Being the temporary home of your precious baby comes with a lot of responsibility. With all the wonderful things associated with pregnancy, there sure are a lot of rules too! You should always consult your physician about health matters that pertain to you as an individual, but there are some standard guidelines that apply to most pregnant women. We’re breaking them down in our two-part series about the Do’s and Don’ts of Pregnancy. Today we’re focusing on exposure and lifestyle choices, and tomorrow we’ll talk about diet and consumption.
Do see your OB for health exams on a regular basis. This is best way to ensure you and your baby stay healthy and to correct any potential problems before they spin out of control. Plus, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your baby is growing and developing properly in the womb.
Don’t use electric blankets or water beds. Both emit low-level electromagnetic fields that can be harmful to a developing fetus. Plus, electric blankets can overheat your body and water beds do not offer proper back support during pregnancy.
Do examine your skin and personal care items. Many chemical toxins are hidden in everyday skin care products (cleansers, moisturizers, astringents), personal care items (body washes, deodorants, toothpastes) and cosmetics. You may not recognize the ingredients as being toxic or they may not be listed at all. Be conscious of the products you put on your skin because they absorb into your bloodstream.
Don’t subject yourself to x-rays and microwaves. Radiation in small doses is OK for adults, but it is not recommended as your baby is growing in the womb. Postpone dental or other body x-rays until after pregnancy and do not stand around a microwave when it is in use.
Do exercise and keep your weight within your recommended range. Maintaining a healthy pregnancy weight is important for both you and your baby. As long as your physician gives you the green light, continue regular exercise throughout pregnancy. However, do not do any extreme exercising including anything that elevates your heart-rate above 160 bpm, which can limit oxygen flow to your baby’s growing brain. Also, avoid lifting heavy weights and abdominal exercises.
Don’t spend time around pesticides, paint fumes or household cleaners. Toxic exposure to these and other chemical-based products when consumed, inhaled or absorbed through skin can lead to birth defects. Avoid them whenever possible and wear gloves and ensure your house is ventilated when exposure to these products is absolutely necessary.
Do use houseplants to filter out chemicals from your home. This little known fact is particularly helpful for pregnant women who need to limit toxic exposure. Houseplants absorb and remove harmful chemicals that enter your home from paint, furniture stains, carpets and household cleaners.
Don’t spend much time around certain types of animals. Reptiles in particular carry dangerous viruses in their feces as can some livestock, especially those in other countries. Also, avoid contact with cat liter as it contains chemicals that may cause birth defects.
Do practice positive thinking. During pregnancy you have the opportunity to begin to bond with your baby. Take this time to send warm, loving thoughts to your baby – verbally and mentally – and to connect with your tot early in life.
Don’t stress. Stress releases adrenaline and cortisol into our bodies, both of which can effect your baby during these precious stages of growth and development. Find ways to manage stress through meditation, relaxation and exercise.
Do follow travel guidelines as recommended by your doctor. Your OB may advise you to stop traveling at a certain point during your pregnancy in the event that your baby is born early. Additionally, air travel or visiting foreign countries may be particularly risky later in pregnancy.
Don’t expose your body to extreme temperatures. In utero, babies cannot tolerate temperatures above 102. Make sure you are not over-heating during exercise or on hot days, and avoid time in hot baths, saunas or hot tubs.
Do sit some during the day. Standing all day long can cause swelling of the feet and arms and may contribute to varicose veins. But sitting all day long isn’t good either, as you need your blood to circulate. Be sure to alternate sitting, standing and walking around throughout the day.
Don’t get impromptu massages by non-professionals. Pregnancy massages by a professional masseuse is fine, but an untrained individual may trigger reflexology that can stimulate uterine pressure points and induce premature labor.