Pregnancy is an exciting time filled with joyful anticipation. Educating yourself on what to do and what to avoid can help ensure a healthy pregnancy and give your baby the best start in life.

So in this article, we have explored 8 key things every expecting mother should avoid during pregnancy.

While not exhaustive, the guidance provides a helpful foundation of knowledge. So read on to educate yourself about the 8 things pregnant women should avoid to promote a healthy pregnancy.

Insufficient or Inexperienced Prenatal Care:

Inadequate prenatal care can have severe consequences for both mother and baby. So it is critical that expectant mothers are vigilant in selecting an experienced doctor or midwife to oversee their pregnancy.

The right prenatal care can identify potential problems early and prevent complications. However, even when mothers take every precaution, medical errors and negligence sometimes still occur, resulting in devastating harm to mothers or babies.

If you suspect mistakes or inadequate care caused you or your child harm during pregnancy, delivery, or postpartum care, experienced birth injury attorneys can help. They will evaluate your case to determine if you have grounds to pursue justice and financial compensation through a malpractice lawsuit. 

No amount of money can make up for avoidable harm, but it can relieve financial burdens down the road. Suffering preventable harm is traumatic; the at-fault party should be held accountable.

Certain Foods:

Eating well is important during pregnancy, but there are some foods you’ll want to steer clear of completely:

  • Raw or undercooked meat, fish, and eggs can harbor salmonella, toxoplasmosis, and E. coli—foodborne illnesses that can be passed to your baby. Always cook meat to proper temperatures and avoid raw egg dishes like homemade Caesar dressing or cookie dough.
  • Unwashed produce: Fruits and veggies are full of great nutrients for mama and baby, but make sure to wash them thoroughly first to minimize the risk of toxoplasmosis or listeria exposure.
  • Unpasteurized dairy: Stick to pasteurized milk, cheese, and other dairy products, which are heated to kill off bacteria. Soft cheeses like brie and feta are also risky since they may contain listeria.

Following food safety guidelines for handling, cooking, and consuming foods during pregnancy is key to protecting yourself and your developing baby. When in doubt, take precautions and avoid risky items.

Certain Medications and Supplements:

It’s always wise to check with your doctor before taking any medications or supplements during pregnancy, as some can be unsafe. Here are some to especially avoid:

  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin): Stick to Tylenol for headaches or pain relief. Ibuprofen can potentially lead to pregnancy complications when taken in the third trimester.
  • Aspirin: Unless prescribed by your doctor for specific conditions, avoid regular use of aspirin as it may cause bleeding issues.
  • Retinoids: Vitamin A derivatives taken orally are extremely dangerous, causing congenital disabilities. Only use topical retinoids if approved by your provider.
  • Tetracycline antibiotics:  These may impact bone and tooth development in the baby.

It’s better to be cautious and avoid taking anything that isn’t crucial while pregnant. Focus instead on prenatal vitamins, a healthy diet, exercise, sleep, and other positive lifestyle measures.

Contact Sports and Dangerous Physical Activities:

While staying active during pregnancy has many benefits, you’ll want to avoid certain high-intensity workouts or activities that could potentially harm you or your baby. Some of these to avoid are

  • Contact sports: Soccer, hockey, basketball, and other sports where falls collisions, or abdominal trauma are likely should be avoided.
  • Horseback riding: The jerking motions and chance of falls make horseback riding too dangerous during pregnancy.
  • Downhill skiing: The speeds and risk of falls and abdominal injury make downhill skiing off-limits.
  • Scuba diving: The compressed air and pressure change underwater pose risks like decompression sickness and air embolism.

In general, avoid any activities with jarring motions, heights, speed, or possible trauma. Opt instead for swimming, walking, prenatal yoga, and other gentle workouts.

Changing Cat Litter:

One of the most surprising things to avoid during pregnancy is changing your cat’s litter box. Why? Because cat feces may harbor a parasite called toxoplasma that causes flu-like symptoms and congenital disabilities if transmitted to a developing baby. Take the following precautions to avoid getting this infection:

  • Avoid handling cat litter and feces, and have someone else change the box daily.
  • If you must clean the litter box, wear disposable gloves and a mask and wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Keep cats indoors and feed only commercial cat food to avoid hunting behaviors.

Toxoplasmosis is a serious infection pregnant women want to avoid. But with caution and help from loved ones, pregnant cat owners can continue enjoying furry companionship while safeguarding their health.

Smoking and Secondhand Smoke:

Smoking is never advisable, but it’s especially critical to avoid while pregnant due to the many health risks:

  • Smoking increases risks of miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, placental abruption, preterm birth, stillbirth, and more.
  • Chemicals in cigarettes restrict oxygen and blood flow to your baby, limiting growth and development.
  • Secondhand smoke exposure also carries many of the same risks.

No amount of smoking is safe during pregnancy. Quitting early on provides the greatest benefits. Also, avoid secondhand smoke whenever possible by not allowing smoking in your home or vehicle.

Drinking Alcohol:

Alcohol consumption during pregnancy is strongly advised against, as there is no known safe amount. Drinking can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorders leading to:

  • Physical deformities and organ damage
  • Facial abnormalities and growth restriction 
  • Behavioral disorders and learning disabilities
  • Vision and hearing problems   

Even just one drink can potentially affect your baby’s development. Heavy or chronic alcohol use leads to more severe, potentially fatal deficits.

Exposure to Toxic Chemicals:

Finally, take precautions around chemicals like paint fumes, solvents, dry cleaning fluid, gasoline, insecticides, mercury, lead, and other industrial or household toxins, which can be very dangerous if absorbed into your bloodstream.

To limit your exposure:

  • Avoid, if possible, using or being around harsh cleaning products, pesticides, paint, varnish, etc. Opt for natural cleaners instead.
  • Wear gloves, masks, and protective clothing when exposure can’t be avoided.
  • Avoid places with heavy pollution or emissions, like factories or polluted cities, when possible.
  • Run painting, remodeling, or chemical-emitting tasks by others instead of doing them yourself.
  • Have your home checked for lead, radon gas, and other toxins.


Pregnancy has many dos and don’ts regarding foods, activities, medications, and more. While it may seem overwhelming at first, simply focus on making educated choices that limit risks and nurture your health as well as your baby’s. Speak with your OB-GYN if you have any questions about what’s safe or not. Most importantly, listen to your body and don’t overexert yourself. Take time to relax and enjoy this amazing journey of bringing new life into the world. With the right precautions and self-care, you’ll give your baby the best possible start in those critical first 40 weeks.