Updated: Dec 2, 2019

You don’t need to be told to avoid smoking or drinking alcohol during pregnancy (well, I like to think that we all avoid that). But there are inadvertent habits that can affect your baby too. Here are some of them:

1. Eating the wrong kind of fish

Essential fats, like those in fish, are important for your baby's brain development. So doctors recommend that pregnant women eat at least two whole fish meal in a week during pregnancy. What can make fish toxic? Well, I'll explain. The sea has a lot of mercury and the high intake of this chemical is neurotoxic. However, adults can consume mercury in reasonable amounts without any complications. Therefore, we have seen that it might not be toxic for an adult to eat any fish. Conversely, for a small baby, even smaller amounts of mercury can be harmful. But babies need these essential elements. Are there any alternatives? Yes, smaller fish like salmon and tilapia carry a lower amount of mercury, therefore, they are safe for pregnant women. On the contrary, big fish like shark have a higher amount of mercury, and so avoid them like a plague. Supplementing with fish oil is recommended, and if you are vegan there are algae-derived supplements

2. Painting your nails

Nail polish can contain many chemicals that can cause harm during pregnancy. The chemicals can get inside your body by penetrating the nails, by breathing the volatile compounds, and even by ingesting them when you cook or bite your fingernails. Among others, formaldehyde, a carcinogen and respiratory irritant is one of the harmful chemicals that could be contained in nail polish, putting nail salon workers and their children at risk. That’s not all. Toluene and phthalates are not less dangerous. Some brands advertise some less toxic nail polish chemical alternatives. Even so, sometimes these toxic chemicals are present in products labeled as non-toxic. So it's essential to pick nail polish brands very carefully during pregnancy or advisably evade nail polishing altogether. Remember that you’re at risk too if you go to the salon very often, as fumes of nail polish can reach you even if it's not being applied on you.

3. You like your house to smell nice

Personal hygiene is necessary, and enjoying the delicious scent of a clean environment is awesome. But is the problem with cleanness or hygiene? No. The problem is in the air fresheners and many other perfumed household products because they often contain phthalates. Phthalates are chemicals present in flexible plastics, nail polish, and hairspray. The use of this chemical is very controversial in the field of medicine and technological research. This is because it is connected to recurrent pregnancy loss and malfunction of reproductive organs. Though scientists have argued that phthalates are safe when intake is low, they have become so ubiquitous that we probably consume higher doses than studied. We cannot completely remove phthalates from our everyday life, but we can limit our exposure to it. Present in air fresheners, we should use more natural alternatives like essential oils diffusers, or homemade potpourri instead of commercial ones.

4. Using face lotion

A study showed that mothers who use face lotion during pregnancy expose their fetuses to the development of germ cell tumor. While it didn’t certify face lotion to be a cause of this disease nor did it specify what kind of lotion those mothers used, this study shows the importance of cleaner cosmetic products during this period in life. Retinoid is one popular ingredient to avoid during pregnancy. Retinoid can be found in acne and some anti-aging creams. The application of retinoid is associated with teratogenic effects. Always read labels carefully to avoid harmful ingredients.

5. Taking herbal medicine you read about on that blog

Plants have strong physiological and chemical effects. But that doesn’t ascertain that its use would be innocuous. Many herbs have uterine contractions stimulating effects that can cause miscarriage or other harm to the fetus. One example of this is rosemary plant. This plant can have uterine stimulant effects when used in medicinal amounts (relax, it's still safe to consume it in your food). In view of this, we recommend that you avoid any non-essential medication. Always consult with a specialist before using any herbal product and have the same scrutiny with herbs that you would have with any chemical.

If you want to know more, read our next post for 5 more habits during pregnancy that could be toxic for your baby and our list of recommendations for a sweeter antenatal life and safer delivery.