What Is Safe For Pregnant Women: What To Do And What Not To Do During Pregnancy

When pregnant women are really excited about becoming moms, pregnancy can be a wonderful time. It is an exciting, but also stressful circumstance for most expectant mothers. There are so many warnings, from friends, relatives, television, and internet sources, and it is hard to know whom to listen to.

Expectant mothers are often surrounded by female friends and relatives eager to tell them what they should or should not do while pregnant. A doctor who is familiar with the specific case is always the best guide. In addition, it is vital that women listen to their own bodies. Cravings and feelings of sudden exhaustion may be happening for a reason.

Pregnant women should generally follow their food cravings and give in to the need for sleep whenever possible. The body knows what it needs. Pregnancy requires good nutrition and plenty of sleep. Discuss any unusual cravings with a doctor, especially cravings to ingest substances that are not food. These sort of cravings should not be followed, but may indicate a vitamin deficiency.

While pregnant bodies often know what they need, the doctor also has sound advice on the dangers of medications and the benefits and safety of light to moderate exercise for each specific woman. A woman’s doctor has specific advice, based on her overall condition and the progress of her pregnancy that is far superior to generalized advice found online. Still, women often eat, drink, and take common medications that could be risky out of habit without asking or even wondering if it is alright. It is important to check with a doctor before taking any kind of medication.

Pregnant women should know, most prescription medications, over the counter medication, street drugs, and alcohol are off the menu and even too much caffeine is thought to harm unborn babies. Medical experts are reluctant to label any medication as safe for use during pregnancy, simply because it is difficult to prove without a doubt that any substance is safe. Most mothers agree with the better safe than sorry philosophy put forth by all medical professionals. Benefits of medications must be weighed against possible risks. This kind of decision is best made by physicians and their patients because each case is different.

Can expectant mothers safely consume caffeine? The American Pregnancy Association says that moderate use of caffeine could be relatively harmless, but taking more than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day could lead to miscarriage and birth defects. Remember, caffeine is not only found in coffee but also in soda, many medications, and even tea.

Pregnant Woman by Alena Root c
[Image by Alena Root/Getty Images]

Does pregnancy preclude over the counter pain relievers? A recent study now shows that Tylenol, also sold under the generic name acetaminophen, could be linked to ADHD and other behavioral problems. For decades, acetaminophen has been considered safe for pregnant women.

Pregnant mothers in the study who took the pain reliever at between 18 and 32 weeks into their pregnancies run a 42 percent higher risk that their children will have behavioral issues before age seven. According to Fortune, though, 42 percent isn’t really that much when one is talking about 42 percent of just 5 percent of the children in the study. The study may not prove anything definitive considering over half of the women in the study took Tylenol. It is a matter of weighing risks and benefits, and this study isn’t proposing an especially high risk, but it should be considered.

Pregnant women must weigh any potential benefits of medications against the risks. They should ask their doctors before taking over the counter medications and avoid caffeine and alcohol as much as possible. Still, as Fortune points out, allowing a high fever to rage, increasing the mother’s core body temperature, poses far more risk than just taking a Tylenol. Inversely, a mild headache might be better treated with a nap, than a pill.

While alcohol, caffeine, and many medications should be avoided, pregnancy is no excuse to become physically inactive, at least with most normal pregnancies. Sometimes there are risk factors that preclude exercise, but these are the exception, not the general rule.

Pregnancy need not lead to inactivity in most women. Again, it is important to ask a doctor before engaging in any sort of activity level above moderate exercise. Still, most pregnant women can maintain an activity level similar to their usual daily activity level unless their doctors advise them not to, due to complications.

Prenatle care and advice can be vital by wavebreakmedia shutterstock c

Most pregnant women can and should walk 30 minutes to an hour each day. Keeping fit during pregnancy has great benefits for most women, and inactivity is far riskier than exercise unless there are complications or individual high-risk factors according to Fit Pregnancy.

“The real hazard is inactivity, which contributes to excess weight gain, high blood pressure, aches and pains, and a higher risk for Cesarean section and gestational diabetes.”

Pregnant Women should talk to their doctors before starting or continuing an exercise program. Often, a woman’s physician knows about certain risk factors peculiar to the patient and can advise best, taking those into consideration, rather than give the same advice to every mother.

However, pregnancy does pose special risks in conditions related to exercise. Pregnant women should always avoid getting overheated. An increased core temperature can harm the baby. Similarly, high fevers, hot baths, saunas and hot tubs are unsafe and can do harm to an unborn baby. Women should take care to stay hydrated and avoid excessively high temperatures, whether outside or in the bath according to Fit Pregnancy.

Pregnant women do face limitations, including the exclusion of exercises that require lying on their backs after the first trimester and doing anything that becomes painful or overly stressful. Expectant mothers should listen to their bodies and if they don’t feel like doing something, they should not push themselves. In addition, heavy physical work or exercises could endanger the baby, especially if the mother isn’t accustomed to that type of exercise. Again it is best to consult the doctor before taking on a new activity.

Pregnancy can seem limiting, but pregnant women should listen to their bodies and their doctors.

[Image via Wavebreak Media/Shutterstock]