Pregnancy is a scary and emotional time for most moms, whether they experience complications or not. Especially for first time moms, expecting parents seem to question the safety of every aspect of their lives for the wellbeing of their little ones. With warning labels on everything from food to cosmetics, it’s sometimes hard to tell what’s truly dangerous and what is, for all practical purposes, perfectly safe.
Still, all moms, whether new or not, have plenty of questions about what they should and shouldn’t do with baby on board. Obviously, the best thing to do is talk to your doctor, but even doctors don’t always have the answers you need. Plus, they tend to err on the side of caution for patients, while every individual’s needs and potential risks are different.
We get it, because it’s mom’s job to keep baby safe both before she’s born and after, but there’s so much fearmongering going on that pregnant moms are regarded as little more than chaste incubators for their babies. Truthfully, most moms’ bellies aren’t ticking time bombs. In the interest of honest disclosure, check out this list of things most moms think will hurt the baby, but most likely won’t.
15Too Much Grown Up Time
The most common concern newly pregnant moms have is whether it’s safe to have intercourse with a baby on board. Especially since many moms get more uncomfortable the bigger their bellies grow, there’s a longstanding misconception that having intimate relations isn’t safe for pregnancy. But in most cases, there’s no danger to be concerned over.
What to Expect says that in normal pregnancies, sex isn’t harmful. Your doctor will let you know if there’s any reason to abstain from intimacy, but in general, low-risk pregnancies don’t have those kinds of regulations. While getting intimate later in pregnancy could help get labor started, a typical pregnant woman won’t go into early labor from intimacy unless there’s some other medical condition present. And finally, baby doesn’t have any clue what’s happening, so there’s no need to worry about that either.
14Taking Personal Time
Just the same as there’s little to no risk to typical pregnant women with intimacy with a partner, there’s also no reason to be concerned about ahem… personal time… affecting a woman’s unborn baby. For the same reasons that it’s safe for normal and healthy expecting moms to have relations with a partner, it’s just as safe for mom to enjoy her alone time.
Besides, the hormones related to this personal hobby can help otherwise anxious moms feel more relaxed and positive about daily life and pregnancy in general. Plus, when your belly is so big that getting intimate with a partner doesn’t sound possible let alone enjoyable, the alternative isn’t any worse when it comes to safety. Some moms even try to have an orgasm during labor and delivery- how’s that for safety?
13When Mom Wines A Lot
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a serious problem for babies of moms who overindulge during pregnancy. But is drinking wine truly dangerous for expecting moms, or is it all hype? Recent research suggests that a few glasses of wine won’t hurt. Michelle Ruiz wrote about her personal experiences drinking lightly while pregnant with her daughter. While out in public, she received some stark criticisms, but Ruiz says she would never have drank during her pregnancy if she thought there was any chance she could harm her baby.
Still, your OBGYN likely won’t be signing you up for a wine delivery subscription as part of your prenatal package. An anonymous OB told Cosmopolitan that she drank in moderation during her own pregnancy, and told friends it was fine to do the same. None of these women reported ill effects.
12Medicating For Depression
A common concern from moms who live with depression is that taking their medication while expecting will harm their unborn babies. Unfortunately, many moms even feel pressured by their OBs to go off of medication during pregnancy, sometimes even cold turkey depending on whether you’re planning your pregnancy or are unexpectedly expecting.
However, according to WebMD, research is showing that many antidepressants are generally safe. Plus, sacrificing mom’s mental health in order to avoid the low chance that the baby might have ill effects as a result of mom’s meds isn’t always the smartest decision. Still, it’s something you should discuss with your doctor, and hopefully you have a supportive doctor that you can be open with about your concerns and your mental health needs. Other things moms with depression can do is make sure to attend therapy, get exercise, and try and reduce stress.
11A Taste For Spice
First time moms are nervous about a lot of things, and one of them is hearing other people’s advice about the pregnancy. It seems like no matter where you turn, there’s always someone giving unwanted advice that could even be harmful to your baby. Like one mom who turned to Babycenter’s message boards to ask whether eating spicy foods would hurt her baby, because her mother and grandmother told her that doing so would make the baby come out blind.
Eating spicy food while pregnant might give you heartburn, but it won’t make your baby blind or make the child come out with any kind of health issues. Apart from the list of foods pregnant moms shouldn’t eat because of potential bacterial contamination concerns, there’s not much that a pregnant woman can’t eat- including hot foods like sauces or peppers.
10How About That Cocktail?
Wine has those heart healthy antioxidants, so we can sort of justify our pregnancy cravings for wine based on that. But what about beer? Most beer has a lower alcohol content than wine, but of course that varies based on the type you enjoy. Overall, it seems like a lower alcohol content would be safer than a higher content, as long as you’re still only drinking lightly or moderately.
The studies that explore alcohol consumption of pregnant moms don’t always differentiate between wine and beer, so it’s safe to say that the research covers both types of drinks. Also, many women report that drinking a dark beer helped increase their breast milk supply. Whether those benefits are real or imagined, and whether you can help your milk before baby is delivered, is up for debate, but we’d say go ahead and enjoy a beer with your doctor’s okay.
9That Morning Buzz
If you’re a coffee addict, it might seem terrible torture to give up caffeine for the nine months that you’re carrying a baby. Or if you enjoy your daily soda but aren’t sure if the caffeine jolt will wake you up, or mess with baby’s biology, you’re probably wondering how dangerous caffeine really is. American Pregnancy says that pregnant women should limit caffeine to 200mg per day. They say that’s comparable to what’s in a cup of coffee.
An average Coke contains less than 40 grams of caffeine, so it seems you’re safe if your drug of choice is a can of soda. But will caffeine really hurt your baby if you bump over the 200mg marker? That depends on how your body (and baby’s body) reacts to caffeine, but recent studies say consuming coffee is harmless for most of us.
