Are herbs and extra vitamins safe during pregnancy? Your prenatal vitamins should be the only supplement used during pregnancy unless your provider specifically directs you to use an additional product.
Are yeast infections common during pregnancy? Developing a yeast infection during pregnancy is actually more common than at any other time of a woman’s life. To treat this condition, it is safe to use over-the-counter products, such as Monistat. However, if you are early in your pregnancy, before 12 weeks, it is important that the cream be used externally only. After 12 weeks, it is safe to gently use the applicator internally.
Are hemorrhoids common during pregnancy? It is very common for pregnant women who are constipated to also experience hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are varicose, or swollen, veins in the rectum. Straining during bowel movements, and having very hard stools, may make hemorrhoids worse, and can sometimes cause them to protrude from the rectum. Check with your provider before taking any medication for hemorrhoids. Simply eating a high-fiber diet, and consuming plenty of liquids, can help you relieve or avoid this problem. Hemorrhoids usually improve after the baby is born.
How can I reduce or prevent heartburn? Indigestion, or heartburn, is a burning feeling that starts in the stomach and rises into the throat. It occurs when digested food from your stomach, which contains acid, is pushed up into your esophagus. Hormonal changes during pregnancy slow digestion and relax the muscle that prevents digested food and acids in your stomach from entering the esophagus. In addition, your growing uterus presses against your stomach. To help relieve heartburn, try the following:
- Eat five or six small meals a day. A glass of fluid may be equal in volume to a small meal, so avoid drinking large amounts of fluids with meals.
- Avoid foods that cause gas, such as spicy or greasy foods.
- Do not eat or drink several hours before bedtime.
- Wait two hours after eating before exercising.
- Take antacids, such as Maalox, Tums, or Gaviscon. Liquid medication will be more effective than tablets. If the problem is frequent, and only briefly relieved by antacids, speak with your doctor or midwife.
Is it safe to continue to have sexual intercourse during pregnancy? Your doctor or midwife may advise you to limit or avoid intercourse if there are signs of complications in your pregnancy. However, a healthy woman with a normal pregnancy is safe to have intercourse into her last weeks of pregnancy.
Is it safe to paint during pregnancy? Fumes from oil-based paints, turpentine, and paint thinner should be avoided during pregnancy. However, fumes from latex paints no longer pose the risk to developing babies, as they used to, but it is always wise to paint in a well-ventilated area. Pregnant women should also always avoid using a ladder, to reduce the risk falling.
Are leg cramps normal? In the last three months of pregnancy, you may experience more frequent leg cramping. To relieve these cramps, supplement plenty of calcium and potassium into your diet. Milk is a good source of calcium, while oranges and bananas are a good source of potassium. Stretching your legs before bed can also be beneficial, but avoid pointing your toes while stretching or exercising.
Is it normal for my gums to bleed during pregnancy? During pregnancy, the extra hormones in your body may cause your gums to swell and bleed. Floss and brush regularly, using a soft toothbrush, to keep your teeth in good shape. Having a dental checkup early in pregnancy is a good idea to be sure your mouth is healthy. Local anesthesia, if needed, does not pose a risk during pregnancy. Dental x-rays should only be done if necessary, and with your abdomen shielded.
What can I do to relieve constipation? Because pregnancy causes changes in hormones that slow the movement of food through the digestive tract, at least 50% of pregnant women experience problems with constipation. Taking iron supplements throughout pregnancy, and experiencing pressure on your rectum during the last part of pregnancy can also cause constipation. Here are some suggestions that may help:
- Drink plenty of liquids each day, including 6-8 glasses of water, and 1-2 glasses of fruit juice such as prune juice.
- Avoid liquids that generally cause frequent urination, such as coffee, tea and cola. These types of liquids tend to create a negative water balance in your body and thus make your stools harder and more difficult to pass.
- Eat food high in fiber, such as bran cereals, and raw fruits and vegetables.
- Exercise daily. Walking is good exercise during pregnancy.
What can I do for headaches during pregnancy? Headaches can unfortunately be very common during pregnancy. Although taking Tylenol (acetaminophen) is approved for use during pregnancy, it is important to discuss these headaches with your provider. If you do take Tylenol, take two regular tablets or one extra-strength tablet. You should contact your doctor if your headache does not go away, returns very often, is very severe, causes blurry vision or spots in front of your eyes, or is accompanied by nausea.
