Preparing for Pregnancy, Work & Home Environment

For most of us, the bulk of our time is spent either at home or at work, and as such maintaining a healthy, safe, and enriching work and home environment can have a big impact on a pregnancy. This is particularly true if you happen to work in an environment where you might potentially be exposed to harmful substances, which can have an effect on your general health, fertility, or child once pregnant.

It is important to deal with these environmental issues before the pregnancy as more often than not you might not notice you are pregnant for a couple of weeks! In the matter of pregnancy, it is definitely better to err on the side of caution. While you may think taking these precautions is more the premise of women, the substances discussed in this article can just as easily affect male fertility.

What to watch out for

In most cases you will already be aware of the presence of any potentially harmful substances in your environment, whether at home or at work. However just in case you aren’t aware of any environmental or health issues, these are some things to watch out for:

  1. Toxic compounds these will usually bear a warning sign, and examples include heavy metals like lead and mercury. If your workplace makes use of pesticides for instance, or paint thinners (and some paints), then these should be avoided prior to and during a pregnancy. Some cleaning fluids are also quite potent and as such can be harmful.
  2. Radiation is always something to be wary of, and this is more true when a potential pregnancy and unborn child are involved. Radiation isn’t just released at nuclear power stations; it is in fact used in a number of different diagnostic medical machines, most notably X-ray machines.
  3. Physical stress can be particularly detrimental to a pregnancy if you are a woman, and ensuring that you aren’t involved in lifting and moving heavy loads is very important. Physical stress can also include staying on your feet for extended periods of time, or having to walk around in poor weather. Physical strain becomes more of an issue towards the end of a pregnancy, when your body is already under a considerable amount of stress.
  4. Second hand smoke can be as harmful as smoking itself. The negative effects of smoke, whether from cigarettes, machinery, cigars, or any other source are well documented, and they include a detrimental effect on your fertility and, potentially, a future pregnancy.
  5. Exposure to viruses and other pathogens can cause illnesses, which might impact your fertility or pregnancy. These can come from contact with children if you are a teacher or medical professional. If you haven’t been exposed to a childhood virus in the past then you are particularly vulnerable to them as an adult, and as such extra care must be taken to avoid such contact if you are looking to get pregnant.
  6. Anaesthetic gases which are a routine part of many medical procedures can be more harmful to you if you are looking to conceive as, again, you may not realize that you are pregnant for the first couple of weeks of your pregnancy, a period during which these substances can have a harmful effect on you and your pregnancy.
  7. Uncooked meat, fish, poultry, and unpasteurized milk can host harmful bacteria like listeria, which can be quite harmful. Similarly if you have a cat then kitty litter can harbour toxoplasmosis.

Other general advice

Apart from the list of potentially harmful environmental agents discussed above, there are other general tips, which you can take into account both at home and at work. These are simple measures like thoroughly cooking any food you or your partner intend on eating, including leftovers or ready meals, and making sure you abide by expiration/ use by dates.

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