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Things That Can Harm Your Pregnancy

Things That Can Harm Your Pregnancy

The period of pregnancy is a delicate one during which a pregnant woman and her developing baby are vulnerable to different dangers in the environment. In Nigeria, poor healthcare delivery and infrastructure coupled with myriads of challenges and stressful situations make this delicate period even more challenging for pregnant women. Below, we have highlighted 12 Things That Can Harm the developing baby.

Excessive physical activity and exercise
Moderate exercise can make labor and delivery easier and will help keep pregnant women healthy. Excessive exercise, however, can deprive a fetus of oxygen, particularly late in pregnancy. Ask your doctor about the appropriate amount of exercise while you are pregnant.

Avoid x-rays and other irradiation
Avoid x-rays and other forms of irradiation while pregnant.

Work on your weight before getting pregnant. Pregnancy itself comes with gain in weight so being obese before getting pregnant is a negative factor for the health of the fetus. Overweight increases risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, high blood pressure, gestational diabetes and preterm birth, including neonatal death after birth. Liaise with your health care provider on how to maintain a good Body-mass-index (BMI) before and during pregnancy. Remember, most hospitals in Nigeria are too busy to focus on this aspect of your health – you have to take personal responsibility and initiative in this.

Yes, underweight is equally harmful to your pregnancy as much as overweight. Eat well when you are pregnant and eat healthy! There is abundance of healthy food in Nigeria, you only have to make the decision to choose them. Another point to remember is that the period of pregnancy is not the time to embark on ‘fasting’… God will surely answer the prayer of a pregnant woman; the fasting can come later when your baby is safely delivered. Your Imam and pastor also understand this.

Teratogens are environmental toxins that can adversely affect the development of the fetus. Examples include nicotine, industrial pollution, certain chemicals in some cosmetic products, cleaning chemicals, lead from battery and drugs (prescription, over the counter, and illegal).
The effects of teratogens on fetuses depend on the duration of exposure and the quantity of the teratogen. Generally, the negative effects are worse in cases of exposure during the first trimester. Many people across Nigeria are in the habit of purchasing drugs for themselves without consulting a medical doctor anytime they feel unwell. If you are pregnant, do not take any drugs without prescription from a qualified medical doctor.

Frequent travels and long journeys
Frequent travels and long journeys expose the pregnant woman and the fetus to additional risks including external risks associated with travels e.g accidents, trauma and injuries, automobile pollution etc as well as internal risks like stress, aggravation of existing health disorders like hypertension, peptic ulcer etc. Embark on journeys that are absolutely necessary only when you are pregnant and in the immediate period after delivery.

Exposure to chicken pox
Stay away from anyone who has chicken pox or is suspected to have chickenpox. The chicken pox virus is a very strong enemy of the fetus. it also has the capacity to inflict severe illness on the mother. If you have been exposed to someone with chickenpox, or you have developed symptoms of the disease, you must present yourself to a medical doctor for necessary investigation and medical help.

The effects of caffeine in the body are widespread. It has the potential to cause physiologic and metabolic derangements in the human body and these derangements can affect the unborn child fatally when it is consumed in pregnancy. AVOID CAFFEINE! And that means, no to: coffee drinks, tea, soda, energy drinks and other caffeine-containing food items.

You must stop ingesting alcohol the moment you find out that you are pregnant. Alcohol consumption in pregnancy increases your unborn child’s chance of being born with fetal alcohol syndrome. Depending on the severity of this, your child could be born with mild retardation, physical defects or worse. The pregnancy can also end abruptly in spontaneous abortion or intrauterine death.

Shellfish, king mackerel, tuna fish, sea brass and several other sea foods: These often times contain varying amounts of heavy metals including mercury that could spell doom for the fetus. The possible effects are brain damage for the baby, birth defects, spontaneous abortion, intrauterine death, low birth weight and others.

Tobacco consumption, cigarettes smoking are all time foes of the pregnant woman. Whether as an active or passive smoker, if you are pregnant, you should stay away from smoking cigarettes. The risks intrauterine growth retardation, fetal death, preterm labour and maternal ill health are multiplied with cigarettes. NO SMOKING!

Generally, sex is not harmful in any way to the developing fetus. The baby is well protected by the cushioning of the amniotic fluid and pelvic musculature. However, caution should be exercised under the following conditions:
When pregnancy is not proceeding normally e.g bleeding episodes in the first trimester
If you receive oral sex, make sure your partner doesn’t blow air into your vagina. Very occasionally a burst of air might block a blood vessel (air embolism) and pose a life threatening risk to you and the baby.
Avoid anal sex altogether when you are pregnant. Apart from the likelihood of discomfort of anal sex during pregnancy it is also a worsening factor for pregnancy-related hemorrhoids. Furthermore, anal sex might allow bacteria and other infectious pathogens to spread from the rectum to the vagina causing infections that may affect you and threaten the life of the developing baby.

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