If you’re expecting, you’re probably hoping to hear a lot more “yes” in your life (*ahem* Creating life here! Worship me!). Unfortunately, there are quite a few “no”s that come with that positive pregnancy test result.
Not only does your body change while carrying your new addition (duh), but the way you live also needs to change to make sure that little peanut is safe.
Since navigating the seemingly endless list of do’s and don’ts can feel like fighting an uphill battle (while pregnant, no less), here’s a list of the big no-no’s to avoid when you have a bun in the oven.
While your diet will probably stay much the same during your pregnancy, there are quite a few foods you should steer clear of.
When you’re pregnant, your immune system is actually weakened to allow the baby to grow inside your body, which makes you way more susceptible to foodborne illnesses than your non-pregnant self.
Here are the main foods to avoid:
Unpasteurized milks and cheeses
Soft imported cheeses like brie, feta, Gorgonzola, Camembert, Roquefort, and Mexican-style cheeses (yes, the beloved queso blanco and queso fresco for taco Tuesday) are all no-gos unless they say they’re made with pasteurized milk.
Unpasteurized milks and cheeses put you at risk of Listeria, which is a nasty bacteria that can make pregnant women really sick.
Your deli days are over — for the next 9 months, anyway. Like unpasteurized dairy, deli meat can carry Listeria. If you really can’t give up the cold cuts, try heating your deli meat in the microwave until it starts steaming. That will kill any Listeria hanging around.
Mooing steaks are a thing of the past, and “well done” is your new reality. Rare and undercooked beef put you at risk of coliform bacteria, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella, all of which can lead to miscarriage-causing illnesses and complications.
Again with the dang Listeria. Eggs that aren’t fully cooked put you at risk (farewell, comrade cookie dough). Even your favorite sunny-side-up eggs can put you at risk.
Sushi and undercooked seafood
Like undercooked beef, raw or undercooked seafood is a big nope because of bacteria and parasites. Undercooked fish and shellfish — including oysters, clams, and mussels — also put you at risk of illness that could hurt your baby.
Smoked seafood is also on the Do Not Eat list. Make sure to order your salmon well done.
Fish high in mercury or pollutants
Cooked fish is OK during pregnancy, and fish high in omega-3s (like salmon) actually has a lot of benefits, but be picky about which types of fish you eat.
Fish from polluted waters can impact your health. Remember when the Gulf had that giant oil spill? Yeah, you wouldn’t have wanted your seafood dinner coming from that ocean in 2004, and you may still not today.
To be safe, stick to wild-caught, sustainably sourced fish without added colors or hormones.
You’ll also want to nix fish that can be high in mercury. Mercury can lead to brain damage and developmental delays, and when a pregnant woman consumes fish with mercury, she passes these effects on to her unborn baby.
Fish that contain mercury include:
- king mackerel
Canned chunk light tuna is typically safe to eat in moderation because it has lower levels of mercury.
Unwashed fruits and veggies
You’re going to hear a lot about toxoplasmosis, but let’s start here. If your feline friend Snowball is infected with toxoplasma and poops in your veggie garden, the soil is now contaminated.
If you go to get a fresh tomato and don’t thoroughly wash the dirt off before you eat it, you are also now infected. Pregnant women who are infected with toxoplasmosis can have severe complications, like fetal development issues or miscarriage.
Make sure you wash any fruits or veggies, especially from home gardens, thoroughly with mild soap and water or a veggie wash before eating them.
You gotta wash that food down with something, right? So what drinks are off the menu?
You might have thought you’d be that cool European mom who could still drink a glass of red wine with a cute little bump, but no, actually there isn’t enough research to prove any amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy.
Drinking alcohol gives your baby a straight shot of those boozy effects via the placenta, which can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome.
Too much coffee (or caffeine in general)
Let’s get this out of the way: It’s a myth that you can’t drink coffee when you’re pregnant. You can have coffee! Go tell the old lady who’s mean-mugging you for that small latte to take a hike.
You will need to significantly cut back, though, if you’re a multiple-cups-a-day coffee drinker or a Diet Coke fanatic.
Too much caffeine can cause problems because caffeine can pass directly through the placenta to your unborn baby. Studies have even linked caffeine to miscarriage.
A 2015 study found that miscarriage risk increased by 19 percent with every caffeine increase of 150 milligrams a day and by 8 percent for every additional two cups of coffee per day.
The March of Dimes recommends you stick to 200 milligrams of caffeine a day, which translates to about a 12-ounce cup of coffee, depending on the brew strength. Make sure you also account for caffeinated soda and tea in your caffeine quota.
Do we really need to explain? Do you need Red Bull to give your baby wings? Energy drinks and pregnancy don’t mix.
A 16-ounce energy drink can contain 240 milligrams of caffeine, not to mention a bunch of other stimulants your growing fetus definitely does not need.
Driving is still considered a fairly safe activity during pregnancy. If you’re going to get behind the wheel, however, you need to protect yourself: You should always wear your seat belt, including when you’re pregnant.
If you wear your seatbelt correctly, there’s little chance of injury to your baby during normal driving and even during road accidents. What little chance there is pales in comparison to the risks of not wearing a seat belt at all.
As far as getting comfortable using a typical three-point seat belt during your pregnancy (and doing it safely), here are a few tips:
- Position the lap portion of the belt as far under your belly as possible, not straight across.
- Keep the driver’s seat as far back from the steering wheel as you can while still maintaining easy access to important stuff like the brakes, gear shift, and headlights.
- Consider adjusting the angle of the steering wheel upward, so the bottom edge of the wheel isn’t directly parallel with your stomach.
- Make sure the shoulder portion of the belt is positioned correctly (over your shoulder and down the center of your chest).
If it makes you more comfortable, you might be able to utilize a seat belt positioner when you’re pregnant.
This allows your lap belt to be secured in between your legs — rather than at one side — so it rests on top of your thighs, not under your belly. We recommend checking with your OB-GYN or midwife first, though, to see if this is safe for you.
Now that you know how to drive more safely while pregnant, when should you choose not to drive at all? Here are six scenarios.