There are few things in life that are comparable to the feeling parents-to-be get when they see that positive pregnancy test. All of the sudden, dream-vacation fantasies turn into nursery decor fantasies and minivans are looking way more appealing. Unfortunately, there are 40 (give or take) solid weeks of pregnancy ahead and mama has to take good care of herself, and her little poppy seed, before the nursery is used and the minivan is practical.
Pregnancy is no walk in the park. Honestly, women should be worshiped when pregnant, not only because they are a walking incubator but because they are walking on really swollen feet and working really, really, hard at keeping breakfast down. Every pregnant woman should be gifted a bell by her partner so that she can ring it whenever she desires anything be it a glass of ice water or strawberry saltwater taffy from the beach (that is 200 miles away).
There are a lot of things an expecting mother can’t do, like jump on a trampoline or ride roller coasters (which, combined with morning sickness, sounds awful anyway). Thankfully, though, there are a lot of chores that are hard nos for mom-to-be, too.
So while it’s up to the baby’s dad to offer up a bell, here are a few things mom can duck out of thanks to that little poppyseed.
20 Put Down The Thanksgiving Turkey And Avoid Heavy Lifting
Unless you are a CrossFit champion who is used to lifting weights and your OB gives you a thumbs up to continue your lifting routine, use these next nine-ten months to get out of basically anything that involves lifting. Examples include carrying in groceries, moving furniture (this will be handy when it comes time to decorate the nursery!), or bringing big Amazon packages into the house from the porch. The possibilities here are endless because what person in their right mind would look at a pregnant woman who is proclaiming she can’t lift something and say, “you can do this, it’s less than 25 pounds”?
According to The Today Show’s Dr. Judith Reichman, this rule is a little more flexible in the early days of pregnancy, it is more important later in pregnancy because as a mom’s belly grows her center of gravity decreases which increases the risk of falling over (as if you didn’t feel like a weeble-wobble already). Dr. Reichman also mentions that there is no hard and fast weight a pregnant woman can’t lift, but that she should reduce her regular weight lifting amount by 20-25%.
As for the second time mamas, an important tip my OB gave me was that she will never deny a woman’s right to give a toddler her love.
So, if your toddler is on the heavier side (like mine), have him crawl on your lap or ask someone to pass him over to you so you can still give him all the love without the risk of toppling over.
19 Steer Clear Of The Kitty Litter
According to the CDC, pregnant women should avoid toxoplasmosis at all costs as this infection can be spread from mom to baby and can lead to blindness or mental disabilities in the baby. Severe cases can lead to significant eye or brain damage at birth.
So, how does a mama avoid toxoplasmosis? By avoiding kitty litter. Cat-owning pregnant women everywhere rejoice!
The CDC says, Toxoplasmosis is a parasite which a cat can contract when it eats another small animal infected with it, such as mice, rats, birds, etc. Cats carry this (and a multitude of other) parasite in their feces which can live for up to three weeks in the litter box. While this may seem limited to outdoor cats, you never know what little critter your indoor cat may have found and not presented to you as a present. If a pregnant woman manages to come into contact with the infected feces and then touches her face, the infection can easily spread (gross, gross, gross).
So, if you’re in a pinch and the box needs cleaned out, make sure you wear gloves and wash your hands after. But, the safest way to avoid the problem is to avoid the source, so add this to your husband’s “Honey-Do” list.
18 Any Work That Requires Long Periods Of Standing
You know what’s fun? Decorating the nursery or getting into “nesting mode” and organizing pretty much everything throughout the house. You know what isn’t so fun? Premature labor. So, if you want to avoid the latter, you need to make sure you’re taking rest breaks during the former.
Dr. Reichman, from the Today Show, points out that standing for four or more hours is tough for anyone, but it is risky for pregnant women.
She explains that the upright position causes pooling of blood in the lower extremities, and leaves less for the uterus (thanks, gravity!).
She goes on to explain that there are a lot of other risk-factors involved with standing too long such as blood clots, dizziness, and fatigue. She recommends taking a break to sit every couple of hours to battle this.
This may seem like a no-brainer (mostly because who wants to stand for that long, especially on swollen feet) but it’s easy to lose track of time when you’re in a cleaning frenzy or repainting the door trim with a craft brush because the perfectionist in you wants every inch of that trim to be bright white. Whatever it is that can cause you to suddenly lose half a day, keep an eye on the time (or set a timer) so that you can rest and your baby gets all the blood flow she needs.
