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A Healthy Pregnancy : Lifestyle Hazards

- 9 Bad Habits That Can Cause Miscarriage
- How to have natural miscarriage
- Foods That Cause Miscarriage
- Signs Proving You Have Boy Pregnancy
Pregnancy can be beset with anxiety about potential hazards. Being aware of exactly what to avoid will help to allay fears.

Whether you’re pregnant or are planning to conceive, now is the time to do a safety check on your social habits and home and work environment. Anything that could affect your well-being could affect your baby too, especially in the first trimester. However, don’t become overly anxious. Instead, arm yourself with the facts so that you can avoid hazards, but also relax and enjoy your pregnancy.

Your social habits

The decision to have a baby may inspire you to review your social habits and, if necessary, make changes.

Alcohol consumption

Alcohol consumption You should stop drinking alcohol while trying to get pregnant and once you’re pregnant according to the US Surgeon General. There is no known safe consumption level for pregnant women, so abstaining from drinking is the safest option. What isn’t in doubt is the damage caused to the fetus by excessive alcohol intake. Continuous heavy drinking in pregnancy can lead to a condition known as fetal alcohol syndrome. The effects of this include retarded growth, facial and joint abnormalities, and heart problems.

If you drank in the weeks before you knew you were pregnant, try not to worry, but stop now. Many women also decide to give up alcohol while they’re trying to conceive to optimize fertility.

Smoking

Ideally, you should stop smoking before you get pregnant. If you’re still smoking once you conceive, try to stop right away. If your partner or friends smoke, ask them not to smoke in your home or anywhere near you. Inhaled cigarette smoke interferes with the supply of oxygen to the baby, which can lead to a low birthweight and increases the risk of stillbirth or the death of a baby in the first month of life.

Recreational drug use

In addition to damaging your own health, recreational drugs are not advised in pregnancy since some pose dangers for the fetus and others carry a range of possible hazards.

Heroin and cocaine are damaging both to a pregnant woman and her unborn baby. These drugs stunt fetal growth, affect the placenta, and can cause miscarriage or premature birth, as well as health problems in the newborn. Babies born to women who use heroin often show drug withdrawal symptoms. A report on ecstasy linked the use of this in pregnancy to a rise in birth defects, such as limb abnormalities. The specific effects on the fetus of amphetamines and LSD are unclear, but it’s safest to avoid them.

The direct effects on the fetus of the active chemicals in marijuana are not clear, but smoking the drug involves the same risks as tobacco smoking.

Hazards at home

Many of us use chemicals daily in and around the home. In addition to personal products, such as bath oils, deodorants, and hairsprays, we also keep dozens of other substances around the home, including cleaning fluids, detergents, bleach, and air fresheners.

When products are used in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions, there is little chance of them causing harm in pregnancy. However, minute traces of chemicals can enter the bloodstream, either through the skin or by inhalation, and cross the placenta. While there is no hard evidence to show that this has an ill effect, it makes sense to minimize the chances of chemicals from reaching a developing baby.

When using products, wear rubber gloves to prevent skin contact and ventilate rooms. To avoid inhaling mists or vapors, choose nonaerosol products. Also, choose products recommended for their low environmental impact, which contain fewer chemicals. Where possible, use natural alternatives to chemicals.

Wearing rubber gloves when using household cleaning products will reduce your exposure to chemicals.

Painting and decorating

It’s important to stay safe while doing home projects. Don’t climb up ladders or stand on tables to reach high places since your belly alters your center of balance. Also avoid skin contact or inhalation if you use oil-based paints; spray paints; paint strippers; floor varnishes; and sealant adhesives. Make sure rooms are well ventilated while decorating, and, ideally, get someone else to do the decorating.

Opt for “greener” paints and keep rooms ventilated while decorating.

Pets and infections

Certain infections that could harm the fetus can be picked up from pets. The parasitic infection toxoplasmosis is spread through contact with cat feces. It may produce flulike symptoms, or no symptoms at all, and many unknowingly acquire immunity through previous exposure. However, although it rarely happens, contracting toxoplasmosis for the first time in pregnancy can cause serious problems, such as miscarriage or birth defects. Other pets, such as dogs, caged birds, and turtles can carry salmonella bacteria. Salmonella infection doesn’t directly harm the baby, but can make a pregnant woman ill.

Being scrupulous about hygiene helps you avoid such infections. Wear rubber gloves when handling a cat litter box, cleaning cages where animals are kept, or disposing of dog feces, then wash your hands (and the gloves) afterward. Wear gloves also for digging or weeding in case animals have defecated in the garden. Or get someone else to do these tasks.

Toxoplasmosis and salmonella can also be contracted from eating undercooked or raw meat or eggs, so be careful with kitchen hygiene and cooking.

Workplace hazards

It’s the legal responsibility of your employer to provide a safe environment. In pregnancy, being aware of your rights can help protect you and your baby.

In recent decades, women worried about whether working at a computer screen put their babies at risk. It’s now clear that using a VDT (as well as photocopiers and printers) is safe. Some environments do pose possible dangers. If you work in a health-care setting with ionizing radiation or cancer-treatment drugs, inform your department that you’re pregnant, so that if necessary, you’re given alternative duties.

Women employed in places such as hairdressers, manicure salons, labs, and craft workshops may be exposed to toxic chemicals. Working around some dry cleaning solvents has been linked to miscarriage. It’s up to employers to ensure protection from hazards. If you’re unhappy about conditions, talk to your boss or HR manager.

Standing on your feet all day and physical work that involves heavy lifting can be exhausting in pregnancy. If your work involves either of these, ask if it’s possible to switch to less tiring tasks.

If your job involves handling chemicals, ensure that a risk assessment is done and that you are able to avoid harmful substances.

Q: Is it safe to use a cell phone during pregnancy? I’ve read that phones emit radiation.
A: The radiation emitted by cell phones is “non-ionizing.” This is not the same as the radiation received from X-rays, which can be harmful in large doses. There is no evidence to show that using a cell phone is a health risk to either you or your baby.
Q: I go swimming twice a week and love the feeling of having the weight taken off my belly! But is the chlorine in the pool bad for my baby?
A: In the past there has been some debate about whether it’s safe to swim in chlorinated pools during pregnancy. However, now most experts believe that swimming in chlorinated water does not pose any health risks for pregnant women and their developing babies. You may find that the smell of chlorine might add to your nausea if you are suffering from morning sickness, although this is less of a problem in an outdoor pool. Try not to swallow the water, and shower when you come out of the pool. Swimming has great benefits during pregnancy. It has a low risk of injury while providing a good cardiovascular workout and improving muscle tone, so don’t be put off by unnecessary worries.
Q: Is it OK to use nicotine patches or gum while I’m pregnant?
A: Nicotine is known to decrease the blood supply to the fetus. This could affect the baby’s growth, especially in early pregnancy. Although tobacco substitutes such as patches, gum, and lozenges deliver less nicotine to your body than smoking, you should never use them without a doctor’s advice. Ask your doctor for information on safer ways to beat cigarette and nicotine cravings.
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