Creating life is a complex process, so it should come as no surprise that there are numerous factors that can affect the health of your unborn child. What is surprising, however, are that there are plenty of things that can affect you and your child that most women don’t even know about, such as:

Your Regular Trip to the Salon Could Put You at Risk

For many years, women were told not to dye their hair while pregnant. Fortunately, we now know that it’s actually safe to do a little hair maintenance, including dying your hair, during those nine long months. However, there is one way that hair care can negatively impact your pregnancy and that’s by causing an allergic reaction. Pregnancy hormones can cause you to react negatively to chemicals that you previously had no issue with.

If you need to get your hair done (and you certainly shouldn’t skip out on self-care), your stylist can perform a patch test to check for allergies. They will simply apply a small amount of product to your wrist and wait to see if you react. If there is no reaction, then you’re free and clear to proceed!

Your Pets Can Make Your Baby Healthier

Many expectant mothers are overly worried about the effect of having pets in the home due to hygiene and the stress of taking care of an animal. New information, however, shows that having pets can have a positive effect on your pregnancy. According to an article posted on Microbiome, women who owned pets, especially dogs, had babies who showed a healthier population of the gut bacteria Ruminococcus and Oscillospira. These bacteria decrease the chances of obesity and allergies. The same study showed that babies who were exposed to pets in utero had a lower occurrence of allergies. So, you don’t need to get rid of your furry little friend; you can actually be helping your unborn child – talk about a great deal!

A Healthy Daddy Makes a Healthy Baby

While it’s well known that your partner can pass on genetic diseases and potential risk factors to your baby, it’s less common for women to consider the overall health of their partners at the time of conception. It may seem silly to think that if your partner is overweight at the time of conception, it can impact your pregnancy health, but science shows that it does.

One study published in the American Journal of Stem Cells found that factors including age, alcohol consumption, and diet can affect the health of your future child. A poor diet in your partner can lead to instances of cardiovascular disease in your baby. Even a potential dad under stress can cause cognitive and behavioral issues for your child down the road. The list clearly shows that just as a mother should prepare her body to conceive and carry a child, a father should prepare his as well.

Stay Away from Secondhand Smoke

It’s well known that mothers shouldn’t smoke while pregnant, but the dangers of cigarette smoke are so severe that it’s recommended to even avoid secondhand smoke. A link has been found which ties women who were exposed to secondhand smoke during their pregnancies to behavioral issues later in life, such as ADHD.

It’s also noted that some of the more commonly known side effects of smoking during pregnancy – such as low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome – could still manifest in pregnancies of women who were exposed to secondhand smoke. With so much on the line, it’s safe to say that expectant mothers should stay away from those who are smoking.

Your Sandwich is Not Your Friend

Many women know to avoid eating fish during pregnancy because of the effects of mercury on your growing child, but some lesser-known foods that can cause trouble are deli meats and cheeses. Certain deli meats and cheeses – particularly soft cheeses like brie and feta – can harbor bacteria that can be extremely dangerous for pregnant women. Luckily, there’s good news for you and your cravings: hard cheeses (think cheddar) and cheeses made from pasteurized milk are okay. If you absolutely must have deli meat, just pop it in the microwave. A hot ham and cheese sandwich can satisfy those crazy cravings while keeping you out of harm’s way.

Winter Babies Could be Early Arrivals

One of the weirder possibilities is that the season in which you conceive could have a negative impact on your pregnancy. A study has shown that babies conceived during the late winter/early spring have a higher rate of premature birth.

While reasons for this occurrence are only speculation, one potential cause is its intersection with Flu season; being sick can have a major impact on your body and the physical or mental stress of it can induce labor. There has also been a slight noted increase in premature labor for women who live in climates that experience very hot summers.

To deal with this, when weather conditions are extreme, take extra care to address your health. Wearing a face mask during the flu season, getting proper nutrition, drinking plenty of water, and resting when needed are all ways to prevent seasonally related preterm labor.