Don’ts during pregnancy: Dispelling myths

DURING PREGNANCY, ESPECIALLY FIRST, the flow of new information can be disarming, and it can be difficult to separate reasonable advice from unreasonable ones. We decided to sort out the justified and unjustified recommendations, leaving out obvious superstitions such as prohibitions on photography, knitting or using a computer.


The desired pregnancy often encourages purchases – both for the unborn child and for yourself, especially taking into account the changing body. Women are actively looking for information, something that marketers can’t help but use when they talk about the dangers of conventional cosmetics, from nail polishes to hair products, and offer new ones with unique formulas designed specifically for pregnant women.

In fact, formaldehyde, toluene and phthalates in nail polishes and nail polish removers are only dangerous in very large quantities – if you are a master of manicure and pedicure, then it is important to think about the safety of the workplace and good ventilation. Funds applied to the skin rarely penetrate deeply, which means they will not penetrate the bloodstream and will not pass through the placenta. Let’s remind that not a single product “from stretch marks” does not guarantee that they will not appear – so you can not spend money on special oils and get by with the usual moisturizing cream.

As for active cosmetics, you should take special care with acids and pay double attention to sun protection, because both acidic products and pregnancy can provoke pigmentation. Retinol and its derivatives stand apart – taking these drugs by mouth during pregnancy is really prohibited, and it is recommended to exclude products applied to the skin . However, the European Medicines Agency claims that superficial retinoids are unlikely to harm the fetus – that is, if you used the cream before you found out about pregnancy, you definitely do not need to panic.


During pregnancy, it is imperative to do professional dental hygiene once or twice and cure caries, if any; X-rays and anesthesia are much less harmful than a source of infection in the form of a bad tooth or an inflamed gum. Also, all pregnant women are shown vaccination against whooping cough and, in the appropriate season, against influenza.

The usual tactic for other interventions is that if the procedure is not critical to health, it is better to postpone it until the postpartum period. This includes starting treatment with braces, body piercings, tattoos, beauty injections or laser treatments. Most of the prohibitions are based on potential, not proven risk. If you get Botox shots and then find out about pregnancy, don’t panic – it looks like it’s safe .

Non-invasive treatments like masks or waxing during pregnancy won’t hurt, and massage can be a big help for those with tired backs or swollen legs. Cut, paint and brighten the hair can be of the usual graphics and the usual means.


Perhaps, as many myths are connected with what as with the diet of pregnant women. Sometimes out of pure superstition, and sometimes out of a mistaken belief about harm, the strangest prohibitions appear – on mushrooms, spicy or food of a certain color. In reality, there are not so many products that can harm an unborn child: mainly food in which bacteria that are safe for an adult, but dangerous for a fetus can settle.

These include white and blue cheeses, raw or semi-raw eggs, any kind of pâté, including vegetable, raw or semi-raw meat such as rare steaks. Experts also warn against meat products such as salami or jamon, which may contain Toxoplasma pathogens; however, when cooking (for example, if slices of pepperoni are sent to the oven with pizza), the risk is neutralized. Seafood should not be soggy or bacterial or viral infections can occur, and fish such as shark, swordfish and marlin should be avoided due to the high mercury content. You can eat sushi if the fish has been previously frozen.

The best thing to do with your diet during pregnancy, as well as at any other stage in life, is to keep it varied , balanced, based on vegetables, fruits, cereals and legumes, without high amounts of salt and sugar. In the third trimester, due to the displacement of internal organs, heartburn and belching often appear – so it is worth switching to small portions, avoiding foods that provoke these symptoms, and not going to bed immediately after eating. Acute at this stage can really add inconvenience, but it helps to cope with nausea in the first trimester.


In southern Europe, no one will be surprised if a pregnant woman orders a glass of wine for dinner – local traditions almost equate this drink with water. And yet the official recommendations on this matter are unambiguous: the safe dose of alcohol during pregnancy is unknown – in other words, any dose is considered dangerous. Again, if you took a couple of sips and realized that alcohol was mistakenly poured into your non-alcoholic cocktail, we can confidently say that you did not cause irreparable harm to the unborn child. It is better not to worry about what you have done, but also not to drink alcoholic beverages on purpose.

