. Oranges

Oranges are an excellent source of:

  • folate
  • vitamin C
  • water

Oranges are great for keeping a person hydrated and healthy. Vitamin C can help prevent cell damage and assist with iron absorption.

Folate can help prevent neural tube defects, which can cause brain and spinal cord abnormalities in a baby. Neural tube defects can cause conditions such as spina bifida, where the spinal cord does not develop properly, and anencephaly, in which a large part of the brain and skull is missing.

3. Mangoes

Mangoes are rich in vitamins A and C.

One cup of chopped mango provides 100 percent of a person’s recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin C and more than a third of their RDA of vitamin A.

A baby born with vitamin A deficiency may have lower immunity and a higher risk of postnatal complications, such as respiratory infections.

4. Pears

Pears provide lots of the following nutrients:

  • fiber
  • potassium
  • folate

Getting plenty of fiber in a pregnancy diet can help ease constipation, a common pregnancy symptom.

Potassium can benefit heart health for both the woman and baby. It also stimulates cell regeneration.

5. Pomegranates

Pomegranates can provide pregnant women with plenty of:

  • vitamin K
  • calcium
  • folate
  • iron
  • protein
  • fiber

Nutrient-dense pomegranates are also a good source of energy, and their high iron content helps prevent iron-deficiency.

Vitamin K is also essential for maintaining healthy bones.

Research suggests that drinking pomegranate juice may help to decrease the risk of injury to the placenta.

6. Avocados

Avocados are an excellent source of:

  • vitamins C, E, and K
  • monounsaturated fatty acids
  • fiber
  • B vitamins
  • potassium
  • copper

Avocados contain healthful fats that provide energy and help to prevent neural tube defects. They also boost the cells responsible for building the skin and brain tissues of the developing baby.

The potassium in avocados can provide relief from leg cramps, another symptom that is common during pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester.

7. Guava

Guava contains vitamin E and folate, making it an ideal fruit to eat during pregnancy.

Guava is an excellent choice of fruit for people wanting more of the following nutrients:

  • vitamins C and E
  • polyphenols
  • carotenoids
  • isoflavonoids
  • folate

Guava contains a varied combination of nutrients, making it ideal for pregnant women. Eating guava during pregnancy can help to relax muscles, aid digestion, and reduce constipation.

8. Bananas

Bananas contain high levels of:

  • vitamin C
  • potassium
  • vitamin B-6
  • fiber

The high fiber content of bananas can help with pregnancy-related constipation, and there is some evidence to suggest that vitamin B-6 can help relieve nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy.

9. Grapes

Eating plenty of grapes can boost people’s intake of:

  • vitamins C and K
  • folate
  • antioxidants
  • fiber
  • organic acids
  • pectin

The nutrients in grapes can help to aid the biological changes that occur during pregnancy.

They contain immune-boosting antioxidants, such as flavonol, tannin, linalool, anthocyanins, and geraniol, which also help prevent infections.

10. Berries

Berries are a good source of:

  • vitamin C
  • healthy carbohydrates
  • antioxidants
  • fiber

Berries also contain lots of water, so they are an excellent source of hydration. Vitamin C helps with iron absorption and boosts the body’s immune system.

11. Apples

Apples are packed with nutrients to help a growing fetus, including:

  • vitamins A and C
  • fiber
  • potassium

One study found that eating apples while pregnant may reduce the likelihood of the baby developing asthma and allergies over time.

12. Dried Fruit

The following nutrients occur in dried fruit:

  • fiber
  • vitamins and minerals
  • energy

Dried fruit contains all the same nutrients as fresh fruit. Therefore, pregnant women can get their RDA of vitamins and minerals by eating portions of dried fruits that are smaller than the equivalent amount of fresh fruits.

However, it is important to remember that dried fruit can be high in sugar and does not contain the water content that fresh fruit does. This means that it does not aid digestion. Pregnant women should only eat dried fruits in moderation and should avoid candied fruits altogether.

It is best to eat dried fruits in addition to fresh fruits, rather than instead of them.

How much fruit should someone eat during pregnancy?

The advice for pregnant women is to eat at least five portions of fresh fruit and vegetables each day and to vary these as much as possible. Fruit can be fresh, canned, frozen, or dried.

As a general rule, a serving of fruit is:

  • one piece of fruit, for fruits that are larger than the size of a tennis ball
  • one cup of chopped fruit

Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables during pregnancy provides pregnant women with adequate nutrition to support their developing baby. It should also minimize the risk of certain diseases and defects and help to nourish the woman’s body.

Are there any fruits a person should avoid during pregnancy?

Fruit juice has a high sugar content.

There is no particular fruit that pregnant women should avoid. However, it is essential for women to be aware of portion size. Some fruits have a high sugar content, and certain forms of fruit, such as juices and dried fruits, are often significantly higher in sugar and calories than their fresh counterparts.

Buying organic fruit will ensure that it has not come into contact with fertilizers and pesticides that could damage its quality. However, if organic fruit is not an option, non-organic fruit is still better than eliminating fruit from the diet altogether.

It is important to remove any pesticides and bacteria that might be present on fruit by washing it thoroughly before eating it. People should take other safety precautions by:

  • removing areas of bruised fruit, which are more likely to contain bacteria
  • storing fruit in a separate area of the fridge to any raw meat products
  • avoiding precut melons
  • only drinking pasteurized or boiled fruit juice

Takeaway

Fruit is an excellent source of nutrients that are essential during pregnancy. Fruits can provide vitamins, folate, fiber, and more, which all help to keep the woman and baby healthy. These nutrients can also help to relieve some of the common symptoms of pregnancy.

Pregnant women should aim to consume at least five different portions of fruit and vegetables each day. The 12 fruits listed in this article are particularly good choices during pregnancy. Pregnant women should also limit their intake of dried fruits and fruit juices as these can be high in sugar and calories than fresh types.