Top Doctors & Experts Weigh in on What NOT to Do When Pregnant
The list of things that women should and shouldn’t eat or drink or do during pregnancy can be confusing and hard to keep track of. Nothing is more important to an expectant mom than the health and safety of her unborn child. Fortunately, you can protect your baby by avoiding risks that can complicate a pregnancy or cause harm to your baby. To help you with all the pregnancy don`ts we asked top physicians, nutritionists and fitness experts to create a list of things moms-to-be should avoid during pregnancy.
Bumps in Pumps: A Fashion Faux Pas
Sky-high heels aren’t the first thing we usually think of when it comes to maternity attire, but in Hollywood celebrities are choosing fashion over comfort – and perhaps even safety – so that they don’t have to give up their Jimmy Choos.
“The comfort of high heels is questionable under any circumstances, but when you’re pregnant the question of health and safety become important factors,” says Dr. Ezriel Kornel, a principal surgeon at of Brain & Spine Surgeons of New York and assistant clinical professor at the Cornell University School of Medicine. “Some studies show that high heels can flatten the back and by making the center of gravity higher in the body. As a result, it puts more stress on the lower back which can lead to earlier deterioration of the discs.”
The arguments against heels during pregnancy usually amount to (1) you`re more likely to fall and harm two people instead of one, (2) heels put undue pressure on your lower back, leading to lower-back pain, and (3) feet can change up to two sizes during pregnancy, which means having to buy all new shoes unless you plan to really suffer by stuffing your swollen toes into pointy pumps.
Dr. Kornel adds, “If high-heels do result in back aches related to changes in the center of gravity, this would be amplified in the third trimester of pregnancy because of the postural adjustments that need to be made to compensate for the excess forward weight. Of course, additional weight always adds stress to the joints and discs of the lower back as well as all the joints in the legs and feet.”
You’re Eating for Two…Sort Of
Although a healthy dietary lifestyle benefits everyone, it offers exceptional benefits during pregnancy. Developing healthy eating habits when you’re pregnant will set the stage for your baby to grow into a strong child and adult, as well as ultimately reduce the risk for certain diseases. Scientific research increasingly shows that a prenatal diet rich in nutrient-dense foods is key in preventing heart disease, diabetes, obesity and many types of cancer.
“Keeping track of all the advice you receive about the foods you should and shouldn’t eat while pregnant can be overwhelming,” says Dr. Sue DeCotiis,
New York City based Medical Internist and weight loss management specialist.
“Pregnant women require 300 extra calories from healthy and nutritious sources. Avoid eating high-fat and high-sugar foods, which have no nutritional value and can lead to excess weight gain.”
Due to the high mercury content of many fish, especially larger older fish, the following should be avoided by pregnant women: swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tilefish. “Mercury can harm the developing neurological system of the baby. Some mercury is also present in canned tuna fish so no more than 12 oz. per week should be consumed,” warns Dr. DeCotiis. Other fish that can be eaten in moderation are: shrimp, crab, tuna steak, salmon, catfish, cod and tilapia. Avoid raw and uncooked seafood such as salmon tartare and clams on the half shell.
Soft cheeses such as Camembert, Brie and goat cheese are often not pasteurized and could contain dangerous bacteria called Listeria; it has the potential to cause miscarriages. “Also check that all milk products and fresh juices are pasteurized,” says Dr. DeCotiis.
Fruits & Veggies
Thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables before consuming as they could be harboring bacteria on their surfaces as they could carry toxoplasmosis from the soil in which they were grown.
Do not consume raw or rarely cooked meats, which may be contaminated with bacteria. Packaged deli meat such as bologna and turkey roll are processed and could contain Listeria.
The CDC estimates that 2.2 million eggs in the U.S. are contaminated with salmonella. “Any food such as eggnog and Caesar salad dressing made with raw eggs is a big no-no for pregnant women,” says Dr. DeCotiis. “Most eggs are pasteurized but better to be overcautious!”
How to Lose Weight After Pregnancy
Are all celebrities magically blessed with amazing weight loss powers allowing them to wear their skinny jeans only weeks after giving birth? It sure feels that way when you see photos of Jessica Alba, Miranda Kerr and Kristen Cavallari getting back to their gorgeous pre-baby bodies in less than 4 months. That’s a lot of pressure for the average new mom. “Women should know that their pre-baby body is within their reach, but expecting it to happen in less than 3 or 4 months is a bit too drastic and unrealistic,” says Isabel De Los Rios, nutritionist and co-founder of www.beyonddiet.com “What many women don’t realize is that some celebrities take extreme and drastic measures to lose their excess weight fast after giving birth. The good news is, with the right healthy approach, your pre-baby body is easier to attain than you may think, without any crazy and dangerous diet schemes.”
