by Ivory King
Old wives’ tales, myths, superstitions: when you’re pregnant, you’ll hear it all. Everyone’s got advice for you whether you ask for it or not, but there are many things that are dangerous when you’re expecting. There’s some things that are obvious, and others that fall through the cracks. Other commonly advised notions have even been debunked. So at the same time you’re avoiding alcohol, sushi and cigarette smokers, there’s a few more things you may need to add to your After They’re Born list.
While strenuous exercise is considered risky, as are sports where you’re likely to get bumped hard or fall down, moderate activity is considered healthy for you and your baby. While too much is dangerous, too little is unhealthy - you want to make sure your blood pressure stays in the normal zone and that you gain the recommended amount of weight. This will translate into your child being healthier not only as an infant, but into adolescence, according to Parents.com: “Research shows that children born to normal-weight mothers are less likely to be fat and have bodies that process fats and carbohydrates in a healthier way than brothers and sisters born to the same mother when she was overweight.”
But if you are used to taking a bath or using muscle rubs after working out, you’ve got some label reading ahead of you. Not only are ibuprofen and naproxen just a couple of the over-the-counter drugs you should avoid, you’ll want to make sure your post-workout aches - and that sore, overloaded back! - are soaked in a warm - not hot - bath. Keep the water at body temperature, and skip bath salts with high mineral content - Dead Sea salt, or others. According to an OB-GYN on FitPregnancy, the minerals can heat up the water and cause your heart rate to go up. This means you’ll have to skip hot tubs and saunas for a while, too. Since chemicals can be absorbed by your skin and transfer through the placenta to the fetus, you’ll also want to make sure that the products you use contain no toxins or undesirable substances. Organic products are easy to find, and you can even use simple ingredients like coconut oil or cocoa butter that are food-grade to make matters easier.
But there are certain substances that are natural and normally innocuous that pregnant bodies shouldn’t absorb. Goldenseal can transfer through the placenta, passion flower and dong quai may stimulate the uterus and induce early labor, and pau d’arco has low levels of toxicity that has led to birth defects in rats. These are common herbs that you might think would be good since they are either strengtheners of the immune system or are relaxing.
Tattoos and body piercings have been part of various cultures for thousands of years, but they do run a risk for infection. While you may want to mark such a significant life event with a tattoo, consider waiting a while. Not only are transmissions of Hepatitis B or HIV a tiny but nevertheless present possibility, tattoo inks have not been extensively studied for their effects on pregnancies.
Tired of all the dietary limitations? Many of them are related to potential food-borne illnesses and parasites that are more common in raw animal products. Instead of missing your raw fish, deli meat, etc, there are many plant-based alternatives that are delicious and totally safe. Tomato and carrot are used in some recipes that make for that unique briny umami that you’ve been craving, and none of the mercury that contaminates carnivorous fish like tuna. Also, did you know that some types of fish that are popular in sushi are being hunted to extinction? That’s in bad taste. As for veggie-based ham slices, bologna and the like, there are plenty of store-bought options or you can make it yourself. Also, herbal coffee has been around for ages, and it may not seem convincing at first, the toasty taste of chicory and dandelion root will be better than nothing 7 months in.
Since stress is supposed to be bad for you and the fetus, go ahead and snuggle your cat - but let someone else change their litter box! Toxoplasmosis is a common parasite that kitties sometimes carry and is transmitted via their stool. It can cause birth defects, most significantly, and also fatigue and other symptoms.
We certainly listed a lot of Cannots here, but we tried to accompany them with Insteads. True, pregnancy isn’t the most convenient of times in your life, but it is temporary! With luck, we’ve made these exciting, if uncomfortable months of your life a little safer, and a little more enjoyable.