Prenatal Risks & Pregnancy Dangers

Learn about common dangers to your developing baby

All women want to have a healthy pregnancy and getting proper prenatal care is a great way of doing that. However, there are some things every pregnant woman needs to avoid during her pregnancy. Educating yourself on the many hazards you may encounter during pregnancy is your first step in ensuring a happy and healthy pregnancy.

Yes, you love that first cup of coffee in the morning but during pregnancy you may have to swap that cup o'joe for a decaf. Why? Well, you've probably noticed how caffeine can make you jittery, your heart race and, as many college students can attest to, help you stay awake. However, caffeine can pass through the placenta to your baby and cause the same affects in your little one. Only, because your baby is still not fully developed, her system cannot deal with the caffeine properly.

[pregnant woman] As a result, regularly consuming caffeine during your pregnancy can cause your baby to be deprived of vital nutrients. This is due to the diuretic affect of caffeine. Additionally, drinking coffee can increase your baby's breathing, heart rate and blood pressure as well as cause tremors. Your baby will also likely find it difficult to fall asleep during those first few days after birth and a cranky baby does not make for a happy household.

Typical sources of caffeine include coffee, tea, soda and chocolate. It is generally recommended that pregnant women ideally eliminate caffeine from their diet or at least limit their intake to one cup of coffee or tea or one can of soda a day.

Regularly consuming alcohol during pregnancy can result in Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Children affected by FAS are often born at a low birth weight and may have physical deformities. Other problems in children commonly caused by FAS include: vision and hearing problems; impaired mental development; behavioral and social problems; and attention difficulties.

Although some studies have shown that having an occasional drink during your pregnancy does not necessarily affect your child, most experts advise women to completely refrain from drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

Another vice that can be very difficult for anyone to give up, smoking has been linked to a number of health problems in children exposed to cigarette smoke in the womb. Even secondhand smoke has been shown to be harmful to an unborn child and should be avoided if possible.

Smoking during pregnancy deprives your child of the nutrients and oxygen he needs to develop properly. If you smoke during your pregnancy, you are putting yourself at an increased risk for placenta previa, placental abruption, ectopic pregnancy, preterm labor, and miscarriage or stillbirth. Your baby will also have an increased chance of being born with a low birth weight and is more likely to develop respiratory diseases along with other health problems as he gets older.

If you would like to quit smoking but are finding it difficult, ask your health care provider for any tips, suggestions or even programs that she can recommend.

It is always advised that women using illegal drugs, like cocaine, stop once they become pregnant. Better yet, women who feel that they have a drug problem should seek out help before they become pregnant. Abusing narcotics during pregnancy increases your risk of miscarriage or stillbirth and preterm labor, among other things. It can also cause impaired fetal growth and lead to a host of health problems in your child.

However, it is not just illegal drugs that you should be wary of. Many other perfectly legal medications should also be avoided during pregnancy. Common over-the-counter drugs, like ibuprofen and aspirin, are generally considered to be no-nos during pregnancy (with the exception of when your doctor advises you to take them). Numerous prescription drugs should also be discontinued if you are pregnant. If you are taking psychiatric medications, before to inform your health care provider of your pregnancy.

Discuss your use of any drugs, legal or not, with your health care provider when you are pregnant. In some cases, such as pregnant women who are HIV positive, it may be necessary to alter your medications.

Chemicals and Toxins
If you've been having troubles convincing your partner to help out more around the house, then tell them to consider this: over exposure to common household chemicals and toxins can damage your baby's health.

Paint is one of the first toxins that come to most pregnant women's minds when it comes to chemicals to avoid. Although today's common household paints are generally safer than those manufactured when you were a child, many experts feel that it is still best for pregnant women to step away from the paint roller. If you just can't resist, then make sure you are painting in a very well-ventilated area.

Everyday household cleaners may also be problematic for pregnant women. Although no study has yet conclusively proven that regular cleaners can cause problems in a developing child, this possibility has not been conclusively ruled out either. As a general rule of thumb, pregnant women should make sure they are cleaning in a well-ventilated area. Or, you can just pass the mop to your partner.

Pesticides and insecticides have been linked to birth defects, especially if exposure to these chemicals occurred during the first trimester. However, it is important to note that these problems were most prevalent in children whose mothers had had prolonged exposure to the chemicals. If your garden absolutely must look fantastic this year, you may be better off hiring someone to do the work for you.

The vast majority of women, regardless of their age, have healthy pregnancies. However, women over the age of 35 tend to have a slightly higher risk for a number of pregnancy complications, including: miscarriage, placenta previa, low birth weight, high blood pressure, and birth by cesarean section. Additionally, because both egg and sperm quality decline with age, there is an increased risk of congenital birth defects, such as Down Syndrome, in children born to mother's who are over the age of 35.

Taking care of yourself, eating well, exercising regularly and getting proper prenatal care can help ensure that you have a healthy and happy pregnancy no matter what your age.

Worries or concerns? Just excited? It can help to chat with other moms who are also expecting.

Curious about whether it's safe to have sex while pregnant? Learn more about sex during pregnancy at Pregnancy and Sex.



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