The hit show Sex and the City coined the term “SSB” or “secret single behavior” for any actions done in secret or any act that one wouldn’t want their mate to witness. The same rings true for pregnancy behaviors. While pregnant, many women have SPB’s or secret pregnant behaviors—things they do while pregnant that they probably shouldn’t do.
Sometimes, these behaviors can be due to the fact that we were ignorant to the fact or just plain unaware that an action shouldn’t be done. However, there are other times when we know there may be a slight risk associated with a behavior, but we choose to take our chances anyway.
Whatever the case, below are a list of seven secret things you did during pregnancy, that you probably shouldn’t have done!
7 Worried about Gaining Weight
Ah, our old nemesis the scale. Many women have a love/hate relationship with their weight before pregnancy, and the concern often carries over during pregnancy. But as cliché as it sounds, it is true that you are no longer eating for just yourself—you’re now eating for two.
Because of this, getting a little heavier is common and is actually recommended. Of course, pregnancy weight gain is different for everybody, but most women gain between 25 to 30 pounds during their pregnancy. In fact, not gaining weight is usually a cause for concern.
So resist the urge to step on the scale daily (or multiple times daily) and remember that your weight gain is not in vain.
6 Ate The Wrong Foods
So we’re all guilty of it at some point in our pregnancy (many of us are guilty of it when we’re not pregnant), but eating the wrong foods can be both useless and harmful during pregnancy.
For example, doctors suggest that pregnant women avoid eating raw, unpasteurized cheeses and meats like deli meats or hot dogs. Pregnant women should heat deli meat to 145 degrees before eating in order to avoid a rare but dangerous food poisoning called listeriosis. Listeriosis can cause blood infections, meningitis, and other serious and potentially life-threatening complications for both mommy and baby.
In addition, many pregnant women are also guilty of eating certain types of fish that are high in mercury such as swordfish, king mackerel, fresh tuna, and sea bass. Consuming mercury during pregnancy has been linked to developmental delays and brain damage in fetuses.
Other fish and shellfish (including sushi made with these items) should be limited to twelve ounces per week because they can be contaminated with harmful bacteria and viruses.
Though it seems like common knowledge, one secret food behavior which should be nixed during pregnancy is eating junk food and fast food. Of course, this food is frowned upon even when you’re not pregnant, but during pregnancy it is extremely important to make sure you are getting the maximum nutrients possible.
When pregnant, your stomach size actually decreases as your baby bump increases. Junk food and fast food takes up too much room in your shrinking stomach and prevents you from getting the nutrients needed to support your and your baby’s health.
Finally, contrary to popular belief, you can have too much of a good thing. While taking supplements like prenatal vitamins and multi-vitamins are recommended, it is important to discuss your recommended daily amount with your healthcare provider to avoid overdosing on certain nutrients, particularly iron and calcium which can be toxic.
Signs of overdose include, but are not limited to: constipation, diarrhea, headaches, fatigue, and stomach pains. Remember to always talk to a healthcare provider regarding any questions or concerns you might have during your pregnancy.
5 Bed Rest
Wait. How can taking a load off possibly be something you shouldn’t do during pregnancy? Yes, the occasional lazy day is needed and well-deserved, but choosing to be on bed rest can be harmful to both you and your child. As a side note, this does not pertain to women who have been ordered to go on bed rest by their physicians. Always listen to your doctor first.
So how can too much rest have negative effects on you and your fetus? First things first, it puts you at risk for depression, muscle-loss, and a greater risk of diabetes and clots. For your unborn bundle of joy, it could mean a lower birth weight.
In the past, it was recommended that women refrain from too much physical activity, hence the emphasis on resting. However, the exact opposite is now recommended. So keep gardening, keep dancing around the house, and keep hitting the gym. The trick is to find the right level of activity for you and your baby.
4 Made Yourself Too Hot
While being too hot in terms of appearance is never a bad thing, being too hot in terms of body temperature is a no-go. If you are one who prefers warmer temperatures or despises cold weather you may be guilty of overheating. When humans are overheated, their body naturally releases sweat as a cooling mechanism.
Unfortunately for your fetus, they don’t have the ability to sweat so they rely on you for heating and cooling. Higher temperatures can raise a fetus’ temperature to dangerous levels, so it is important to try to keep your temperature below 101°F.
