Surprising Things to Avoid During Pregnancy

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Pregnant women are usually counseled by their doctors to not smoke or drink alcohol, eat fish in moderation, limit caffeine intake and avoid taking medications unless necessary. Many women also know that they should avoid unpasteurized soft cheeses, uncooked deli meats and watch what chemicals they are exposed to. There are other sometimes surprising things women shouldn’t do while they are pregnant.

Skin Care During Pregnancy

Certain ingredients such as retinoids and salicylic acid in skin care products should be avoided during pregnancy. In her 2006 article entitled, “Safe Skin Care During Pregnancy”, Angie Drakulich states that retinoids are a type of vitamin A that helps speed up your skin’s cell turnover rate. The faster skin cells renew, the fresher and younger your skin looks.

According to an article on, oral retinols such as Accutane can cause miscarriage and birth defects. While these side effects have not been linked to topical skin care, it’s wise to be cautious and avoid these substances.

Salicylic acid, also known as Beta hydroxy acid or BHA, should also be avoided if possible. According to Drakulich, this ingredient is used to treat acne by breaking up oil and dead skin cells deep in pores and can also reduce inflammation and redness.

Taken orally salicylic acid has also been shown to cause birth defects and other complications, so doctors advise women to stay away from putting it on their skin, especially in stronger face and body peels, as a precautionary method.

Vitamins and Other Supplements to Avoid When Pregnant

To ensure that pregnant women get the nutrients they need, most doctors recommend taking a prenatal vitamin. Some vitamins when taken in excess can be harmful to the developing baby.

According to an article written by Amy Schweitzer, MS, RD in the Journal of Perinatal Education, higher-than-normal doses of the fat-soluble vitamins, including A, D, E and K, can be toxic. In high doses, vitamin A has been known to cause birth defects. Schweitzer advises women to take only the prenatal vitamin recommended or prescribed by their doctor.

Because herbs are not tested by the Food and Drug Administration, the American Pregnancy Association (APA) recommends not taking herbs without first consulting your doctor. There have been few studies done to test the effects of herbs on the baby or the mother, but herbs may contain substances that could cause miscarriage, uterine contractions, premature birth or other harm to the baby.

The APA lists saw palmetto, goldenseal, dong quai, ephedra, yohimbe, pay d’ arco, passion flower, black cohosh, blue cohosh, roman cammomile and pennyroyal as herbs pregnant women should avoid.

Being cautious about what you put into or onto your body is always important, but more so during pregnancy since what you do affects not only you, but your baby as well. Make sure your doctor is aware of any oral or topical medications or supplements you are using so she can give you and your growing baby the best possible care.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.