OB-GYNs do their best to help moms-to-be and the little lives growing inside of them stay healthy and safe, but sometimes focusing on the essentials when it comes to a pregnant woman’s health crowds out other pieces of information that are extremely important.
According to ScientificAmerican.com, “A new nationwide survey of 2,600 obstetricians and gynecologists found that most do not warn their pregnant patients about chemicals in food, consumer products or the environment that could endanger their fetuses.”
Why? Dr. Jeanne A. Conry, an OB-GYN at Kaiser Permanente in Roseville, California, explains, “We’re worrying about preterm labor, obesity, and hypertension. Obesity trumps almost everything. We put our time and energy there, and don’t dwell on some of the other things we should be aware of.”
According to Dr. Jane Hightower, who practices internal meds in San Francisco, “To make ends meet, there are too many patients crammed into the schedule. Food science literature and environmental toxicant literature are difficult to sort out, and the doctors are not being taught about nutrition or contaminants in school.”
In short, OB-GYNs often focus on what they deem most crucial, and during pregnancy, they may not have adequate time, knowledge, or the proper resources to impart the ins and outs of what to avoid during pregnancy to their patients. Just in case the doc forgot to mention them, read on for 20 things OB-GYNs wish pregnant women would stop doing.
20 Writing Detailed Birth Plans
Professor Mary Higgins, consultant obstetrician at the National Maternity Hospital admits that birth plans can be helpful, but when they get too detailed, they won’t likely be followed, and can just lead a mom-to-be to be set up for disappointment when things don’t go as planned.
She explains, “People will often get birth plans from the internet, and they read stuff that’s happening...that we just don’t do. It seems as if there is a mismatch of the information—you’re getting a very unrealistic idea of what we do.” She does admit, however, that birth plans are “definitely useful” as long as people realize that they may not be followed if complications arise.
19 Changing The Kitty Litter
Pregnant women don’t need to give up their furry feline friends while expecting, but should take precautions when caring for pet cats in order to keep themselves and their unborn babies safe.
Pediatrician Jennifer Shu explains on BabyCenter.com, “[Women] can change the litter box safely [when] pregnant, but it’s better to have someone else do this chore if possible...The concern here is toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that can be transmitted through cat poop...If you get toxoplasmosis while you’re pregnant, it’s possible you could get sick and pass the illness on to your baby…[The disease] can cause serious birth defects and even miscarriage.”
18 Sitting Or Standing For Too Long
According to LiveScience.com, a new study out of The Netherlands suggests that standing for long hours during pregnancy could slow the growth of a fetus. Dr. Jill Rabin, an obstetrician and gynecologist at the North Shore Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y., tells pregnant women, “By all means keep working.”
However, she does warn that standing for too long is not advised and that sitting for long periods puts expecting women at a greater risk for developing clots and may compromise [plasma] flow to Baby. She concludes, “That’s why you have to mix it up.”
17 Wearing Stilettos
Medical professionals agree that may be a good idea to reconsider elevated footwear while expecting. According to BabyCentre.co.uk, “When you put your heels on, your posture changes slightly, putting more pressure on your back, and on your knee and ankle joints...You may also feel more clumsy while you’re pregnant. It’s common to feel dizzy sometimes, so being in high heels may not be the safest way to get around!”
Hilda Hutcherson, M.D., clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center told TheBump.com, “Early in pregnancy, heels aren’t a problem...but by the third trimester, wearing super-high heels can cause back pain. And yes, there’s a risk you could trip and hurt the baby.”
16 Not Sleeping
Baby kicks, heartburn, leg cramps, and anxiety can make sleep during pregnancy hard to come by. According to WhatToExpect.com, “Insomnia, or the inability to fall or stay asleep, can hit especially hard in the third trimester of pregnancy, when it’s estimated to affect more than 75 percent of expectant moms.”
What’s an exhausted pregnant lady to do? The site advises, “Sometimes, doctors recommend taking a magnesium supplement to combat constipation or leg cramps. If that’s the case for you, it makes sense to take it before bed, since magnesium has been touted for its natural muscle-relaxing powers and may help lull you to sleep.”
15 Heavy Lifting
While pregnant, it’s best to leave the heavy lifting to someone else. AmericanPregnancy.org states, “Women should avoid lifting heavy objects while pregnant. However, if you are going to lift any object, it is important to exercise caution. For some women, lifting heavy objects can lead to an increased risk of premature labor and low birth [size]."