17 Gardening in July and August
Being a plant lady is some tough work. It’s really dirty, you have to crawl around on your hands and knees, and there are a lot of bugs. In the end, though, you get beautiful flowers and plants to look at and to grow. However, if it’s really warm outside it is safer to assume you’ll be replacing a lot of flowers next year than to try to keep the landscape perfect.
According to the Today Show, pregnant women need to keep their body temperatures below 101 degrees Fahrenheit. This is because animal studies indicate that as a mother’s core temperature rises it increases the risk of a miscarriage or birth defects.
A baby’s temperature is typically one degree (Celsius) higher than mom’s at all times, so when mom gets overheated so does baby (even more so).
The bad news? Your garden or yard may suffer a bit. The good news? You have a legitimate excuse to ask your partner to mow the grass and tend to the weeds. Also, if the HOA comes knocking, you can simply show them a doctor’s note excusing you from having a well-manicured lawn (we’re not actually sure if this will work, but it’s worth a shot).
16 Anything Involving Cleaning Products
If you’ve ever wanted to convince your partner to invest in a home-cleaning service, this is the time to do it.
According to the non-profit organization, Pregnancy, Birth, and Baby, there are a lot of cleaning products that are not safe for pregnancy and can cause anything from some mild nausea (to be fair, they do that even if you’re not pregnant) to a condition called haemolytic anemia which happens when blood cells are damaged.
This is not a hard and fast rule for every cleaning product, and thankfully we are living in a world where there are more and more organic and natural options available. However, if you’re someone who likes the deep clean that only bleach can provide, it may be time to ask your partner to step up and do the deep cleaning. If you’re really lucky, he may have that attention to detail required to make sure the grout in the shower is free of hard water stains and soap scum. Or, if he’s anything like my husband, he will be so terrible at it and will be so tired of you criticising his work he will finally give in and outsource the task to a home-cleaning-service.
Either way, keep your nose away from the toxic products.
15 Baking Cookies For Visitors
Just to be clear, you can absolutely still bake cookies for yourself. In fact, you can technically still bake cookies for visitors, but you at least have a good excuse not to: the temptation of cookie dough. The only way to avoid the temptation is to avoid the delicious mixture of butter, sugar, more sugar, flour, and eggs entirely.
We’ve all been warned since we were kids not to eat the cookie dough because it has raw eggs in it. If you can find someone who listened to that advice and has never tasted cookie dough, that person is a unicorn among us and belongs in a museum. There is a reason “edible cookie dough” recipes are all over Pinterest.
According to March of Dimes, raw eggs run the risk of carrying the bacteria salmonella which, if ingested, can live in the digestive tract of humans (stomach and colon) and cause Salmonellosis - a form of food poisoning that is unpleasant, to say the least.
Salmonellosis can cause a variety of problems in pregnant women including severe dehydration, bacteria spreading to the blood and causing serious infections, or reactive arthritis. Furthermore, this can be passed along to the baby which can lead to diarrhea and fever at birth or meningitis - both of which pose serious risks.
14 Getting The Toy Out From Under The Couch
Late in pregnancy, you can simply drop something in plain sight, assess the situation, and decide it’s not worth it to try to pick it up and claim that wherever it landed is now its new home. Many blinder-clips found new homes on the floor surrounding my desk during my final weeks of pregnancy.
While that decision is easy to make for yourself, your toddler or pet may not be cool with their toy’s new home under the couch. It’s basically torment because they can see it, but their little fingers (or paws) just can’t reach it. So, you have to make the choice to get on the floor and get the toy or to live with the (human or animal) whining for an unknown amount of time.
If your bump is showing and fetching the toy requires you to lay on your stomach, you’re going to need to deal with the whining. Even if you’re not yet in your third trimester so you can still maybe get away with lying on your stomach, it’s not worth the risk.
According to LiveStrong, laying on your stomach puts pressure on the baby which may be harmful, and will certainly be uncomfortable.
So, ask someone else to get the toy or invest in one of those grabby-claw things with the extended arm, whatever it takes, just stay off your tummy.
13 Yard Care
Unlike gardening, which typically only calls for sunshine, some water, and maybe a sprinkle of plant food, the lawn is a whole different beast. There is a lot that goes into a beautifully manicured lawn. Mowing, edging, fertilizing, watering, and repeat for a golf-course worthy green yard. Or, maybe the process is a little less labor on you and a little more on a company you hire.
