When you're pregnant, certain everyday things like bacteria can pose potential risks.
Here are some simple steps you can take to keep yourself and your baby healthy.
Make Sure Your Drinking Water's Safe
If your water comes from a private well or other non-regulated source like a creek or lake, get the water tested by a laboratory to make sure it's safe to drink. Untreated water can contain harmful bacteria and chemicals. For example, high levels of nitrates have been found in wells throughout B.C. High levels of nitrates can be dangerous for babies, interfering with their blood’s ability to carry oxygen. In severe cases, this can cause death.
If your drinking water source is a creek, river or lake, you should also boil it before drinking. Boiling does not remove chemicals but it kills harmful bacteria.
Testing Well Water
For more information about getting your well water tested, see the HealthLink BC file Should I Get My Well Water Tested?. For more information about the dangers of nitrates in well water, see the HealthLink BC file Nitrate Contamination in Well Water.
Avoid Cat Feces
If you have a cat, be sure to protect yourself from its feces (poop) while you're pregnant. Otherwise, you can get a parasite that may cause a serious infection called toxoplasmosis in your unborn baby. This can result in miscarriage or birth defects. Toxoplasmosis is often mild or without symptoms and can be mistaken for the flu in pregnant women.
To protect yourself from exposure to cat feces:
Have someone else empty the litter box, or wear gloves and wash your hands well.
In the garden, wear gloves and avoid direct contact with soil that may contain cat feces.
Always wash your hands well with soap and water after handling pets.
Toxoplasmosis can come from other sources, so take precautions to avoid unpasteurized dairy, and wash hands and preparation surfaces after handling raw meat.
Some medical tests are not safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Before having X rays, dental X rays, CT scans, and other tests, be sure to tell the technician you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Use Caution With Hot Tubs
Hot tubs and saunas can be relaxing and soothing, but when you’re pregnant it’s important not to increase your inner body temperature. Overheating can harm your baby's healthy development.
If you choose to use a hot tub or sauna:
Keep the temperature below 38.9°C.
Limit your soak or steam to 10 minutes, or less if you feel uncomfortable.
Have another adult with you.
Get out right away if you feel dizzy or faint, or have a rapid pulse, irregular heartbeat, stomach pain or tingling in your feet and hands.
Resources and Links
HealthLink BC: Toxoplasmosis during Pregnancy
HealthLink BC: Residential Hot Tubs and Pools: Health and Safety Tips
HealthLink BC: Pregnancy: Chemicals, Cosmetics and Radiation