1. Monitor your weight gain during your pregnancy. According to the American Pregnancy Association, a healthy weight gain during pregnancy is 25-35 pounds total. This amount ensures that both baby and mommy are gaining the adequate amount to support a growing baby and increased nutritional needs of the mother. Pregnancy is not a time to diet, but focusing on clean and natural foods is essential. Eating a balanced diet of naturally raised protein, healthy fats, and wholesome whole grains, fruits and vegetables will give you the right amount of nutrition you need to support your growing baby’s needs. There is no need to go low carb, calorie count, or eliminate entire food groups during this time. Feed your body wholesome foods in the right proportions to stay within the 25-35 pound range for weight gain.
2. Breastfeed. Breastfeeding comes with a long list of wonderful health benefits for your baby. But the biggest health benefit for you is weight loss. Breastfeeding will burn an extra 300-500 calories, assisting many women in shedding their extra baby pounds rather quickly. As with your pregnancy, this is not a time to diet. You want to be sure you’re giving your body all the tools it needs to make enough milk for your growing baby. Those “tools” are the vitamins and minerals from wholesome foods. The same list of quality healthy foods you ate during your pregnancy are perfect choices for when you are breastfeeding.
3. Give yourself a realistic time frame. “Remember, it took your body 9 months to grow your beautiful baby, give yourself at least 6 months to get back to a healthy weight for you,” advises Isabel. “If you stayed within the recommended 25-35 pounds, this should not be a difficult goal at all.” Focusing on a diet of natural proteins, healthy fats, whole grains, vegetables and fruits, in sensible portions will get your back to your pre baby weight without having to resort to extreme or dangerous dieting tactics.
Exercises to Avoid When Pregnant
Exercising when you`re pregnant benefits both you and your baby. Working out regularly improves circulation, helps regulate your internal organs, strengthens your muscles to better carry added weight, stabilizes your joints, and boosts your mood. “It goes without saying that you first need to choose an exercise program that is safe and appropriate for your stage of pregnancy,” says Burr Leonard, fitness expert and founder of The Bar Method. “Doctors consider twenty weeks a good point at which to start modifying your exercise routine to better accommodate your growing belly and heightened metabolism.”
Here are some definite don`ts for making your pre-natal workouts after those 20 weeks as safe and effective as possible:
1. Avoid intense aerobic exercise that goes on longer than a half-hour. You don`t have to wimp out of intense exercise altogether, but don`t choose sustained aerobic workouts that could over-heat your body.
2. Take a break from high impact sports while you`re carrying your baby. Running, for example, can shift your baby so that it sits lower in your belly, which can make the last months of your pregnancy uncomfortable.
3. Avoid extreme stretches. Your ligaments, which act to stabilize your joints, loosen during pregnancy, and over-stretching can destabilize them farther. What`s more, the center of your body, which is housing your baby, no longer possesses much range of motion. Accept this state of affairs, and wait until post-baby to resume twisting yourself into knots.
4. When you do exercise, substitute other stretches for the following ones:
a. Spinal twists. Instead, do a "straddle" stretch (sitting on the floor and extending your legs outwards) with straight or bent legs in a diamond shape.
b. Splits. Skip splits altogether during the latter months of your pregnancy. Your loosening ligaments make this stretch hazardous for the joints in your pelvis. Stick with the “hamstring stretch position,” kneeling on one knee with your other leg stretched on the floor in front of you, then folding forward at your hips.
c. Cobra. Substitute a "cat stretch," coming onto your hands and knees in a crawling position, then rounding your back and returning it to neutral (don`t arch in this position).
In the Clear: Acne During Pregnancy
Are your friends saying you have that pregnancy glow? It`s only one of many skin changes you may experience during pregnancy due to hormonal changes including acne. Similar to an adolescent going through puberty, there are higher levels of hormones in the body when you are pregnant. These hormones cause an increase of oil production in the skin and can lead to break outs. Typically, the surge of hormones occurs during the first trimester and starts to improve during the second trimester.
What acne treatments should you avoid?
“Some acne medications, in particular, come with a high risk of birth defects to the developing fetus or a child that is being breastfed,” says Dr. Rebecca Baxt, a New Jersey/New York based board-certified dermatologist. Here are medications Dr. Baxt recommends say to avoid:
1. Isotretinoin. The birth defect risks are so high, women of childbearing age must be on two forms of birth control while on the treatment
2. Hormone therapy, such as estrogen and the anti-androgens flutamide and spironolactone
3. Oral tetracyclines, such as antibiotics tetracycline, doxycycline and minocycline
1. Tretinoin (Retin-A)
2. Adapalene (Differin)
3. Tazarotene (Tazorac)
4. Salcylic acid, which is found in many over-the-counter products
Mommy Beauty: Skincare Ingredients, Products & Beauty Treatments to Avoid When You’re Expecting
When you get pregnant, your beauty regimen, like eating and exercising, takes on a whole different meaning. “Most women when pregnant, turn into health junkies and maintain the best lifestyle, diet and fitness routine to ensure a safe pregnancy,” says Dr. Nicole Mathis, a board-certified dermatologist in Austin, Texas. “Women easily give up on alcohol and smoking and anything else that might be harmful for their little bundle of joy. However, we generally forget that the beauty products we use also might affect pregnancy and the health of the baby.” Research studies have shown that the effects of mother’s chemical exposure may permeate the placenta, affecting the chances of a healthy and normal baby, especially in the first trimester. Although there are no conclusive reports to isolate beauty products that might cause miscarriages or birth defects it is always better to err on the side of caution.
