When I got pregnant with my first, I fully expected my OB to hand me some kind of official tome on what to avoid — a bible of don'ts. But instead, I felt like I was out there in the wild, hunting and pecking for morsels of information. I asked friends who had become mothers before me and I scoured baby forums for guidance. I even emailed my OB a list of cosmetics to get her opinion on their safety profiles. It's stressful! If you're pregnant, here's a helpful list of things you should avoid when you're pregnant, that you'd never expect.
When I look back on my browser search history for when I was pregnant, it's almost comical. Are cough drops ok to take while pregnant? Can you ride a bike while pregnant? How much caffeine is in a Starbucks Chai? Can the foot massage you get during a pedicure cause pre-term labor? And on and on it went. Was I a bit neurotic? Of course! But growing a human being is a freakin' big deal, and it's hard to navigate the uncharted terrain that is pregnancy.
So if you've ever wondered if there were foods and activities to avoid while pregnant that you might be missing, then this list is for you. Here are six things to skip when you have a bun in the oven.
1. Some Salad Dressings
In my first trimester, the absolute last thing I wanted to eat was a salad. But as I got further along in my pregnancy, I definitely craved a good Caesar once in awhile — for the croutons, mostly. Yet, one day after eating a delicious Kale Caesar from my local salad shop, I remembered in a panic that Caesar salad dressing often contains raw eggs — and raw eggs are a big pregnancy no-no. It was a wake-up call to always inquire ahead of time about dressing ingredients.
"Avoid any dressings that contain raw egg, such as some Caesar dressings, because of the risk of salmonella," according to Livestrong. "Some types of food-borne bacteria, such as salmonella, can cross the placenta and harm your baby."
Additionally, you'll want to steer clear of salad dressings that have unpasteurized cheese (think: bleu cheese dressing). "There are plenty of brands that are pasteurized, but typically the really good blue cheese dressing (sold in the produce section & refrigerated) is a no go," according to What to Expect.
2. Getting Sunburned
When you're pregnant and exhausted, there's nothing better than kicking back poolside, but it's important to make smart sun choices, like lathering on the SPF and not staying in the sun too long. That's because while getting a little too pink isn't directly harmful to your baby, the effects of a sunburn certainly can be.
"While sun exposure doesn't directly affect your bun in the oven, sunburns can crank up that oven's temperatures," said Joanne Stone, M.D., director of maternal fetal medicine at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, to Fit Pregnancy. Getting sunburned can raise your core temperature, and "elevated core temperatures during pregnancy have been linked to birth defects," according to the site.
Additionally, if you were in the sun long enough to get burned, you might also be suffering from dehydration, according to Livestrong.
"Dehydration during pregnancy can lead to serious pregnancy complications, including neural tube defects, low amniotic fluid, inadequate breast milk production, and even premature labor. These risks, in turn, can lead to birth defects due to lack of water and nutritional support for your baby," cautioned the American Pregnancy Association.
3. Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice
I craved orange juice throughout my pregnancy (and I loved how it made my baby extra kicky!), but I had to stop buying the freshly squeezed kind because it was unpasteurized.
"Orange juice labeled “fresh-squeezed” or “chilled” may be unpasteurized, which means it could carry bacteria that may cause food-borne illness... To be safe, choose frozen concentrate, canned or cartons of juice that have “pasteurized” on the label," according to Livestrong. Or, take some fresh oranges and squeeze them yourself!
4. Some Essential Oils
I'm obsessed with essential oils — I love using a few drops of lavender in a diffuser to make my bedroom smell spa-like, and rubbing peppermint oil onto my temples when I feel a headache coming on.
But, sadly, some essential oils are not copacetic during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. "Essential oils could cause uterine contractions or adversely affect your baby in his early developmental stages, Jill Edwards, N.D., explained in an interview with Fit Pregnancy.
5. Sitting for Too Long
Sitting for long periods of time puts you at increased risk for developing deep vein thrombosis, which is not something to take lightly.
"Especially on longer flights, women who are pregnant, just by nature of being pregnant, are at an increased risk of getting clots in their legs which can travel to their lungs, which can be life-threatening. If you are sitting for long amounts of time, you're increasing that chance. So when on flights, or even in a car for long amounts of time, we ask our patients to stop every hour, or every hour and a half, to get out and stretch their legs," explains Dr. Erin Duncan, MD, MPH of Atlanta Gynecology and Obstetrics, in a previous interview with Romper.
6. Processed Foods
Pregnancy can lead to all sorts of cravings but it turns out indulging every last one of them may be a bad idea. Eating lots of processed food can lead to an unexpected consequence: iodine deficiency.
"As consumption of processed foods has increased, so has iodine deficiency because the salt in processed foods is not iodized," according Healthy Women.
What happens if you're iodine deficient while pregnant? It's not good. "A landmark study of 1,000 families in south-west England, published in The Lancet in 2013, showed that pregnant mothers who were deficient in iodine were more likely to have children with learning difficulties," reported The Guardian.
While it's easy to second guess your every move during the 40 long weeks of pregnancy, rest assured, you're not alone. When in doubt about eating this or doing that, reach out to your OB or your go-to mom friend. That added assurance can be just what you need.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.