Things to Avoid During Pregnancy

A healthy mother and a healthy baby are the goals of pregnancy. Jill Gibson, MD, assists patients with comprehensive prenatal care to help ensure health by explaining the dos and don’ts of pregnancy.

Pregnant Woman Looking at Ultrasound - Covington, LA - Jill Gibson, MD

Alcohol, Caffeine, and Cigarettes

Alcohol consumption is not safe during pregnancy. Smoking cigarettes is dangerous at any time but is especially dangerous for a fetus. Most experts agree that consuming caffeine in low to moderate amounts does not pose a risk for an unborn baby. Large amounts of caffeine on a regular basis, however, might cause issues such as low birth weight and caffeine withdrawal in the infant. It’s also important for women to remember that caffeine is present in different foods and beverages, not just coffee. Tea, soda, and chocolate are three examples of caffeinated products.


Typical showering and baths are fine for pregnant women. Spending time in hot tubs is not safe, however.


Many women experience a slowing of digestion during pregnancy, which can impact the bowels. If constipation occurs, it may help to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables, fluids, and miller’s bran. Hemorrhoids may also cause problems. Women should never take over-the-counter medications for constipation without physician approval.

Clothing and Shoes

Maternity clothes will keep women comfortable as the waistline expands. A well-fitting bra will provide adequate support. Take care of constriction caused by some pantyhose and choose maternity brands. For the best results, expectant moms should avoid high heels. Instead, choose low or medium heels with nonskid soles.

Personal Care Products

No changes are necessary for the use of personal care products. Women can continue to use the products they usually use, unless irritation occurs.


Physicians do not recommend douching during pregnancy, or at any time.

Working while Pregnant

Working should be fine for as long as a woman feels comfortable and are following their physician’s guidance. Jobs that involve excessive physical activity or strain might need special consideration to determine safety.

Exercising while Pregnant

A physician should assess an expectant mother to ensure that physical activity is safe. In a typical pregnancy, moderate activity and recreational pursuits will not pose a problem. Women should avoid fast running, waterskiing, horseback riding, motorcycle racing, and skydiving while expecting. Heart rate monitoring is suggested to prevent rates exceeding 120 bpm, which may cause symptoms of shortness of breath/racing heart.


Many women experience significant fatigue when expecting a baby. This fatigue can be especially prevalent during the first and third trimesters. When possible, mothers might want to schedule a midday nap to alleviate excessive tiredness.

Insecticides, Pesticides, and Herbicides

For the best results, mothers should avoid exposure to chemicals in and around the home. Physicians usually recommend that women not change cat litter during pregnancy because of the potential for contracting toxoplasmosis.


Low iron is a common issue during pregnancy. People with low iron usually feel tired. To ensure that a mother-to-be consumes enough iron, she should eat foods rich in iron such as chicken, beef, pork, lamb, eggs, fish, peanut butter, nuts, leafy green vegetables, dried fruits, and beans. Most prenatal vitamins contain iron to supplement the diet.


Avoiding medications is usually prudent during pregnancy. Sometimes, situations arise when a woman cannot avoid medication, however. There are a handful of medications that are safe to take while pregnant, however, it’s important to always check with a physician before taking anything.


Brushing and flossing are important during pregnancy to avoid gum disease. Many women experience swollen and sensitive gums during this time, which could lead to bleeding.


Travel is usually not a problem during pregnancy. However, long periods of sitting could cause complications such as blood clots. For the best results, women should get up and move around regularly instead of sitting for long periods. Travel after 32 weeks is not recommended.

By following these simple guidelines, expectant mothers will ensure a healthy pregnancy.