From the moment you see a positive sign on a pregnancy test, you know your life is changing— and with this new territory comes more than just a baby bump and potential morning sickness. In order to care for your growing baby best, there are several small things you should now avoid, from painting the nursery to hopping on a roller coaster. Do you know what these activities are? Below, consider 10 specific activities and tasks that are best skipped while you’re carrying a little one:
1. Smoking: Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), low birth weight and premature births. If you were a regular smoker before becoming pregnant, it might feel hard to quit, but realize that each cigarette causes harm to your child.
2. Eating Off-Limits Foods: Most pregnant women today know that there are several foods worth avoiding, from seafood high in mercury to under-cooked meat. Also avoid drinking alcohol, raw seafood, unpasteurized foods and high amounts of caffeine.
3. Painting: For many moms, setting up a nursery can be one of the most enjoyable parts of preparing for a new arrival. Just make sure you leave the painting to someone else— or, at least, look for low-VOC paints to use in the baby’s room. What you breathe can affect both you and your baby, so it’s important to avoid exposure to the toxins in typical paint fumes.
4. Changing the Litter Box: Have a cat? For the next nine months, it’s up to someone else to change the litter box. Dealing with cat litter can make you susceptible to toxoplasmosis, so if you do have to be the one to deal with it, always wear disposable gloves.
5. Soaking in the Hot Tub: While soaking in a hot tub or relaxing in a sauna might sound enjoyable, neither of these activities is safe for your baby. In the womb, a baby doesn’t have the ability to sweat and cool down like the rest of us do. So always keep your temperature below 101 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid injuring him or her.
6. Riding Roller Coasters: Hanging out at an amusement park with your family is fine, as long as you personally stay off the water slides and roller coasters. Forceful landings and sudden stops pose serious risks to your unborn baby.
7. Horseback Riding: Even for experienced riders, getting on horses when pregnant can be dangerous. Should you take a fall, your baby may not be able to sustain the injury.
8. Engaging in Strenuous Exercise: The general rule of thumb with exercise when you’re pregnant is to avoid getting overheated and paying attention to how your body feels. As your center of gravity changes, staying balanced in hard-core sports can be tricky. Likewise, if you’ve never been a runner or biker, the middle of your pregnancy is not the time to start.
9. Flying Late in Pregnancy: Flying in your first trimester is fine, but once you get past 25 weeks, many airlines won’t let you on board. The typical standard is no flying after 35 weeks, but there are airlines that make the cut off sooner.
10. Lying Flat on Your Back: After your 16th week of pregnancy, avoid exercises and activities that force you to lie on your back. By this point in the second trimester, the weight of your bump can press on the blood vessel bringing blood back to your heart, and you may wind up feeling faint.
While giving up some of the above activities may feel difficult, remember that you are living for more than just yourself now. Every decision you make with your body will affect your baby, too. So to give your baby protection in the womb, be sure to avoid these tasks!
Dr. Charles Bowers is a retired OB/GYN that worked in the medical field for over 30 years. He now works at Ross Feller Casey, LLP as a medical forensic evaluator.