Before your little bundle of joy arrives, you’re responsible for helping them grow in a nurturing, healthy environment. This list of do’s and don’ts can shed some light on what you should worry about — and what you really shouldn’t fret over.
1. Do have sex
Sex during pregnancy is fine, as long as you don’t have a complicating factor such as placenta previa or another type of high-risk pregnancy. Avoid sex once your water breaks. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about the safety of intercourse during your pregnancy.
If you weren’t doing yoga before you became pregnant, talk with your doctor before signing up for a class. While it’s possible you can start, it’s best to go over the risks and concerns with your doctor.
2. Don’t smoke
Babies born to women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have a lower birth weight and are at a greater risk for learning disabilities than children born to nonsmoking mothers.
Additionally, children born to women who smoke are more likely to try smoking at a younger age and become regular smokers earlier, due to physiologic nicotine addiction.
3. Do get lots of sleep
Changing hormone levels, anticipation, and anxiety can make sleep elusive during your nine months of pregnancy. Pregnancy is demanding, especially in the final trimester, and you’ll need your sleep.
Take a quick snooze if you feel tired and schedule naps whenever you can. Set bedtimes and stick to them. Aim for seven to nine hours of shut-eye each night. Fatigue is a sign that your body needs more rest, so give yourself all the Zzz’s you can.
4. Don’t drink alcohol
Alcohol may greatly impact your baby’s development. Women who drink alcohol while pregnant could deliver a baby with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Symptoms of FAS include:
- low birth weight
- learning disabilities
- behavior problems
- lagging patterns in terms of growth and development milestones
Even small amounts of alcohol can be a problem. If you need help quitting drinking while you’re pregnant, talk with your doctor as soon as possible. The sooner you get help, the healthier your baby is likely to be.
5. Do work out
Gone are the days of pregnant women avoiding lifting a finger during their pregnancies: We now know that exercise is good for mama and baby. In fact, regular exercise may help you combat many of the issues that arise during pregnancy, including:
- muscle pain
- excessive weight gain
- mood problems
If you regularly exercised before you became pregnant, keep it up. Talk with your doctor about any adjustments you should make to your routine, especially as you move into your second and third trimesters.
6. Don’t eat raw meat
Raw and under cooked meat and eggs carry the risk of food borne illness, such as listeriosis and toxoplasmosis. Food poisoning is also a possibility. These conditions can cause serious, life-threatening illnesses that could lead to severe birth defects and even miscarriage. Make sure all eggs and meat that you eat while pregnant are well-cooked.
7. Do eat seafood
Seafood is loaded with vitamins and minerals, such as heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and iron. These are all important for both mom and baby. But undercooked or raw seafood can also cause some problems.
Seafood may carry harmful bacteria and viruses, which are eliminated when thoroughly cooked. Also, pregnant women should avoid raw fish and fish that may contain high levels of mercury. Examples of fish containing high levels of mercury include:
- king mackerel
Eat a variety of seafood so you don’t have a concentration of minerals from one type of fish. Eat no more than 12 ounces of fish per week.
8. Don’t eat deli meat
Deli meats — including hot dogs, sausages, smoked salmon, and other cured meats — can cause foodborne illness, such as listeriosis and toxoplasmosis. Thoroughly cooking these processed proteins well reduces your risk. It’s also important to eat pasteurized (not raw) milk and cheese. Always wash produce to help eliminate harmful bacteria.
9. Do practice yoga
You should avoid Bikram or hot yoga, but other yoga modalities are fine when you’re expecting. Seek out prenatal or gentle yoga classes that are designed for mothers-to-be. Instructors in these classes will know which poses are best and which you should avoid.
10. Don’t drink a lot of caffeine
Caffeine can travel through the placenta and increase your baby’s heart rate. Current research suggests that women can safely consume a cup or two of coffee each day, but forego downing a triple-shot latte while you’ve got a bun in the oven.