Caffeine is recommended to be limited to 200 milligrams per day. Those who are accustomed to drinking a lot of coffee should switch to a decaffeinated drink after the first two cups. This substance is also found in tea, cola and energy drinks. It should be remembered that soda usually contains large amounts of sugar as well, and is not part of a balanced diet at all. As for herbal tea, it is best to consult a doctor.

Medicines and vitamins

We have already said that the food supplement market is regulated in a completely different way from the drug market, and sometimes products with effects opposite to those stated are on sale. In 2018 it became clear that a multivitamin brand Gwyneth Paltrow Goop, promoted as a means for pregnant women, contain 110% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which is generally not advised to take at this time. If the doctor has not identified a deficiency of any vitamin, you do not need to prescribe it yourself: the consequences can be dangerous. The only vitamin recommended to be taken three months before conception and during the entire first trimester is folic acid.

When prescribing medicines, they are guided by the rule of balance between benefits and risks: if the harm from the medicine is lower than from the current disease, then it is worth using it. Over-the-counter cold remedies are safe when taken shortly and when indicated.

Household chemicals

Special cleaning products that are safe for pregnant women are a marketing ploy. Regular liquids and powders can be used with the usual precautions – for example, opening windows often and wearing gloves when handling anything particularly corrosive. Of course, chronic exposure to chemicals in connection with the profession is another issue that needs to be discussed with both the doctor and the employer.

If you have a cat at home, there is a real cat litter risk during pregnancy. Contact with cat feces can lead to toxoplasmosis, which is extremely dangerous during pregnancy. Reputable medical organizations recommend delegating the cleaning of the litter box, and if this is not possible, wear gloves and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.

Physical activity

Ideally, the pregnancy should be active – this helps reduce the likelihood of back pain and swelling, reduce the risk of complications such as gestational diabetes, regulate weight, and sleep better. In general, it is recommended not to start anything radically new, listen to your own body and continue your usual physical activity – that is, running if you have run before, or going to a rocking chair if this is your usual activity. General recommendations are similar to those for non-pregnant women: cardio three to five times a week, strength training, including abs , two to three times.

Limitations can be counted on one hand: obviously, you need to avoid hitting the abdomen or falling. It’s important not to choke – for example, the intensity of the cardio should be enough to keep the conversation going. By the end of pregnancy, the joints become less stiff, and to avoid dislocation, it is best not to do explosive jumping movements. Finally, starting from the second trimester, it is not recommended to do exercises with weight, lying on your back (this interferes with the outflow of blood through the veins). Bleeding, cramping or feeling unwell is a reason to see a doctor, and this does not depend on whether you play sports.

Sleep, heels and flights

Sleeping on your back during the second and especially the third trimester is undesirable : the uterus, becoming heavier, compresses the veins and abdominal organs. Sleeping on your stomach , on the other hand, is safe , although for obvious reasons it becomes uncomfortable at some point. If it feels comfortable to sleep on your stomach, you can do it without fear .

For shoes with heels, pregnant women have to listen to even comments from strangers – and the stress associated with this can be more dangerous than shoes. It is important to assess sensibly how the balance of the body changes due to its new proportions, and not to take risks if you stumble in some shoes and may fall. As pregnancy progresses, shoes can become uncomfortable due to swelling of the legs or an uncomfortable bend in the lower back, so it would be logical to switch to sneakers, but this is primarily a matter of convenience.

Flying before thirty-six weeks of pregnancy is generally considered safe – and if you are concerned, you should consult your doctor. True, from a medical point of view, “possible” is not always equal to “possible” according to the airline’s rules – some of them require a doctor’s certificate from twenty-five weeks. In order to avoid surprises when buying tickets, it is better to read even the small print.

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