The site continues, “Lifting an object incorrectly, whether heavy or not, can also result in a pulled muscle. A potentially severe complication from heavy lifting is a hernia...If you are worried about having to lift heavy objects at work or at home, it is best to talk to your doctor about these concerns to make sure it is safe.”
14 Eating Certain Foods
Pregnancy cravings can be all-consuming, but there are some foods moms-to-be should definitely avoid while buns are baking in their ovens. AmericanPregnancy.org states, “Eating well-balanced meals is important at all times, but it is even more essential when you are pregnant. There are essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that your developing baby needs. Most foods are safe; however, there are some foods that you should avoid during pregnancy.”
According to the site, foods to avoid while pregnant include raw meat, deli meat, fish with mercury, smoked seafood, fish shown to industrial pollutants, raw shellfish, raw eggs, soft cheeses, unpasteurized milk, pate, and unwashed vegetables.
13 Excessive Exercising
All OB-GYNs agree that exercising while pregnant is beneficial for both mom and baby. However, when a vigorous walk or jog around the block turns into hours sprinting on the treadmill, things go from permissible to dangerous. Expecting women with low-risk pregnancies should definitely get their heart-rates up if they feel up to it, but shouldn’t push themselves too hard.
According to Dr. Sarah Yamaguchi, an OB-GYN at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, “Pregnancy takes a large physical and mental toll on your body so you will likely not be able to exercise as much or as rigorously and you will likely need more sleep.”
12 Looking Symptoms Up Online
When in doubt, don’t Google it. Instead, ask a medical professional for advice. According to Yamaguchi, “A pregnant woman’s body does crazy things and I wish my patients were more open about asking when they have problems that are embarrassing. Being pregnant is stressful enough. It’s better to ask about something you think is abnormal instead of dwelling on it.”
Writer Victoria Clayton explains in her article for NBC News entitled The Pregnancy Panic Attack, “[With] all the new tests...and the increased access to sometimes dubious medical information or reports, pregnancy anxiety has drastically escalated. It has become so bad...Los Angeles obstetrician Dr. Stuart Fischbein...spends half his day not practicing meds but simply calming fears.”
11 Listening To Horror Stories
When it comes to pregnancy, horror stories abound, but it doesn’t do moms-to-be any good to listen to them. Clayton also admits in her article, “I couldn’t walk into my doctor’s office and pick up a magazine without reading the bad news that awaited my unborn child and me. Words like ‘ectopic pregnancy,’ ‘blighted ovum,’ ‘gestational diabetes’ and, of course, the most dreaded word of all ‘miscarriage’ popped out at me from magazines.”
Dr. Octavia Cannon, an OB-GYN at Arboretum Obstetrics & Gynecology in Charlotte, North Carolina told WhatToExpect.com, “Walk away from people who want to tell you pregnancy horror stories.” She stressed to the site that doing so is definitely “not helpful.”
10 Overdoing It On The Caffeine
While it may be painful, experts suggest it’s best to cut back on or completely eliminate caffeine while expecting. AmericanPregnancy.org states, “Although most studies show that caffeine intake in moderation is permissible, there are others that show that caffeine intake may be related to miscarriage. As a general rule, caffeine should be limited to fewer than 200 mg per day during pregnancy.”
The site continues, “It is important that [pregnant women drink] plenty of water, juice, and milk rather than caffeinated beverages. Some research shows that large amounts of caffeine are associated with miscarriage, premature birth, low birth [size], and withdrawal symptoms in infants. The safest thing is to refrain from consuming caffeine.”
9 Taking Certain Meds
According to FDA.gov, “There are about six million pregnancies in the U.S. each year, and 50% of pregnant women say that they take at least one [med]. Some women take [meds] for health problems, like diabetes, morning sickness or high [body] pressure that can start or get worse when a woman is pregnant. Others take [meds] before they realize they are pregnant.”
The site continues, “Not all [meds] are safe to take when you are pregnant. Even headache or pain [meds] may not be safe during certain times in your pregnancy... Always talk to your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist before you take any [meds], herbs or vitamins.”
8 Spending Time In Jacuzzis
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists warns that pregnant women should not spend time in Jacuzzis. According to AmericanPregnancy.org, “For many pregnant women, sitting in a [Jacuzzi] sounds like a great way to ease muscle aches related to pregnancy. It is important to use caution when choosing [a soak in warm water] for relaxation and pain relief. [Jacuzzis] cause hyperthermia, which is an abnormally high body temperature.”
