by Lempi Koivisto
From the minute you read "pregnant" on the test, threats to your baby seem to appear out of nowhere and all-around you.
You already know that cigarettes, drugs and alcohol are off limits.
What about other kinds of activities you enjoy that might not have obvious dangers?
Are you doomed to nine months of boredom, sitting quietly on the couch twiddling your thumbs?
Should you hold your breath around noxious chemicals? Do you need to get rid of your cat?
Relax and breathe! You don't have to be paranoid when you're pregnant. All you need to do is avoid or minimize known risks and skip or modify certain summer activities. You can even enjoy a night out with the girls. Substitute laughter and companionship for alcoholic drinks.
Don't Do These Summer Activities
Scuba diving can be fascinating and exhilarating, but it isn't recommended during pregnancy. Scuba divers decompress as they return to the surface of the water. Developing babies may have difficulty decompressing. Some studies report a higher incidence of birth defects and preterm birth among women who dive during pregnancy. You may want to stick to swimming or try snorkeling as an alternative.
Home Improvement Projects
Some of the chemicals used fixing up your home can harm your baby. You can still create the perfect little nest, safely. Many new paints and varnishes have low or no volatile organic compounds. You'll want to try and purchase these products, keep a window open and enjoy your creativity. When all else fails, get someone else to do it!
Biking On and Off-Road
Changes in your balance and the unpredictable can cause you to crash and fall. You don't really want to fall when you're pregnant. It's not unusual that a car appears out of nowhere, a rock in the road trips your tire or a slick metal plate ambushes you. Most experts say that stationary cycling is preferable to cycling on the road. Bonnie Berk, author of "Motherwell Maternity Fitness Plan" suggests that you try to flex at the hip joint, keeping your back straight rather than bending at the waist. It reduces stress on your lower back.
Amusement Park Rides
Do you love roller coasters? The abrupt starts and stops, along with the flipping and jerking could lead to a premature separation of the placenta from the uterine wall. Automobile accidents can cause the same condition.
Although studies don't document a problem with roller coasters and similar rides, experts say it's best to avoid them. Amusement parks identify rides considered to be a risk for pregnant women. Play it safe and ride them after your baby arrives. Your baby might be all the "rides" you can handle.
Sushi Shop Sampling
Seafood offers nutritional benefits for pregnant women. It's high in protein, low in saturated fats and rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Seafood should be part of your diet but you'll need to limit varieties high in mercury and skip raw fish. Enjoy the California rolls (they don't have any raw fish)!
The Indoor Gun Range
Do you enjoy shooting indoors? It might not be completely safe for moms-to-be. The two major concerns are lead and noise exposure. The loud noises can startle you and baby-to-be.
If you have to shoot for your job, please wear a HEPA filter mask rated for lead. Don't handle the ammunition or spent casings yourself. Wash your hands and arms up to the elbows in cold, soapy water to remove any residual lead.
As your belly gets bigger, your center of gravity shifts. Even the most experienced horsewoman runs the risk of falling as well as being kicked by a spooked horse. While you can still care for your horse, you might want to postpone riding until after the baby is born.
Other obvious activities that have a high percentage of risk for falling (or worse) include rock climbing, sky diving and bungee jumping. We don't think you'll be doing much of these types of activities during your pregnancy.
Cleaning the Litter Box
Have you had five different relatives tell you that you can't touch or change the cat litter? Cat feces could carry and transmit toxoplasmosis, which can harm a developing fetus. To decrease the risk of catching it, keep your cat indoors, use gloves when touching cat feces and wash your hands well after handling the litter. You can always have someone else empty the box. You've got a good excuse not to do it now.
Moving and Relocating
Here's your chance to supervise and let others handle all the large, bulky and heavy stuff. Any major lifting and straining involved in moving is off limits for pregnant women. Period.
Finding a new house or apartment is stressful enough and can try your patience. Stress has physiological effects on the body that affect your pregnancy. You might want to schedule the move after the baby is born (if possible) or you could pull the "pregnant; can't do it" card and practice relaxation while others arrange the move.
Has your healthcare team suggested that you avoid certain activities during your pregnancy? Were you able to make changes or did you need to skip it totally? What are some of your stories?