Either way, one of the key components to a beautiful yard is typically a fertilizer. It’s a no-brainer that a pregnant woman should avoid harsh chemicals, but fertilizer is even trickier because it sticks around for days, or longer, after it is put down.
According to The Bump, the most important time to avoid chemicals, including fertilizer, is during your first trimester when baby’s organs are developing as harmful exposure can cause birth defects in those vital organs.
After the first trimester, it is suggested to continue to use caution by covering your skin, eyes, and mouth any time you are exposing yourself (and in turn, your baby) to the chemicals. Additionally, if you must use a fertilizer, there are several all-natural products available that may not pose a risk. No matter what, though, use this as an excuse to skip out on the yard work (or to skip out on playing outside on a hot day).
12 Anything With a Ladder
Whether it’s replacing some roof shingles or simply trying to add some Christmas decor to the tops of your kitchen cabinets, it’s best to ask someone for help when you’re busy growing a tiny human. What may seem like two steps on a ladder or step stool to you, is basically a blaring “WARNING! WARNING!” alarm to everyone around you.
According to What to Expect, pregnant women are as likely as someone in their 70’s to fall over due to physiological changes that shift their center of gravity. Also, many pregnant women experience lightheadedness throughout pregnancy for a number of reasons, which only increases the risk of fall. Basically, there is a reason a pregnant woman is pretty much a walking klutz.
So, the clumsiness and lack-of-balance combined with height from a ladder or step-stool create a recipe for a bad fall.
What to Expect states that falls are the most common cause of minor injuries during pregnancy as well as the cause for 17-39% of traumas significant enough for ER visits. The odds are not in your favor, here. Skip the ladder altogether or ask your partner to do the work for you while you sit with your feet up and give instructions.
11 Vacuuming And Mopping
We’ve all seen the (rightfully so) fear-mongering news specials where they investigate what kind of stuff is festering in our carpets. And, we’ve all, in turn, promised to vacuum our homes basically twice a day every day for the rest of our lives. If you haven’t seen these specials, don’t Google it, it’s gross. It will make you want to rip up all the carpet in your home and walk around on plywood if you have to.
Unfortunately, mama, you’re going to need to ease up on the vacuuming (and mopping) during pregnancy.
According to Fit Pregnancy, the forward-leaning posture required for vacuuming and mopping can cause inflammation and irritation of the sciatica, which can equate to serious pain.
This doesn’t have any impact on the baby, but mom will be miserable. No one said the only reasons mom should rest are for the baby’s well-being, mom deserves some rest for herself, too!
If you can’t get your mind off the skin-cells accumulating in your cushy carpet, this is a good time to invest in a robotic vacuum, which will also come in handy once the baby comes and turns into a toddler who has absolutely no regard for the crumbs he leaves everywhere he goes.
10 Painting A Room
For any creative mom, one of the best parts about pregnancy is dreaming up and bringing to life her baby’s nursery. This is one of the few times decor can be over-the-top cute or when she can go crazy with glitter and pink and not have to worry her partner will complain it’s “too girly” (I’m looking at you, dear husband of mine).
Just take a second before you start taping off the room (mostly because you can easily get out of taping off the room, which is honestly the worst part of painting).
According to Pregnancy, Birth, and Baby, the risk of inhaling toxic chemicals from paint is low, but it’s still there and it is near-impossible to know the level of the risk.
If your home was built prior to 1971, you and your family may be at risk of lead paint disruption and exposure. This is absolutely something you want to steer clear of (pregnant or not) so bring in a pro to assess the situation. If you are in a newer home, it’s still best to avoid paint fumes throughout pregnancy as a whole, but if you must paint, wait until you’re through the first trimester to avoid any potential harm to the baby’s organ development.
9 Tasks Requiring Lots Of Sitting
This may come as a bit of a bummer to any woman who dreams of spending the majority of her pregnancy sitting on the couch binge-watching her favorite Netflix shows, but sitting for too long is not advised during pregnancy. The silver lining here is that the rule includes any home chores that typically require a lot of sitting (such as the boring administrative tasks that somehow fell on you simply because you’re an organized person).
According to researchers at Warwick Medical School (and reported by The Mirror), sitting for six or more hours a day in the second trimester runs the risk of greater weight gain and gestational diabetes, which in turn can lead to premature birth or other birth complications.
