June 27, 2023

What to Avoid During Pregnancy

Most people know that there are certain things you should avoid when pregnant, like drinking alcohol and smoking, but there are more to that list that aren’t that obvious. Don’t worry, we will let you know what things may have potential risks, how you can prevent them, and what you should limit your consumption of. 

Skin Products

Many skin-care products are considered safe to use during pregnancy, but some may pose a risk to growing fetuses and their pregnant mother since we can absorb products through our skin and could cross the placental barrier.  If you're unsure about your skin-care products, ask your midwife if they are safe to use while pregnant. 


Retinoids come in both oral and topical medications. Isotretinoin, the oral retinoid, is a black box medication which means it is unsafe for use during pregnancy due to the serious birth defects it can cause. Topical retinoids have not shown to cause problems during pregnancy, but it’s recommended to avoid them until you have given birth. 

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is an acne treatment that comes in oral and topical medications. Taking salicylic acid orally while pregnant poses a risk of miscarriage and birth defects. More research is needed to determine the risks of topical treatments of salicylic acid, but for now, it’s best to find a safer alternative such as benzoyl peroxide or witch hazel. 

If using benzoyl peroxide you notice your skin drying out or becoming irritated, that may be a sign to reduce your use to once or twice per week. Pimple patches can also help clear acne, but look for the ones with hydrocolloid and not salicylic acid. 

Foods and Drinks

Most foods and drinks are still safe to consume during pregnancy, some of them you may want to limit your intake to reduce risks while others you may want to avoid altogether. Check out this blog post to see what key nutrients you should be getting during pregnancy.


Caffeine consumption should be limited to no more than 200 mg per day (about one 12-ounce cup of coffee). Caffeine can cause low birth weight and can have lasting effects as your child grows into adulthood. 

If you find yourself needing an energy boost, firstly you want to make sure you're getting adequate rest, drinking enough water, and eating nutrient-dense foods to fuel your body. Taking short walks daily can also help keep you energized in the long term. 


Eating fish and shellfish during pregnancy can be a great way to incorporate omega-3 fatty acids into your diet, but be careful not to eat too much fish that are high in mercury such as albacore tuna (canned light tuna is still safe). You should also avoid eating undercooked or raw fish and shellfish. Safe seafood to eat are salmon, freshwater trout, tilapia, catfish, and shrimp. 

Deli Meat

Cold deli meats can pose a risk of miscarriage and stillbirth as they may contain a bacteria called listeria. To avoid getting listeria, you can heat your deli meat enough to see steam and that should kill any bacteria on the meat making it safe to eat. 

Soft Cheeses

Soft cheese can also contain listeria and should be avoided unless they have been made with pasteurized milk. Most cheeses you find in the stores have been pasteurized, so this is mainly an issue if you are getting home-made cheese. 


Some women may feel inclined to try using CBD oil to reduce symptoms of morning sickness or anxiety, but medical experts advise against using CBD and THC for pregnant women and nursing mothers. CBD poses a risk of stillbirth and could be contaminated with bacteria, fungus, and heavy metals. 


Exercising during pregnancy is recommended, but you may have to wait until postpartum to do certain exercises. You should avoid any exercises that involve twisting your core or crunches, especially as you draw closer to The Third Trimester. 

Another thing to note about exercising during pregnancy is that you don't want to overdo it. Keep your activity level the same as before you got pregnant. For easy exercises to do during pregnancy, check out this blog post

For questions about if a medication or food is safe during pregnancy, contact our midwives today!

Dakota Collins
Dakota Collins is a freelance writer and stay-at-home mother of two precious little girls who is passionate about freedom in pregnancy and childbirth.
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