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Pregnancy do's & don'ts

When you learn that you are pregnant, you'll soon start wondering and worrying about what you should and shouldn't do, eat, drink or take. The good news? Most "rules" you will hear are fairly self-evident and are easy to remember. You will receive this information at a prenatal appointment, and you can always reference this page or call our office at 336-765-5470 if you have any questions. Always consult your physician for care questions specific to your pregnancy.

Prenatal vitamins

Taking prenatal vitamins is one of the easiest ways to make sure you have the nutrients you need to support the healthy development of your baby. There is no need for prescription prenatal vitamins. Over-the-counter vitamins have the iron, calcium, folic acid and other nutrients you need. Some recommended over-the-counter prenatal vitamins include:

  • CVS, Rite Aid, K-Mart, Walgreens or Target brand prenatal vitamins
  • Flintstones Complete Chewable (Take 2 per day)
  • K-Mart Vitasmart Chewable
  • Spring Valley Prenatal (Wal-Mart)
  • Stuart Prenatal

If you find prenatal vitamins make you nauseous, try taking them with a small snack at bedtime or with a meal earlier in the day. Vitamins might also cause constipation, which can be counteracted with more water, exercise or fiber. An over-the-counter stool softener such as Colace can also help.


Exercise during a routine pregnancy is recommended to combat excessive weight gain, hand and foot swelling, leg cramps, varicose veins, insomnia, fatigue and constipation. During a routine pregnancy:

  • Aim for 30 minutes per day of low to moderate intensity physical activity such as swimming, aerobics, yoga, walking, running or stationary cycling.
  • You can generally continue your regular exercise routine from before you were pregnant. However, now is not the best time to start a new routine.
  • Avoid contact sports including hockey, boxing, wrestling, football, basketball or soccer. Also avoid sports that have a risk of falls or abdominal trauma including gymnastics, horseback riding, skating, skiing, heavy weight lifting and SCUBA diving.
  • Stop exercising and call our office at 336-765-5437 if you experience increased uterine contractions, vaginal bleeding, dizziness or faintness, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, persistent nausea or vomiting, or extreme pain or numbness anywhere in your body. 

If you have complications during your pregnancy, talk to your physician about what level of activity and exercise is appropriate. 

Medications during pregnancy

When you take medicine, in many cases that medicine makes its way to your baby. Since little concrete information is available about the effects of drugs on unborn babies, it is best to avoid medicines whenever possible. Try to completely avoid medicines in the first trimester (before 12 weeks). After that, choose the lowest effective dose of the medicine for the shortest period of time. 

Here are some safe medications to take during pregnancy, listed by common ailment:

Headaches, aches & pains

Tylenol (Acetominophen)


Sudafed (Pseudophedrine), Tylenol Cold, Saline Nasal Sprays/Drops

Cough, Sore Throat

Robitussin, Robitussin DM, Cough Lozenges, Chloraseptic


Allegra, Benadryl, Claritin, Chlortrimeton, Zyrtec, Tavist

Indigestion & heartburn

Tums, Rolaids, Maalox, Mylanta, Zantac

Nausea & vomiting

Emetrol, Vitamin B6, Unisom, Benadryl


Imodium AD, Kaopectate


Metamucil, Citrucel, Fibercon, Colace, Senekot


Anusol, Preparation H, Tucks Pads (Witch Hazel)

Vaginal yeast infection

Monistat-7, Gyne-Lotrimin


Rid, Pronto, R&C

Flu vaccine

The flu vaccine is strongly recommended for any pregnant woman. The flu shot is safe during any trimester. Get the shot and not the nasal spray.

Medications to avoid

  • Pepto-Bismol
  • Alka Seltzer
  • Goody Powders
  • Aspirin
  • Advil (Ibuprofen)
  • Alleve (Naproxen)
  • Orudis (Ketoprofen)
  • NSAIDS (Anti-Inflammatories)
  • Nyquil
  • Any medication containing alcohol

Diet during pregnancy

At some point in your pregnancy, you might want to eat absolutely nothing. At another point, you might want to eat everything in sight. The registered dietitians at Novant Health WomanCare can help you develop a good pregnancy diet, and can answer your questions about good nutrition during pregnancy.

While pregnant, you are at a higher risk for food-borne illnesses. Wash hands and surfaces often, cook foods thoroughly, keep raw and prepared foods separate, and never eat refrigerated foods that have been allowed to get warm or cooked foods that have cooled outside of a refrigerator.

Foods to avoid

  • Raw or undercooked eggs (homemade Caesar dressing, soft-boiled eggs, meringue pies, hollandaise sauces)
  • Raw dairy products (unpasteurized milk or cheeses; soft cheeses including brie, camembert, feta, blue, queso fresco blanco and gorgonzola)
  • Refrigerated or deli patés, meat spreads, smoked seafood (lox, salmon or trout; often labeled nova style, kippered or jerky)
  • Raw or rare meat
  • Raw or undercooked shellfish
  • Raw fish (sushi)
  • Deli meats, lunch meats, hot dogs (UNLESS they are heated until they are steaming)
  • Raw sprouts (alfalfa)
  • Fish with high levels or mercury including shark, swordfish, tilefish and king mackerel

Limit fish consumption to 12 ounces per week. Avoid tuna steaks, but up to 6 ounces of canned tuna can be eaten each week. Limit locally-caught fish to 6 ounces per week.