One of the most common (and most relaxing) behaviors that can cause your temperature to rise is the use of saunas and hot tubs. Sometimes all a gal wants to do is sit in comforting heat and let the stress of the day melt away. But it is important to be in touch with your body and to be aware of the risks of overheating.
Another common behavior that can cause overheating is working out. While exercise is encouraged during pregnancy, once again it is important to be aware of what your body is saying by using fitness devices that track everything from heart rate to internal body temperature.
Remember, you might not feel hot on the outside, but your internal temperature is what your fetus feels. So if your temperature surpasses 101°F, be sure to slow down, cool off, and resume when able.
Finally, if you reside in areas where you can fry an egg on the sidewalk during the spring and summer seasons, it is important to be mindful of your temperature when spending extended periods of time outdoors. Drink plenty of water to remain hydrated and plan earlier or later in the day when temperatures aren’t so excessive.
Some of the risks associated with overheating are dehydration, fatigue, and pre-term labor, so even if you partake in the occasional hot tub session or rigorous workout, remember to drink plenty of water and always pay attention to your body. It knows best.
3 Worrying Too Much About Appearance
Just like the next girl (and even the next guy), I like to look good. When I look good, I feel good and this should be no different during pregnancy. However, many women have been known to go to harmful lengths all in the name of beauty; and sometimes, these behaviors don’t stop during pregnancy.
Hair dying is another very controversial behavior during pregnancy. It is suggested that women abstain from dying their hair (at least during the first trimester) because there is a chance that the highly toxic chemicals found in semi-permanent and permanent hair dye can be absorbed through the skin.
The first twelve weeks of pregnancy are a major period of development for your baby, so even though there has been little evidence to support the dangers of hair dye, why take the chance? Instead, opt to have treatments done during the second trimester and choose safer treatments such as having color painted directly on the hair (instead of the scalp) and using gentler colors.
Another beauty regimen to avoid during pregnancy is use of tanning beds. Some argue that tanning beds present negative risks when you’re not pregnant and that they present even higher risks when you are. Not only are you at risk of developing skin cancer, but the harmful effects can also be passed along to your fetus.
In addition, lying on your back in a tanning bed for thirty minutes can restrict blood flow to your baby and also leave you feeling dizzy. With the risks associated with tanning, many suggest forgoing the amenity for nine months.
2 Caring for Animals
If you have furry (or not so furry) friends at home, you could be putting yourself in harm’s way just by loving on them. While pregnant, you are more susceptible to harmful toxins and bacteria associated with your pet. So even though you love them to bits, make sure to take precautions when interacting with them.
For example, it is not safe for pregnant women to clean a cat’s litter box due to the risk of developing toxoplasmosis, a disease that results from an infection from a parasite. If cleaning the litter box happens to be one of your favorite pastimes and you just can’t bear to let it go (sarcasm here), be safe and wear gloves to prevent exposure to dangerous parasites.
Our scaly friends can also put mom and baby at risk. Because lizards, iguanas, turtles, and snakes may transfer salmonella bacteria through their feces, it is important to always handle them using gloved hands and washing well afterwards.
1 Exposed Yourself to Toxins
Many times our secret behaviors during pregnancy can be due to the fact that we just aren’t aware that these behaviors can have harmful effects. Sometimes, we are aware of the risks but might view them as minimal risks. This is especially common when it comes to cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol.
Smoking during pregnancy can cause early birth and low birth weights in infants, making it more likely that the baby will be sick and require additional care and time in the hospital. The same is true for second-hand smoke, which is often overlooked but still presents a risk.
Again, the same is true for the use of both recreational and prescription drugs. No matter how common or how accustomed one is to the drug, it is always important to consult with a physician first as some drugs can cause developmental impairment for the baby and pregnancy complications for the mom.
One of the most debated topics as it pertains to what women eat and drink during pregnancy, is the use of alcohol and its effects on baby. While some like to unwind with a glass of wine at night, or enjoy their favorite blend with dinner, others feel that no amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy.
The jury is still out on this one, but to err on the side of caution is best as researchers have not been able to determine what is a “safe” amount of alcohol to consume while pregnant. Major risks associated with drinking excessive amounts of alcohol during pregnancy are birth defects such as physical abnormalities and mental retardation.
Remember, the placenta does not filter out harmful toxins and substances so be careful to only put into your body those things that will nourish and strengthen your fetus.