While there are many things that you should do to help insure a healthy pregnancy there are also things that you need to avoid. From alcohol to drugs, to even a soak in a hot tub, your developing baby can be at risk. The March of Dimes warns about the following:
* Alcohol, drugs and smoking: Avoid alcohol, cigarettes and illegal drugs. Consult carefully with your doctor or healthcare provider about prescription medication if you are taking any. Don't decide to stop taking your regular medication without the advice of your doctor or healthcare provider, you could wind up doing more harm by stopping treatment for problems you are having. For example, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has concerns about selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and other related antidepressants for pregnant women. The group advises that women and their doctors should carefully consider all the ramifications of being on the drugs or not while pregnant. The concern is the higher risk of birth defects in babies whose mothers took the drugs. Also, speak to your physician before taking any over-the-counter medications.
* Hot tubs or saunas can cause a dangerous rise in body temperature and are best avoided.
* X-rays: In general, pregnant women are also advised to avoid x-rays, owing to concerns about potential harm to the fetus. If x-rays are absolutely necessary, the abdomen should be shielded.
* Infections: Take extra precautions to avoid infections. If you get a urinary tract infection or a sexually transmitted disease , it needs to be treated immediately. Also have someone else change the cat litter, and don't eat raw or under cooked meat. Cat litter and undercooked meat both can contain a parasite that could cause toxoplasmosis that can harm a fetus. Pregnant women and their babies are also at a higher risk from certain bacterial infections such as listeria. If you develop a fever or gastrointestinal problems during pregnancy, see your doctor or healthcare provider. There are other infections that pregnant women should be aware of, such as group B strep. Around 25 percent of women may carry the bacteria at any time. This doesn't mean that they have group B strep disease, but it does mean that they are at higher risk for giving their baby a group B strep infection during birth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) guidelines recommend that a pregnant woman be tested for group B strep in her vagina and rectum when she is 35 to 37 weeks pregnant.
* Tooth & gum disease: Pregnant women also need to take extra care of oral hygiene. The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) says that elevated hormones during pregnancy causes the bacteria in plaque to react differently with the gums. It can result in a condition called pregnancy gingivitis. AGD says that research is showing a link between gingivitis and early labor and low birth weight. The connection, according to AGD, is the bacteria in gingivitis are suspected of causing premature labor. The gums can also swell due to the pregnancy hormones and bleed during chewing and brushing.
* Anemia: There are various types of anemia that can occur during pregnancy. Pregnancy can cause iron deficiency anemia if a woman's diet does not have enough iron for both the mother and fetus. Folate deficiency anemia can occur when the mother's diet is lacking in folate or there are problems absorbing vitamins. Folate, also called folic acid, is needed to make red blood cells. It also may occur during the third trimester of pregnancy, when your body needs extra folate. A third type of anemia is called anemia of pregnancy. It can occur because a women's blood volume increase by as much as 50 percent during pregnancy. This can lead to a dilution of the red blood cells in circulation. It becomes a problem if the levels fall too low.