Additionally, the researchers also found that women who were more sedentary during their first trimesters reported more symptoms of depression.
So, whether you’re doing a lot of crafting with your toddler at the kitchen table or researching daycares, make sure you take a break to get up and walk around. Then, maybe walk yourself over to the couch to finish that season on Netflix because you did your due diligence and enjoying your downtime is just as important to your mental health as getting up and moving is.
8 Feng Shui: Moving Furniture
It’s so tempting to basically rearrange your entire house before you bring your new family member home. If it's not nesting that has you eager to channel your inner Joanna Gaines, it’s the fact that all of the sudden your home looks like one giant baby/toddler hazard. Chances are, if you are in this state, you are not rational enough to understand that your infant will not need child-proofing the minute he comes home because, well, he’s an infant and they don’t get into too much trouble.
Whatever it is that is leading you to want to play interior designer, fight it. As mentioned earlier lifting is a soft no. Do you want to know what is a hard no? Scooting, pushing, and pulling heavy objects.
You will still need to exert a lot of energy in order to push that Ikea dresser across the room, and honestly, it looks good on the wall it’s currently on anyway.
Not to mention, who hasn’t tried to move a dresser by pushing or pulling it only to have it accidentally tip over or have a lamp (that you didn’t take off first, because you are lazy) fall on your head? This is obviously a risk any time, but especially so during pregnancy.
Just do yourself, and your baby, a favor and skip the rearranging for now - or at least stick to just moving things around on the mantle until your partner can get home to help with the heavy stuff.
7 Anything Requiring Attention To Detail
Pregnancy brain is a thing. A good example of what its impact is on a woman is when she walks into a room, stands there and looks around, sighs, and walks out. What was she doing in there? That’s exactly what she was wondering because she knows she went in there with a purpose, but she cannot seem to remember what that purpose was. Now, take that scenario and add it to every aspect of her life for 40 weeks.
According to What to Expect, pregnancy brain is a real thing. It is essentially a combination of lack of quality sleep and hormones running amuck.
Your brain truly functions differently during pregnancy by increasing activity on the emotional side of the brain (leaving logic with far less activity than desired). What to Expect goes on to explain that your brain cell count decreases during your third trimester and doesn’t return to its normal state until a few months after giving birth.
So, use this to your advantage and avoid any home tasks that require attention to detail, because you don’t have it. If there is an important form to fill out, ask your husband to review it and show you where to sign. If you have important appointments or meetings, don’t rely on your memory, create a system to send you a reminder (or three) so that you make it on time.
6 Outdoor Maintenance In A Wet/Wooded Area
If you’re an outdoorsy gal, you may need to reign it in a bit on any maintenance in wooded or wet/muggy areas during pregnancy. As you are probably aware, those areas are crawling with bugs, literally. Bugs can carry a lot of diseases that may not do much normally but can cause serious problems in pregnancy. Remember when Zika was all over the news a couple of years ago? Well, even though we are no longer in a slow news cycle, Zika still a thing, and it is carried by mosquitoes. Zika can be passed along from mom to baby, and while mom may have flu-like symptoms, the baby may be born with serious birth defects.
Additionally, pregnant women are advised against using many of the effective bug sprays.
According to the non-profit organization, Kids Health, bug sprays including insecticides, pesticides, and repellents (containing DEET) are considered poison and pregnant women should steer clear.
Exposure to the poisons increases the risk of miscarriage, premature delivery, and/or birth defects.
If you must use a repellant for some reason, Kids Health suggests wearing clothes and applying the repellent to socks or clothes, but not on the skin. The best option, though, is to just stay out the woods as much as possible.
5 Wrangling the Toddler
If you’re expecting your second (or third..) baby now is the time to ask your partner to step up on the childcare responsibilities. You can, and should, of course still love on your toddler, but it is important to remember that those tiny humans are a bit unpredictable and don’t have the greatest track record with being practical and logical.
This can definitely be one of the harder things to give up as an expecting mom, especially as your due date approaches and you realize your attention will be split. It is bittersweet to grow the family, and you will likely want to soak up all the time you can before you bring in a second tiny human who can’t so much as hold up his own head without you.
Ask your partner to tag in if your toddler is getting rough (such as kicking you near the belly) or is throwing a tantrum that requires picking up a flailing body off the floor. If your toddler isn’t potty trained yet, maybe come up with some excuse as to why your partner should change all the diapers, too (I’m not sure how you can accomplish this, but if you do, please pass along tips to success).
