5 Things to Avoid While Pregnant
Long before discovering a “positive” on that pregnancy test, you became a mom. You are now carrying someone who is completely dependent on you for their survival. As you dream about the baby you will one day hold in your arms, it’s necessary to make good decisions to protect the child growing within you. Below are several things to avoid to ensure both the safety and proper development of your baby.
But let’s be real. Even if you know your family (and your children) better than anyone, you still want input. How do I survive the toddler years? How can I take my kids to the store without losing my mind? How do I make time for fun? And the kicker – How can I ensure I’m not permanently damaging my kids?
Parenting is hard. It’s exhausting and can often feel incredibly isolating. I read my way through mounds of parenting advice and still struggled with intense feelings of failure. I was discouraged until I stumbled upon the best parenting advice I’d ever received.
Yep. That’s it.
Sounds easy, but it’s the execution that’s challenging. Simply put, “Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’, and ‘no’ be ‘no’.” Consistency takes intentionality, determination, and follow-through. It takes discipline and sacrifice. But over time, I began to recognize the positive effects of consistency, not only during the toddler years but for my teenagers as well.
How does consistency work? If your child asks for a treat or a toy when you’re at the store, you, as the parent, get to decide whether the answer is “yes” or “no”. (Side note: “Yes” is fine, but “no” is too! It’s important for children to learn life lessons, like “You can’t always have what you want.”) But be prepared. Depending on the personality or temperament of your child, a “no” might signify the start of an epic battle, a dramatic meltdown, or a simple shrug of the shoulders in acceptance. Whatever the outcome, do not change your answer. Please hear me. This is important. If your child’s behavior results in a change from you – inconsistency – then you will soon find you’re bowing down to your little tyrant’s every whim and fancy and negotiating for good behavior rather than rewarding it.
It’s also okay to say, “Let me think about it.” One of my children masterfully demands answers, often when I’m busy or distracted. Once I’ve decided, I know must stay consistent to my word. But sometimes I need some time to just think and I can’t always do that on a “time crunch”. So, if the child persists, a simple reminder that the answer will be an automatic “no” usually serves to squelch his badgering. Take your time, make a decision, and stick to it!
Lastly, find some cheerleaders, or be that person, for moms everywhere who are standing in the checkout line beside a howling child. Remind them, “You’re doing a great job, Mom! Way to be consistent!”a
- Alcohol – No amount of alcohol is safe to drink during pregnancy. Not only does alcohol increase the chance of premature delivery, but it causes Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. This can range in severity from death, low body weight, hyperactivity, speech and language delays, learning disabilities, and physical issues.
- Caffeine – There has been some debate about whether consuming caffeine can increase your risk of miscarriage. Most experts agree that drinking one cup of coffee per day is safe for pregnant women. Thankfully, you don’t have to give up that morning coffee! But reducing or eliminating caffeine from your diet during pregnancy is a healthy decision. Caffeine is a stimulant and can increase both your heart rate and blood pressure. Caffeine is also a diuretic, causing you to urinate more frequently and could cause dehydration.
- Raw meat – Avoid eating raw or undercooked meats, as these increase the risk of contracting parasites, like toxoplasma, that can lead to sickness and other serious complications, such as blindness and learning disabilities. Carefully washing your hands after handling raw meat, keeping other foods separate, and cooking meat completely helps eliminate the risk of getting toxoplasmosis.
- Mercury – Most fish is are loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids, which benefits baby’s brain development. But some types of fish have a higher level of mercury, which has been linked to birth defects. It is important to avoid fish such as king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, tilefish, and bigeye tuna while pregnant. Limit white (albacore) tuna to 6 ounces a week.
- Listeria – Pregnant women have a higher chance of contracting listeriosis, an illness caused by bacteria in foods such as unpasteurized (or raw) milk and milk products (like soft cheeses), hot dogs and lunch meats, pates or meat spreads, refrigerated smoked seafood, and raw or undercooked eggs and meat. While antibiotics can treat listeriosis, left untreated or undiagnosed it can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and premature delivery. Avoiding raw and undercooked foods, as well as properly reheating meat is important in reducing the risk of listeriosis.
While it’s good to be aware of what foods to avoid during pregnancy, it’s also important to know what foods to eat! Read more about the 5 foods you SHOULD be eating while pregnant here.
And for additional information check out the FDA’s Guide on Food Safety for Moms-to-Be.
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