Skip the Hair Salons for Now
Hair products when applied on your scalp have a minimal risk of being absorbed into the skin. However, chemicals from hair products used in hair coloring, hair straightening and hair sprays may include p-phenylenediamine whose high exposure has not only been linked to reproductive toxicity but it is also considered a neurotoxin.
Scented cosmetics and perfumes
Most cosmetic products use fragrances to hide the unpleasant smells of their chemical constituents. What the companies fail to tell us is that these fragrances use phthalates as carriers. Phthalates can imitate the hormones responsible for the growth and development of the fetus and unnatural levels of these hormones could be dangerous. Even if a perfume has a dangerous phthalate as its ingredient it might not be listed on the label due to the laws, which protect the secret formulation of fragrances.
Anti-aging products like wrinkle control creams have retinoids as their ingredient, which helps the breakdown of collagen. Retinoids with vitamin A when used in large quantities can cause dangerous levels of Vitamin A for the baby. Anti-aging products also contain parabens, which can disrupt the body’s hormone systems.
Although DHA (Dihydroxy Acetone) used in chemical tanning is approved and is considered safer than Suntanning (which can cause cancer), it is still not clear whether inhalation of the spray particles is harmful or not. There are clinical studies to suggest that DHA might be mutagenic and cause DNA damage. Tanning beds are also a strict no-no as the elevated temperatures can cause fetal damage.
Many nail products like nail polishes, cuticle strengthener, polish removers etc. have Toluene and Formaldehyde in their ingredient list. Toluene is an industrial solvent, which poses reproductive toxicity and can cause brain cell damage. Formaldehyde is a preservative and hardener, which has been linked to cancer and developmental toxicity. Nail products can cause fetal damage because your hands come directly in contact with what you eat, which goes into your bloodstream.
Between the morning sickness and sleepless nights, there could be plenty to frown about during pregnancy – but should you get Botox to smooth out frown lines? The decision to undergo any cosmetic treatment while pregnant should always be made by your doctor, who must determine if the benefits outweigh any potential risks. “The decision to undergo any cosmetic treatment while pregnant should always be made by your doctor, who must determine if the benefits outweigh any potential risks,” says Dr. Richard Chaffoo, a triple board-certified plastic surgeon in San Diego. “Even though Botox is injected into specific targeted areas, general consensus is to stay away from Botox while pregnant, it is not worth the risk.”
A chemical peel involves different types of acids applied to the surface of your skin to exfoliate the top layers and to improve the tone and textures of the skin – but are they safe during pregnancy? “Superficial peels such as lactic and glycolic acid are very safe, but should not be done during pregnancy secondary to unknown risks regarding absorption of chemical products into the bloodstream and potential exposure to the baby,” advises Dr. Chaffoo. In addition, he suggests staying away from fillers until after pregnancy. “Restylane and Juvederm are localized injections of a natural hyaluronic acid fillers to smooth out deeper lines and furrows,” he says. “These are likely safe during pregnancy, but usually unnecessary as the face typically plumps up on its own while pregnant! Best to stay away from any injections during pregnancy as the safety has not been proven.” A good alternative treatment that is non-invasive, has little to no downtime, and will provide the mother with a relaxing, spa-like experience, is the HydraFacial™. Leaving the skin supple, smooth and rejuvenated, the immediate results are long lasting.
A woman’s life changes significantly the moment she becomes pregnant. Aside from hormonal influences and the extra bodily stresses of being pregnant, she now has to act with increased awareness, as every action effects not only her, but her soon to be born child as well. “The extra efforts of the mother to take care of herself during these nine months can reduce some of the undesirable symptoms of pregnancy, increase the ease of giving birth, speed recovery after birth, and most importantly; give a better state of health to the baby,” says Pacific Fertility Center’s Dr. Carolyn Givens, board-certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She adds, “Taking care during pregnancy will reassure and strengthen the growing baby, give the baby a better start on life and prevent physical and mental health problems from manifesting later in the child’s life.”
1. No Hot Tubs. One study suggested a higher risk of miscarriages in women who reported frequent hot tub use. If you enjoy a hot bath, no more than a 10-minute soak if you like your baths very hot.
2. Avoid Stress. Stress is harmful to us in many ways so it makes sense that stress hormones may not be good for fetuses as well. Stress from daily life can be hard to avoid. Counteract stress with exercise, yoga or meditation.
3. Get A lot of Zzzzzz’s. Seven to eight hours a night, minimum . This one is really easy to do and should be a habit that is kept religiously.