4. Kick the butts
Puffing on a cigarette exposes your baby to harmful chemicals, such as tar and nicotine, while reducing blood flow. As a result, smoking increases your chances of having complications, such an ectopic pregnancy, and birth defects. Speak to your healthcare provider about the best way to stop smoking.
Beyond your own habit, it’s also important to stamp out cigarettes all around you. “Secondhand smoke is also dangerous to the fetus,” says Afriyie-Gray. According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, pregnant women who were chronically exposed to secondhand smoke were 23 percent more likely to have a stillbirth and 13 percent more likely to have a child with a birth defect. So tell your family to refrain from lighting up in your presence, and always opt for non-smoking areas in public spaces.
5. Reevaluate your lifestyle
Pregnant women should avoid strenuous work and excessive amounts of stress. So if lifting heavy objects is part of your job, or if your high-pressure workload causes anxiety, speak with someone in your company’s human resources department.
6. Research your family tree
Ask around about any pregnancy complications or genetic abnormalities, such as sickle-cell disease or Down syndrome, which may run in the family. “This helps your doctor look out for any potential problems during your pregnancy or birth,” says Afriyie-Gray.
7. Avoid undercooked foods, particularly meat
Whether it’s sushi or a medium-rare steak, undercooked meat may harbor harmful bacteria that cause toxoplasmosis, a dangerous infection that can result in serious eye or brain damage. Another potential danger: deli meat, which can contain another bacteria called listeria. If you can’t bear to part with those turkey slices, make sure that you heat them until they’re steaming hot.