14 Things a Pregnant Woman Shouldn't Do

The changes that occur in a woman's body during pregnancy force her to change her habits. Here are 14 things pregnant women shouldn't do.
14 Things a Pregnant Woman Shouldn't Do
Francisco María García

Written and verified by lawyer Francisco María García.

Last update: 06 November, 2022

During pregnancy, the changes that take place in a woman’s body warrant a special routine. In other words, they involve making some habit modifications to ensure that mother and child reach at birth healthy. Therefore, it’s essential to know the things that a pregnant woman shouldn’t do.

Modifying habits implies, of course, leading a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, certain actions and activities must be left behind and others simply must be moderated. For example, when going to the beach, the expectant mother needs to be more cautious regarding how much time she spends exposed to the sun.

Why are there things that a pregnant woman shouldn’t do?

As we’ve mentioned, it’s important to be aware of certain habits in order to carry a pregnancy to fruition. The more responsible you are during your pregnancy, the fewer complications will arise.

In addition, it’s important to take into account that the life of the baby is subject to that of its mother. Therefore, if the baby is to be a healthy and happy child tomorrow, it’ll be necessary to ensure their well-being from the first moment in which they begin to develop in the womb.

1. Alcohol, tobacco, and drugs

At the top of the list of things that a pregnant woman shouldn’t do is the use of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. It’s no secret that these substances harm both the health of the mother and the baby. Its even been shown that all these drugs can cause the following in the fetus:

  • Addiction syndrome
  • Abstinence syndrome
  • Malformations
  • Early death
A pregnant woman resting a glass of wine on her belly.

2. Abuse of caffeine and theine

All excesses are harmful to health. Therefore, it’s important to practice moderation regarding intake. Consuming too much caffeine during pregnancy can affect the development of the baby and can also lead to the following:

  • Spontaneous abortion
  • Premature delivery

At the same time, recent studies show that excessive coffee consumption in pregnancy increases the risk of bleeding in the first months. Therefore, experts recommend reducing the consumption of coffee and other caffeinated products to reduce the risks.

3. A diet without medical supervision

Another thing that a pregnant woman shouldn’t do is follow any type of diet without consulting her doctor. Especially if it’s a diet to lose weight because she can easily fall into the decompensation of basic nutrients and get sick. Without proper monitoring, the baby may not receive the nutrients it needs to grow and live.

4. The consumption of undercooked meat

Meats should be eaten at least medium cooked. Among other things, because raw or semi-raw meats can become contaminated with bacteria and parasites that cause diseases. Salmonella and toxoplasmosis are two of the infections that can be transmitted by eating undercooked food or food handled with poor hygiene.

5. Exposure to extreme temperatures

Another thing that a pregnant woman shouldn’t do is expose herself to the sun for a long time. Especially in the hours of greatest radiation. It’s important to remember that, during pregnancy, the skin becomes much more sensitive and it’s important to resort to both sunscreen and moderate exposure.

Certainly, the sun is good for your health and allows the body to function properly, but there’s no need to expose yourself to the point of having skin lesions or experiencing heatstroke. You have to make good use of sun protection.

6. Saunas

Hot baths and saunas are certainly very pleasant, but they’re also on the list of 14 things that a pregnant woman shouldn’t do. Very hot water isn’t good because it promotes vasodilation. In women, it can cause dizziness and fainting.

7. Traveling to places that pose a health risk

Today, you have to be especially careful with infections of all kinds. But, above all, those with diseases that are transmitted by mosquitoes, as they can seriously affect the fetus and even cause its death. Some of the most common diseases in risk areas are dengue, Zika, and Chikungunya.

Hands with the map of the world on them.

8. Get X-rays

At the same time, unless the treating doctor indicates otherwise, the radiation emitted by x-ray machines should be avoided. In general, doctors don’t authorize them unless it’s an emergency.

9. Toxic chemicals

Although the effect of some chemicals hasn’t been proven, as a precaution, a pregnant woman shouldn’t have contact with them. Avoid direct exposure to pesticides, insecticides, and other commonly used cleaning products, such as ammonia mixed with detergent and other detergents.

10. Extreme physical exercises

High-impact exercise and routines of inappropriate duration can even lead to the premature death of the fetus. Likewise, if the mother makes excessive efforts, she could cause injuries that may require surgical intervention, as is the case with hernias.

11. A sedentary lifestyle

As we’ve mentioned, extremes are detrimental to health. And just as you shouldn’t perform high-impact exercise routines and excessive duration, you shouldn’t fall into a sedentary lifestyle either. It’s necessary for mothers to stay active with some kind of gentle exercise and, if you like, of a recreational nature.

12. The use of laxatives

Despite the fact that constipation is a very common reality during pregnancy, it’s important to avoid resorting to laxatives without a prescription. Although it’s true that there are many over-the-counter products that help improve intestinal transit, every pregnant woman should always consult with her doctor.

Instead of opting for laxatives, it’s best to eat a diet rich in fiber, stay well hydrated, and try to do a little daily exercise to promote a bowel movement.

13. Self-medicate

People often take medications that they have at home in the presence of minor ailments. However, pregnant women should avoid this practice at all costs. Many of the drugs on the market are capable of passing through the placenta and causing negative effects on the baby.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classified drugs based on their safety in pregnancy. This way, pregnant women should only consume compounds belonging to categories A or B, while the rest should be avoided.

For this reason, it’s vitally important that all pregnant women consult a specialist before taking any medication, as the consequences for the baby could be serious.

14. Cleaning the cat’s litter box

Cats are the main carriers of the parasite responsible for causing toxoplasmosis. The feces of these animals contain oocysts, a form of the parasite’s reproductive cycle capable of infecting humans. Toxoplasmosis isn’t of major relevance among the general population, however, it can wreak havoc on pregnant women.

Multiple studies show that toxoplasmosis can affect the fetus, causing permanent neurological damage and blindness. With this in mind, it’s important that pregnant women don’t clean the cat’s litter box to avoid possible infection. However, the animal itself doesn’t represent any danger, so there’s no need to get rid of your beloved pet.

The things that a pregnant woman shouldn’t do constitute an important guide when it comes to carrying out a healthy pregnancy and, above all, creating responsibility regarding how we take care of both ourselves and others; or in this case: How we take care of the life of a baby.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Choi H, Koo S, Park HY. Maternal coffee intake and the risk of bleeding in early pregnancy: a cross-sectional analysis. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2020 Feb 21;20(1):121. doi: 10.1186/s12884-020-2798-1. PMID: 32085746; PMCID: PMC7035749.
  • Ahmed M, Sood A, Gupta J. Toxoplasmosis in pregnancy. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2020 Dec;255:44-50. doi: 10.1016/j.ejogrb.2020.10.003. Epub 2020 Oct 8. PMID: 33075679.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.