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4th of July Pregnancy Safety Tips

by Katlyn Joy | July 4, 2014 7:54 AM
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Nothing says summer fun like a gathering on July 4th. But when you are pregnant, you have some different concerns than before. Here are some tips to keep things fun but safe, and even some healthy BBQ ideas to boot!

4th of July Safety Tips for Pregnant Moms

While gas or charcoal smoke shouldn't pose any toxic threats to mother or baby, it's still not a bad idea to mostly steer clear of them. However, anytime you use a grill, it must be adequately ventilated. Should they not be, there is a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The other big danger from grills? Burns. Unless you are unusually clumsy, even for a pregnant woman, you're unlikely to topple into the grill.

Fourth of July is typically a very hot time of year in most climates, so take heed to prevent dehydration. Drink plenty of water, and avoid caffeinated drinks which only dehydrate you more. If you feel at all too warm, get into some shade, or preferably air conditioning. A pregnant woman should never allow herself to get overheated. That means avoiding hot tubs, or only dangling your feet or legs in the water. Never allow yourself to be submerged to chest or shoulders, as it will raise your body temperature to an unsafe level.

Wear sunscreen, and reapply as directed, usually every 20 minutes or so, particularly if in water. Swimming can be great for pregnant women, making them feel supported in the water by the buoyancy. However, you need to be extra cautious while pregnant, since you are quite prone to muscle cramps.

If you have to travel to your 4th of July gatherings, make sure you give yourself plenty of time. You should take frequent breaks to get out and stretch your legs, but chances are your bladder will see to that. You should plan to stop once every hour or so. Bring a water bottle with you so you don't have to rely on gas stations for hydration. It wouldn't hurt to know where the local hospitals are located, either.

If you are somewhere that people enjoy setting off fireworks on their own, watch from a safe distance and don't handle any explosives yourself. It's just not a good idea!

Food Safety

Of course, food is the main attraction of most 4th of July celebrations. Not to be a downer, there are some foods you need to make sure are prepared and stored safely.

Hot dogs.

These traditional picnic meats are fine to eat while pregnant, just make sure they are steaming when you eat them, to be sure they were properly heated. If you aren't certain, microwave them. This is to prevent the food borne illness, listeria.

Other meats.

You never want to eat anything that isn't medium to well done. Rare is absolutely a no-no for a pregnant woman. However, you don't want your meat charred, either. The reason is that meat's fats and the grilling combine to create harmful substances called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAH for short. PAH is considered carcinogenic, and a recent study published in the journal Nutrition found that women who consumed grilled meats had babies who were on average six ounces lighter and of shorter length and head circumference. PAH is believed to be the culprit. While having an occasional BBQ is unlikely to have a noticeable effect, a regular diet of grilled meat is probably not a wise option for a pregnant woman. To reduce the grilling time, you can precook meats before putting them on the grill.

Side dishes like salads.

The risks of listeria come with picnic faves like potato or macaroni salad, as well as hot dogs and lunch meats. To protect yourself, make sure you eat them when they are still chilled. Anything left out in the sun, or in the open air, longer than a couple hours is risky.

Watch out for cross contamination.

Is the chef carelessly handling raw and cooked meats simultaneously or placing them in the same area? If so, politely decline the food. You could get food poisoning, and that may cause miscarriage.

Skip homemade ice cream, as difficult as that may be as most recipes involve raw eggs, a salmonella risk.

With these few caveats, you can enjoy a fun and safe 4th of July!


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