Pregnancy risks – Hazards During Pregnancy

Its surprising how the most non maternal of us becomes so protective of our babies, particularly when they are in the womb! During pregnancy one of the most frequent questions we ask ourselves is ‘Will this hurt the baby?’ Unfortunately, we are often ignorant about the answer. So we have compiled this list of things that you should definitely avoid when pregnant.

Inside the house :

  • Be extra careful with meat, poultry, fish, shell fish, eggs, and milk as bacteria grow best in foods that are moist, high in protein, and non-acidic
  • A major cause of food poisoning is improper food handling.
    • Always wash your hands with soap and hot water before and after you touch non-veg food.
    • Don’t thaw frozen food on the kitchen counter – do it in the microwave or in the refrigerator.
    • If you cut raw meat on your cutting board, wash it thoroughly before cutting anything else.
    • Don’t use a wooden chopping board – bacteria can be trapped in the cracks.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables properly to remove pesticides
  • It is sensible not to use saccharin while preparing for pregnancy, around the time of conception, or during pregnancy itself.
  • Avoid food with monosodium glutamate. Most ready to cook food items have this ingredient. Also if eating Chinese avoid Ajinomoto.
  • Always check the container packets to see if it is listed as ‘to be avoided during pregnancy’. You may be surprised to find even very common foods in this category.


  • Never ever self medicate without first checking with your doctor. If possible avoid even the most harmless of drugs.

Drink filtered or boiled water.

  • Indigestion in pregnancy often sets a woman back in her required weight gain.
  • This precaution would also guard against Jaundice, which is almost always fatal to a pregnant woman.
  • Filtering your drinking water also protects you from consuming lead and chlorine.

There is still a lot of controversy regarding the effects of exposure to microwaves. The developing foetus and the eye are considered to be particularly vulnerable. However, much more research is needed before the answers are known. Till then it is advisable to take certain precautions when pregnant.

  • Don’t stand in front of the oven when it is in operation.
  • Be sure your oven door doesn’t leak. Make sure that the door is not damaged and it closes properly. If you have any doubts call the service people to check for possible leaks.

A common source of lead in food or drink is contamination from earthenware pottery or china. Avoid using crockery that is not of a reputable brand. Don’t use Khurja pottery or any crockery or earthenware you are not sure of.

Many chemicals commonly found in household products can cross over the placenta and affect the feotus. For example nail polish is supposed to contain toluene, which can have a harmful effect.

  • Household cleaners
    • Avoid products with strong odours or fumes.
    • Don’t breathe it in directly.
    • Use in area where there is plenty of ventilation.
    • Use gloves to avoid getting the cleaning products on your skin
    • Use pump sprays instead of aerosols.
    • Never mix different chemicals, such as ammonia and bleach, as the fumes that result can be very dangerous to anyone inhaling them.
    • Skip cleaning the oven, though, since it’s hard to get good ventilation in such a tight space.
  • Pesticides
    Insects such as cockroaches and ants, may affect your aesthetic sensibilities, but they rarely pose a health risk to human beings, even pregnant ones. It is generally safer to live with them than to eliminate them through the use of pesticide, some of which have been linked to birth defects.

    • Whenever possible, try to take natural approach to pest control.
    • If you have to use pesticide make sure you are not around during the process and you get someone else to do the cleaning up.
  • Hobby Paints
    Many art and craft supplies are toxic. Read the label carefully before you use these and be sure to follow all directions. Be extra cautious when you use materials not marketed as art materials such as household paints (for example enamel paints which are also used in things like screen printing, marble texture, etc), for they may not be safe.
  • Whitewashing
    Paints have high levels of mercury or lead, both harmful to the unborn child. While whitewashing or painting is being done, try to remain away from home. Keep windows open for ventilation. Remember to steer clear of the paint removing process.
  • Insect repellent
    Use insect repellent with caution, as certain amount of the chemical is absorbed through the skin into your bloodstream, especially those that contain the chemical Diethyltoluamide, more commonly known as DEET.

Indoor air pollution
Furniture, paints, carpets all give off invisible fumes and pollute the air you breathe at home. Have a lot of plants inside the house to let the house breathe.


  • Wear gloves when gardening and wash your hands afterwards as soil can be infected with the toxoplasma parasite.
  • Avoid contact with potentially toxic fertilizers or pesticides

Cats are potent sources of toxoplasma which can be fatal to the foetus. If you have a cat at home, have her tested to see if she has an active infection. If she does, ask some one to look after her for at least 6 weeks, the period during which the infection is transmissible. After that keep her free of infection by not allowing her to eat raw meat, roam outdoors, hunt mice or birds or fraternize with other cats. Ask someone else to clean the cat litter.

Your body works overtime to increase the blood supply in your body, so you’re likely to tire more easily, and you’ll also notice that muscles and joints become looser, which can make you more prone to injury. A bulbous belly can also affect your sense of balance. It’s very important to heed your body’s warnings and steer clear of potential danger areas:

  • Be careful on the steps
  • Don’t have loose wires lying around the house
  • Move around slowly and carefully
  • Wipe up liquid spills immediately
  • Be extra careful in the bathroom

Any thing raising the body temperature over 102%F and keeps it there for a while- whether its workout or a virus, is potentially hazardous to the developing embryo or foetus, particularly in the early months

Outside the House :

At the Beauty Parlour

  • Avoid using a vibrator for a head massage or pedicure especially in the later months, as it can trigger off labour.
  • Hair Dyes & Perms
    Though nothing has been conclusively proved about the effects of the chemical compounds in hair dyes and perms, it is best to take the following precautions

    • apply using gloves
    • apply in a well-ventilated room
    • don’t leave the solutions on for excessive periods of time
    • An alternative could be highlighting, painting, or frosting your hair. You absorb hair coloring agents into your system through your skin (scalp), not through your hair shaft. So, any process, such as streaking, that puts less of the chemical in contact with your scalp reduces your exposure to the compounds in dyes.
    • Or could use vegetable dyes like Henna

At the Doctor’s clinic

  • X-rays – These need to be avoided. Always tell the doctor about your condition.

Air pollution

  • Ask family, guests, friends not to smoke in your presence. Passive smoking during the prenatal period is said to be harmful to the baby.
  • Don’t go for a walk or jog along congested roads, since you breathe in more air and so more pollution when you are active.
  • Keep the air around you cleaner with greenery.

At the Office

  • Computer Monitor
    Several studies have been done on the effect of radiation from Video Display Units (Monitors) on pregnant women. Though nothing conclusive has been established, take the following precautions

    • Try not to sit behind some one else’s terminal (more radiation is emitted from the back of a unit).
    • If your desk is in a less than ideal position relative to other VDUs, try for a change in position.
  • Stay away from hazardous chemicals if they are a part of your work environment
  • Avoid standing for long periods of time.


  • Travel by any mode that results in a bumpy journey should be avoided. Autorickshaws and Two-wheelers should be most avoided.
  • Long distance travel should be done only after you take the permission of your doctor.

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