The site continues, “A [warm] bath, which is not uncomfortable or scalding, is a safer way to relax. In a bath, much of your upper body will remain out of the water, making you less likely to overheat. Additionally, the water in a bath begins to cool off, as opposed to a [Jacuzzi], further reducing any risk of overheating.”
7 Unhealthy Vices
It goes without saying that some substances are much for harmful to a developing baby than others. Many vices can do major damage to an unborn baby if not kept in check while a woman is expecting. Even if it’s challenging, moms-to-be should do all they can to break bad habits that may affect the development of their babies.
My.CleavelandClinic.org states, “Pregnant women should remember that whatever they eat, [ingest] or drink is passed on to their baby and can affect the baby’s development. [Some substances] can be particularly harmful to a developing baby and may decrease its chances of survival.”
6 Painting The Nursery
According to Sara Twogood, M.D., assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at the Keck School Of Med. at University of Southern California in Los Angeles, “There is no clear evidence that exposure to paint is harmful to pregnancy, however, limiting unnecessary exposure to chemicals that aren’t well studied during pregnancy is always a good idea.”
“Paint is a general term referring to many diverse exposures and mixtures. This makes it difficult to define any specific dangers,” says Michael Cackovic, M.D., a maternal-fetal meds. physician at Ohio State University Wexler Medical Center. Even so, there isn’t really a “safe” trimester to paint according to Lisa Valle, DO, an OB-GYN at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica California.
5 Skipping Meals
According to TheBump.com, expecting women need approximately 340 additional calories during their second trimesters and an additional 450 calories or more during their third trimesters. They also need extra protein. Jennifer Ramos Galluzzi, Ph. D., explains, “You need the extra protein to support new cell growth in the fetus.”
For many women, eating right while pregnant is all about being informed. Kelli Hughes, R.D., a clinical nutritionist at the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville explains, “Most women I see tend not to be aware of the nutritional requirements of pregnancy, but they’ll happily do what is recommended once they know what to do.”
According to AmericanPregnancy.org, “Regardless of whether you are pregnant or not, exposure to the sun puts you at risk for premature aging and malignant melanoma (skin cancer).” So does adding to the pregnancy glow with a little fun in the sun harm your baby?
The site continues, “Some studies...link UV rays and folic acid deficiency. Folic acid prevents neural tube defects such as spina bifida and is especially important during the first trimester. During pregnancy, skin is more susceptible to burning and chloasma, the dark splotches that appear on the face during pregnancy. Speak to your healthcare provider about the safety of tanning beds during pregnancy.”
3 Traveling Late In Pregnancy
According to Frank A. Chervanak, M.D., chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology and director of maternal-fetal med. at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York City, “It is wrong to say a categorical ‘no’ when it comes to traveling while pregnant.”
Even so, he advises, “You need to individualize each and every situation. Discuss any travel with your doctor and see what he or she thinks. If your doctor is concerned, then you should be concerned and really [decide] whether the travel is necessary...The end of pregnancy is not the best time to take a safari.”
2 Playing Contact Sports
According to AmercianPregnancy.org, “Exercise, in general, is good for you and your developing baby. However, there are some activities that you should avoid during pregnancy to ensure your baby’s safety.”
The site continues, “Women who are pregnant are encouraged to avoid activities that may allow direct trauma to the abdomen. Contact sports pose a significant risk of trauma to the abdomen, therefore, it is recommended that you avoid contact sports during pregnancy.” Expecting women are also encouraged to avoid activities that present a risk of falling. These include ice skating, rollerblading, rock climbing, and skiing.
Ann Grauer, president of DONA International, an association representing doulas, has been a doula and birthing instructor for the past 16 years. She told NBCNews.com, “Within the last five years even I’ve seen pregnancy fear grow to [incredible] proportions.”
One new mom admitted to the site that all of her worrying was for nothing. She shared, “Most of what I worried about during pregnancy was stuff I dreamed up but never even happened — or if it did it wasn’t even a big deal. Now that I have my daughter, I think, what was I so worried about!? Look at her. She’s a miracle — just like all the other kids at the park or mall or Gymboree class.”
Sources: WhatToExpect.com, AmericanPregnancy.org, FDA.gov, NBCNews.com, Independent.ie, BabyCenter.com, WebMD.com, TheBump.com, BabyCentre.co.uk