Precautions While Pregnant

It is very important for expectant parents to take precautions against harming their unborn baby.

Alcohol: Babies who are exposed to alcohol during pregnancy may have serious abnormalities, including mental retardation and physical deformities. The safest course is to completely avoid alcohol while you are pregnant.

Smoking: Smoking increases the likelihood of miscarriage, stillbirth, hemorrhage, , low birth weight and your baby’s addiction to nicotine. Pregnant women should not smoke and should avoid exposure to passive (secondhand) smoke. Infants exposed to nicotine in utero may experience withdrawal symptoms after birth. Addiction responses as severe as those from cocaine addiction have been reported. Babies who are exposed to cigarette smoke are four times more likely to die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) than babies who are not exposed to smoke. Children exposed to passive smoke are at higher risk for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), immune depression, ear infections and asthma. Cigarette smoke poses an extremely high risk of damaging a child’s health and future well-being. Talk to your doctor for help with smoking cessation.

Caffeine: Mothers with a high caffeine intake have an increased incidence of premature birth and stillbirth. Limit your caffeine intake especially during the first trimester.

Prescription and non-prescription drugs: All medication taken by a pregnant woman will reach the unborn child within minutes. Notify your midwife or obstetrician of all medications you are taking, whether they are prescribed or over-the-counter medications. Certain medications are known to be extremely harmful to an unborn child.

Recreational drugs: Mood-altering drugs such as marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, LSD, angel dust, amphetamines, sniffing glue and any non-approved unregulated drug can cause birth defects, stillbirth, and premature birth and even result in the child being born addicted. Use of these drugs during pregnancy can result in legal charges being filed against the mother, as well as losing custody of her baby. If you use recreational drugs, contact your doctor or midwife for treatment options immediately.

X-ray: X-rays can cause birth defects. Avoid exposure to X-rays while you are pregnant.

Pica: Pica is the craving and ingestion of non-food products during pregnancy. The craving of items such as clay and dirt may be due to a vitamin deficiency and should be reported to your health care provider.

Fish: Women should seek fish choices low in mercury and high in healthy fats. Pregnant or nursing women who eat fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids will pass these nutrients to their babies and support healthy brain and eye development. High-mercury fish to avoid include king mackerel, shark, swordfish, marlin and tuna.

Domestic Violence: Pregnancy can create stress in families. The risk of domestic violence starting during pregnancy, or becoming worse if it already exists, is significant. Domestic violence will not stop without intervention. For your safety and the safety of your baby, call for help immediately.

If you feel that you are in immediate danger, please call 911. For resources and additional help or for information for safe shelters, please call:

  • FavorHouse of Northwest Florida (Pensacola) -    850.434.6600
  • Shelter House (Crestview) -   850.683.0845
  • Shelter House (Fort Walton Beach) -   850.243.1201

The most important thing for you to remember is that abuse is not your fault. You did nothing to cause and nothing to deserve it. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and be in a safe and loving environment.