8Hitting The Gym
If you’ve ever had a well-meaning (and usually older) relative or friend tell you that you shouldn’t exercise while pregnant, this little tidbit is for you. Some old wives’ tales even say for pregnant women to not lift their arms over their heads for nine months, but current data tells us it’s safe and also healthy for pregnant women to exercise throughout those nine long months.
What to Expect states that exercising during pregnancy can help you avoid delivery complications, speed your post-baby recovery, help you fight fatigue, and even relieve constipation. Beyond just walking or light aerobics, even exercise like full-on marathon running or weight lifting might be safe for you, as long as you’re not starting an intensive program without any previous experience. Still, check with your doc on this, but in most cases, exercise is safe and beneficial for expecting moms.
7Lingering At Bath Time
When you’re nearing the end of your pregnancy (or you’re far from your due date!), there’s not much that can make you feel relaxed and weightless, right? But taking a soothing bath is one way to relieve those aching muscles and take the weight off your tired feet. Still, many moms think that taking hot baths will hurt their babies.
This wives’ tale has some truth to it, because pregnant women shouldn’t be jumping in a hot tub or sauna, since super high temperatures can raise your core temperature to levels that are dangerous to baby. Plus, public hot tubs and saunas are breeding grounds for nasty bacteria. But a bath at home in the safety of your personal tub is just fine, as long as you maintain a temperature that’s close to normal body temperature, UAMS Health says.
6Artificially Sweetening Up
It’s long been said that artificial sweeteners like aspartame kill laboratory rats, so many people are skeptical about the safety of that and other sweeteners on the market. Although it’s best to avoid sweeteners- and regular sugar- altogether for many health reasons, consuming sweets in moderation won’t usually harm you or your baby.
According to American Pregnancy, sweeteners like Stevia, Sunett, Equal, NutraSweet, and Splenda are also safe for pregnant women to consume in moderation. The only sweeteners that have widespread and proven negative effects are Sweet’N Low (Saccharin) and Cyclamate (this one is banned in the US). So if you crave a diet soda or tea with sweetener during pregnancy, it’s probably safe to indulge once or twice a day. Plus, artificial sweeteners won’t give baby a sugar jolt!
5Nursing Big Sibs
Many moms worry about continuing to nurse an older child through a new pregnancy. But the benefits for the older sibling are plentiful, especially if your babies are less than a year apart! However, even older toddlers can still safely nurse while mom is pregnant with another little one. According to American Pregnancy, breastfeeding during pregnancy is generally considered safe.
The only exceptions to this generalization are cases in which mom’s pregnancy is deemed high-risk, or if she has a history or risk of preterm labor. Then again, many moms who are nursing older toddlers when they become pregnant find that either they have a hard time continuing to nurse, or that the timing presents an opportunity to carefully and compassionately wean bigger siblings. Either way, doing what’s best for you and your current nursling shouldn’t affect the baby on the way.
4Prego Dropping Pounds
Most OBs and even midwives often give their patients a packet of information on pregnancy that suggests moms gain a set amount of weight during those important 9 months. It’s usually considered unhealthy for mom to pack on extra pounds, but it’s often equally condemned for mom to lose weight while baby’s on board.
However, for moms who eat right and stay active during pregnancy, it’s possible for them to lose weight early on with no ill effects to the baby. That’s not to say we recommend running marathons at 4 weeks pregnant to try and keep the pounds off, but for moms who start out with a little extra weight, it can be healthy for her to weigh less immediately post-baby than she did pre-baby. It happened to me!
3Cleaning With A Bump
How often do you hear a mom or mother-in-law tell a pregnant woman she shouldn’t be cleaning the house while gestating the baby? There’s a misconception about the dangers of cleaning products and pregnant women that’s surprising considering the products on the market today and mom’s innate biological systems that protect the baby in her womb.
Still, you probably don’t want to get too close to the toilet during pregnancy unless you’re puking into it, but there are greener products that are quite safe to use if you have to be scrubbing the porcelain throne often. And as always, don’t combine ammonia and bleach- and if you’re using either product separately, be sure to ventilate the area and wear gloves. Also, WebMD says to avoid oven cleaner, since that product isn’t safe to breathe even for non-pregnant people.
2Buckling Up Tight
Being pregnant can get pretty uncomfortable, especially if your bump puts a lot of distance between you and the view of your feet. So it’s safe to say that most pregnant women don’t enjoy riding in the car or buckling a seatbelt around the mass in their middles. But is it dangerous to wear a seatbelt while you’re expecting?
In general, it’s just as safe to wear a seatbelt when you’re pregnant as it is when you’re not. Besides, the alternative to not wearing the seatbelt is you could be ejected from the vehicle in the event of an accident. But make sure you’re wearing your seatbelt correctly- with the lap portion across your hips (underneath your belly) and the shoulder portion appropriately placed across your middle. This way, your bones take the brunt of any impact instead of your womb (and baby) and organs.
1Toking Up While Knocked Up
Depending on where you live, it may or may not be legal to consume marijuana. If it’s not legal where you live, you could face having your kids removed if the drug is found in your system. But many pregnant moms, especially those with pre-existing conditions, turn to marijuana to relieve pain, help them relax, and help them generate an appetite when morning sickness lasts more than in the morning!
According to Herb, a 2016 review and meta-analysis of observational studies found no statistical correlation between cannabis use and any negative birth outcome. That’s good news for moms who need some help to get through their pregnancies, and it’s promising for women who experience severe morning sickness or hyperemesis gravidarum. At the same time, there’s always a risk to moms who choose to consume cannabis if their local government doesn’t approve of recreational use of the herb.
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