4 Take The Great Dane For A Walk
So, a couple of a years ago, you weren’t quite ready for kids, but you wanted some responsibilities so you got yourself a puppy. Fast forward to today and that puppy has grown into a dog. More accurately, that puppy is the equivalent of a toddler-dog because somehow he’s still not leash-trained. If this scenario sounds familiar, and your toddler-dog is a larger one, it’s time to pass the dog-walking responsibility off to your husband.
According to the non-profit organization, Before Play, traumatic movements should be avoided during pregnancy.
Typically, these movements tend to be associated with high-impact workouts or maybe roller coasters, but walking a strong untrained dog can also jerk you around, or even knock you over. This poses an obvious risk to you and your baby (see the section on falls above).
If your dog walks are less walks and more the dog pulling you along, consider hanging up the leash. If you’re feeling guilty about it, ask around because there are always neighborhood kids looking for some extra money who would probably love to walk your dog. If not, this can give your partner some really great practice with patience and determination, which he will definitely need during those late-night feedings.
3 Playing Nurse For The Sick Toddler
Quick, name a human who is more disgusting and germ-infested than a toddler. I’ll wait.
If you responded with anything other than “there is no such thing”, I am genuinely worried about the people you surround yourself with. Toddlers are essentially Petri dishes full of germs. Their immune systems aren’t fully developed yet, and neither is their ability to properly blow their nose. If you’re really lucky, they may know how to wipe their nose, but it’s likely on their sleeve, or worse, yours.
So, if you’re pregnant and your little one is laying on the couch with a fever, let dad play nurse.
Not only are there a variety of viruses that can cause complications in pregnancy (chicken pox, for instance), but if you start to feel sick you can’t take much of anything to get you feeling better since most over the counter medicines are off-limits during pregnancy.
Your partner, on the other hand, can take all the decongestants, pain relievers, and stomach medicines as recommended by the drug manufacturer. So, if your sweet toddler passes her illness on to him, he can at least relieve the symptoms. That in itself is reason enough to let him step up and do the dirty work while you blow some healing-mommy-kisses from afar.
2 Prolonged Housework Of Any Kind
Whether it is laundry, mopping, dusting, scrubbing, or all of the above, if it’s going to take a while, it’s not requiring you to use much brain power, and it’s going to cause a significant amount of physical work you need to delegate some of the tasks to your partner. You can also break up with work a little bit, but this article is about how you need to rest, so let’s stick with the delegating tip.
According to the Daily Mail, “boring and repetitive work of any kind raises the risk of premature birth.”
In fact, research showed that women who were doing jobs (inside or outside of the home) that left them unsimulated increased their risk of premature birth by at least three weeks as much as 25%.
So, if you’re at home cleaning the toilets again and find yourself bored out of your mind, it’s fair to stop what you’re doing and ask your husband to get scrubbing so that you can go do something more stimulating “for the baby”. The article did not include any caveats to what that stimulation could be, so feel free to go finish up that episode of Grey’s Anatomy while he does the cleaning.
1 Anything Stressful
According to March of Dimes, and pretty much every other pregnancy article out there, moms-to-be should do anything in their power to avoid stress.
This is your Get Out Of Jail Free card. It is the one thing you can fall back on whenever there is a task that you don’t want to do. It’s great, too, because it is a mental/emotional feeling that shows little if any, physical signs so no one can accuse you of lying to get out of something. Not that we are advocating for lying, we’re not, we’re simply advocating for your right to relax as much as possible during pregnancy.
In all seriousness, though, high-stress situations can be risky for moms. Pregnancy itself stressful in general, and adding daily stressors (that can be avoided) creates the potential for premature birth. According to March of Dimes, researchers know that the stress hormone can trigger premature birth, but they aren’t entirely sure why. Additionally, many people self-medicate with drugs, alcohol, or other substance abuse during periods of high stress, and substance abuse of any kind is definitely not good for mom or baby.
So, if it stresses you out say no. That’s why you have a partner in pregnancy, after all.
References: today.com, cdc.gov, marchofdimes.org, livestrong.com, thebump.com, whattoexpect.com, fitpregnancy.com, pregnancybirthbaby.org.au, mirror.co.uk, whattoexpect.com, kidshealth.org, beforeplay.org, dailymail.co.uk, marchofdimes.org