What To Avoid During Your First Trimester

It’s official, you’re expecting! Whether this is baby number one or not, the first few weeks can be an overwhelming mix of joy, anticipation, nerves, and uncertainty. Feeling a little anxious during the first 12 weeks is completely normal, and usually subsides as you find a new rhythm. Still, reassurance only means so much…if you’re looking for pragmatic guidelines on what to avoid during this exciting time, look no further.

What not to consume

Nicotine and tobacco

Though smoking is never recommended for personal health, it is especially crucial to quit as soon as you have a confirmed pregnancy. Immediate risks include a higher chance of miscarriage, birth defects, premature birth, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Some risks don’t appear right away, but long-term consequences can be just as harmful. Studies show that smoking during pregnancy is associated with learning disabilities and stunted academic performance. Any nicotine product (whether they produce smoke or not) can cause brain and lung damage to your baby. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to successfully quit smoking, so don’t be afraid to ask your doctor for options! 


Fetuses can’t metabolize alcohol quick enough to avoid physical and cognitive defects. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is commonly known, but did you know it’s actually a spectrum of disorders? FAS is the most severe, but just two physical symptoms warrant a Partial FAS diagnosis and can lead to serious health effects. 

To put it simply, no amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy. In the meantime, experiment with mocktail recipes or simply enjoy fruit juices (for the antioxidants, of course).

Too much caffeine

Not what you wanted to find out, we know. Unfortunately, just like in adults, too much of this stimulant can affect your baby’s heart. The only difference is that it usually takes more than a few cups of coffee to seriously affect an adult, but more than 1-2 cups per day can overwhelm a developing cardiovascular system. There isn’t a specific limit for pregnant people, so it’s always best to err on the side of caution and cut caffeine out as much as possible. Unlike alcohol, the occasional cup of coffee probably won’t harm your little one. However, if you have a known family history of heart problems, tell your doctor and consider avoiding caffeine altogether.

If you’re a coffee connoisseur, it might not be a fun habit to break… However, prioritizing sleep and general rest is the healthiest way to feel awake and alert during the day. 

Raw meat and dairy

Listeriosis and toxoplasmosis may sound like they could be found in a witch’s spell book, but they’re not hocus pocus. They are actually bacteria that, when contracted, can cause severe birth defects or even lead to miscarriage. Since illness-causing bacteria are especially common in uncooked and unpasteurized animal products, whether it’s sashimi or raw milk, the risk of harmful toxins is too high to make exceptions. 

This goes for smoked meats and seafood too. Try opting for avocado and turkey on a bagel rather than unpasteurized cream cheese and lox. In the same vein, some fish like swordfish, mackerel, and white snapper have dangerously high levels of mercury that can be harmful to you and your baby. 

Just think of how satisfying it’ll be to share this personal experience when imparting the age-old lesson of “don’t eat raw cookie dough.” It’s a parenting rite of passage!

Want to know which foods you should eat? Check our list!

What not to do

Strenuous exercise

Key word: strenuous. With everything happening in your body (you know, growing another human being and whatnot), the last thing you need is more physical stress. Overworking yourself can lead to a high-stress environment for your little one, unconducive to healthy development. More than likely, it is also unsustainable, which can increase risks like fainting and overheating. Pregnancy may not be the time to take up a competitive contact sport, but it is the perfect time to enjoy leisurely walks or relaxing yoga. When in doubt, discuss with your doctor and curate a personalized exercise program that keeps you, and baby, healthy. 

Clean the litterbox!

As precious as feline friends are, their waste is more parasitic than purr-fect. One parasite in particular, toxoplasma gondii, can result in miscarriage or stillbirth. Although it is not always fatal for fetuses, babies born with the parasite can suffer from mental disabilities, seizures, and vision problems.

There’s no need to be a scaredy cat, though! We’re just kitten around…but, fur real, being around cats does not pose a threat to moms or babies. Just ask a partner, neighbor, or friend to help clean up after your pet(s) when it comes to things like the litter box.

Stay in hot environments

Cozying up by the fireplace is one thing, but prolonged time in a sauna or hot tub is quite another. Sure, they might help relax muscles, but they also increase your risk of passing out, overheating, and dehydration. If you’re looking for a way to unwind, a warm bath is a much better option. Plus, you can personalize it however you want! Try bubbles, salts (we recommend Epsom salts), bath bombs, or flower petals if you’re feeling fancy… just don’t stay in for too long.

Okay, that’s enough for now. Consider this a helpful tool to keep in your arsenal as you navigate these changes, not a crushing list of rules. The first trimester will go by in a flash, so remember to enjoy the gifts of pregnancy and try not to dwell on doing everything perfectly. You’ve got this! 

Keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive, and your needs may be different, so always speak to your provider to stay on the healthiest path possible. 

Want personalized and holistic care? Connect with a Claris provider here.







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