Not all pregnancies are planned, many are a happy surprise. One of the big worries Mums in this situation can have is that since they did not really know they would become pregnant that some of the bad habits they have – and almost all of us have some – may have already some how harmed their child before they ever really knew it existed. The good news though is that it is never too late to try and break a habit that could harm your baby.

Smoking

Unexpectedly finding out you are expecting if you smoke means that you will immediately come under pressure from everyone – your family, your friends, your doctor – to quit. If it were just that easy though you probably would not still be a smoker in the first place.

Although there is a lot of disagreement these days about just how bad certain habits really are when you are expecting you will not find anyone these days who will tell you that it is OK to continue to smoke once you are pregnant.

Stick with your efforts to quit but don’t let other people stress you out even more with their disapproval. This will only make your task even harder. Smile and tell them you are trying to stop smoking and hope to be there very soon.

There are a lot of resources out there to help you kick the habit and although it may not happen overnight because you are committed to having a healthy baby you will manage it. Best of all once you do you will be in far better health yourself as well and better prepared for both the rest of your pregnancy and life once you become a busy new Mum.

Alcohol

The debate over whether or not is OK for a pregnant woman to still indulge in the occasional alcoholic drink once in a while still rages on. Some experts and doctors feel a glass of wine occasionally is OK and there are a few research studies that back that up while others think whatever recent research might say that the risk is not worth taking.

This debate aside many women worry that the fact that they were out partying with their girlfriends and had a few too many to drink when their pregnancy was so new that they did not know about it will have already harmed their fetus.

That is unlikely to be the case though. Fetal alcohol syndrome – the serious condition which is the one that most people are talking about when they discuss the effects of drinking alcohol during pregnancy occurs in women who drink heavily on a regular basis.

Medical professionals agree that women who are pregnant should at least seriously curtail their alcohol consumption when they discover they are expecting. If you do decide to continue to have the occasional glass of wine make it just that, occasional, limiting it to two units a week at the most (one unit would be half a glass of wine)

A Bad Diet

Most of us try to eat well but there are still temptations that are hard to resist. Sometimes, especially if you are in a rush, picking up dinner from the local McDonalds is just so much easier than cooking and their fries are really good..

Fast food is just one example of the kind of junk food you should try to cut out of your diet as early in your pregnancy as possible. In general you should now limit the amount of sugar and fat you consume and increase the number of servings of fruits, vegetable and lean protein you eat every week. Unless you are a real salt freak don’t cut back on salt too far though. You need the sodium and even a little bit more than usual when you are expecting as more is lost in urine. Opt for salt with iodine in it though, as that is another nutrient you need.

One thing that many women overlook is a less than healthy soda habit. regular soda is packed full of sugar and most of it is loaded with caffeine (and calories) The current recommendation is that pregnant women should limit their caffeine intake to 200mg a day. There are 35 mgs in a can of Coca Cola Classic, even if you opt to cut out the sugar by going for diet.

Cafe Coffee

If you are a Starbucks fiend the good news is that most medical professionals agree that a cup of coffee or two a day is fine if you are pregnant, as long as you keep your total caffeine consumption in a day to 200mg or under. The bad news is that a tall (12oz) cup of regular brewed coffee at Starbucks and similar chains has around 260 mg, so you will have exceeded that limit with just a single cup.

Brewing coffee at home, using a half and half (half regular half decaf) blend will allow you to have a few more cups of java but there are a few offerings at cafes that have less caffeine you can consider if you want a treat. For example the cappucino at Starbucks has far less caffeine – just 75mg in a tall – but to make it a bit healthier pass on the sugar.

The most important thing to remember is that it is never too late to change bad habits, even when you are expecting. If you have problems making adjustments (willpower can be hard for anyone to find) talk to your gynae or obstetrician about your concerns, they will be happy to help you make a plan to live healthier while you are pregnant and to continue to do so after baby is born.

Here’s a short article at Oprah.com on how to break old habits. It’s a little short, but useful nonetheless: Break Old Habits