Safety in Pregnancy

Alcohol, cigarettes, and street drugs

  • Alcohol (beer, wine, and liquor) can hurt your baby’s brain and body.
  • Cigarettes can cause your baby to be born too early or too small.
  • Secondhand smoke (the smoke from another person smoking) can hurt your baby.
  • Street drugs can hurt your baby’s brain and cause labor to begin too early.

Do you need help to stop?
Smoking Cessation Program: 617 414 4847
Substance Use and Pregnancy Helpline: 617 414 4165


Avoid breathing strong-smelling chemicals in your home or workplace. Chemicals include paint, cleaning fluids, and varnish.

Dirty cat litter

Cat stool (poop) can have a virus called toxoplasmosis. Getting sick with this virus could harm your baby. Have someone else change the cat litter.

Hot tubs or saunas

You may become too hot in a hot tub or sauna. This can hurt your baby’s brain and body.


More than 2 drinks with caffeine a day may affect your pregnancy. Some drinks with caffeine are coffee, tea, and certain sodas.

Fish with mercury

Fish is very good for you and you should eat it during pregnancy. Mercury is a poisonous metal found in some fish. These fish include shark, swordfish, and king mackerel. Avoid eating a lot of fish with mercury.

Foods with germs that could harm your baby

Raw or under-cooked raw meat, fish, shellfish, and eggs. Unpasteurized cheese, milk, or juice.

Traveling while pregnant

Most women can travel up to the last month of pregnancy. Wear your seat belt. Take breaks when driving. Get up and walk around every hour when flying. Drink plenty of water. Take a copy of your prenatal records with you.