7 Surprising Things That Can Affect Your Pregnancy
If you’re pregnant or planning a pregnancy, you probably already know about the negative effects that alcohol, tobacco, and unhealthy eating can have for you and your growing baby. But other things in your everyday life can affect your pregnancy, too. Here are seven to keep in mind:
1. Dental care: Don’t skip it. More than half of mothers-to-be skip dental work. But keeping up with teeth cleanings, dental exams, and routine dental work under local anesthesia is safe during pregnancy. In fact, keeping your teeth and gums healthy may reduce the amount of cavity-causing bacteria you pass along to your baby after birth.
2. Pets: Know when to be cautious. Spending time with furry four-footed companions during pregnancy could reduce your child’s risk for some allergies later on. But be careful with some pets and pet-care chores. For instance, have someone else clean the cat’s litter box (feline feces may carry a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis infections). Steer clear of pet mice, hamsters, and guinea pigs (their droppings, saliva, and bedding can transmit LCMV, a virus that can cause miscarriage). And don’t keep reptiles like turtles, lizards, or snakes in your home during pregnancy or if you have kids younger than age 5 because these pets can carry salmonella.
3. Secondhand and thirdhand smoke: Avoid it. Breathing tobacco smoke from other people’s cigarettes, cigars, and pipes could increase the risk for low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome, and learning problems for babies. It can even raise odds for miscarriage or stillbirth. Even exposure to smoke residue left behind on furniture, rugs, walls, and car interiors can cause problems for your baby, such as interfering with healthy lung development.
4. Canned goods, some plastics: Cut back if you can. Exposure to the chemical bisphenol A during pregnancy could increase your child’s risk for obesity during elementary school, researchers warn. Eat less canned food, avoid plastic food containers with recycling codes “3” or “7” on the bottom, and don’t microwave food in polycarbonate containers (hard, clear plastic—usually with a recycling code “7” on the bottom).
5. Sexually transmitted diseases: Say yes to tests, treatments. Untreated sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)—whether you get one before or during pregnancy—can cause serious complications, including premature birth and low birth weight. Some, like the herpes simplex and hepatitis B viruses, can be passed along to your baby. That’s why all pregnant women are screened for STDs like syphilis, hepatitis B, and HIV. Your doctor may recommend tests for additional STDs, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and hepatitis C, if you are at high risk (such as if you or your partner has multiple sexual partners or your partner has an STD).
6. Household cleaning products: Mostly safe, but skip these. Open the windows and put on gloves when using cleaners with ammonia or chlorine. Using them as directed isn’t harmful, but the fumes could make you feel nauseated. Skip cleaning products with warnings for pregnant women, as well as those containing glycol ethers, such as some oven, grill, bathroom, and auto cleaners. You can also use natural cleaners like baking soda and vinegar.
7. Pesticides: Opt for alternatives. Getting exposed to large doses of pesticides—like you would working on a farm—during pregnancy could raise the risk for birth defects, learning problems, low birth weight, and premature birth. At home, avoid chemical pesticides just to stay safe. Instead, use mouse traps or sticky traps. Or ask someone else to apply pesticides in your home and then open the windows to air it out.
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