What should I do if I am pregnant and a family member has, or has been EXPOSED to CHICKENPOX? Most adults are immune to chicken pox, either from having the disease or by forming immunity from a mild exposure. If you have had chicken pox in the past, you and your baby are protected. If you are not sure, ask your doctor to check your immunity with a blood test. If it shows no immunity, a medicinal injection of Varicella Immune Globulin (VZIG) may be given to prevent chicken pox. However, in order to be effective, this injection must be given within 72 hours of exposure.
Is swelling normal, during pregnancy? A certain amount of swelling, called edema, is normal during pregnancy. Edema is caused by fluid retention, and usually occurs in the legs. This type of swelling commonly begins during the last few months of pregnancy, and may occur more often in the summer. Never take medications (water pills) for swelling unless you have had them prescribed. If you are experiencing edema in your legs, Women’s OB-GYN recommends doing the following:
Let your doctor or nurse know if you have swelling in your hands or face, because this may indicate other complications.
- Elevate your legs when possible.
- Rest in bed on your side.
- Do not wear stockings or socks that have a tight band of elastic around the legs.
- Stand up and move around every hour.
- Try not to stand still for long periods of time.
Is it safe to continue working during pregnancy? Most of the time, a healthy woman with no complications in her pregnancy can continue working until close to the day of delivery. However, during the end of your pregnancy, you may start to tire more easily, which could affect your ability at work. If you are experiencing problems that you feel may be related to your job, please discuss this at one of your office appointments.
Is it safe to exercise during pregnancy? Exercise can help strengthen muscles used in labor and delivery, while generating more energy and lessening some of the discomforts of pregnancy. Acceptable exercises should be determined individually, based on your health and how active you were before you became pregnant. Pregnancy is not a good time to take up a new, strenuous sport, but if you were active before, you can continue your routines within reason. Women’s OB-GYN recommends limiting exertion to about 2/3 of what you could do before pregnancy. Consult your provider regarding any further questions.
What can I do for nausea and vomiting during pregnancy? As nausea and vomiting can be very common during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester, Women’s OB-GYN suggests following these guidelines to help relieve nausea and vomiting:
- Avoid foods that are greasy, fried, very sweet, spicy, or odorous. These foods are commonly intolerable during pregnancy.
- Eat what stays down. Although it may not be incredibly healthy, it is better to eat that, than nothing.
- Try to eat six small meals each day. You should also eat small snacks between meals.
- Drink fluids between meals, rather than with meals.
- Eat foods that are at room temperature or cooler, as hot foods may trigger nausea.
- Avoid eating in a room that is stuffy, too warm, or that has pungent cooking odors.
- Drink chilled or cold beverages. Decaffeinated soda is often well tolerated, but avoid diet soda, as consuming more calories is important during pregnancy.
- Eat slowly and rest after meals. It is best to rest sitting in an upright position for about one hour after eating.
- Eat dry toast, soda crackers, or dry pre-sweetened cereals when nauseous.
- Keep track of when you feel nausea and what causes it.
- Do not eat or drink anything if continued vomiting occurs. After vomiting has stopped, and you feel better, try drinking small amounts of clear liquids, such as broth, Jell-O, apple juice, grape juice, cranberry juice, or popsicles.
- Eat tart or salty foods, such as lemons or pickles, to help decrease nausea.
- Avoid mixing hot and cold foods at a meal, as it may stimulate nausea.
- Wear loose fitting clothing.
- Ask your doctor about medicine to control nausea.
- Call your doctor if you experience the following symptoms:
- Inability to keep anything down for more than two days
- Vomiting blood
- Rib pain
- Jaundice (skin is greenish or yellow)
- Weight loss of more than five pounds in one week
Are saunas, hot tubs, and tanning booths safe during pregnancy? Saunas, hot tubs, and tanning booths should not be used during pregnancy because the extreme temperature could potentially damage the developing baby. Extremely hot baths should also be avoided. Women’s OB-GYN recommends that bath temperatures be below 100° Fahrenheit.
May I color or perm my hair during pregnancy? Although there is no scientific data on the effects of hair treatments on unborn children, it seems unlikely that these types of exposures are harmful.
What can I do for cold and allergy symptoms? Colds can make you feel miserable, even at the best of times, and during pregnancy there are increased concerns. However, there are many home remedies that can relieve symptoms, sometimes eliminating the need for an office visit.
- Use a cool mist vaporizer/humidifier at night. This moistens the air you breathe to keep secretions flowing.
- Gargle one teaspoon of salt in ½ cup warm water every four hours while awake. Doing this will reduce the amount of mucus in the back of the throat and relieve mild soreness.
- Use saline nose drops (NOT regular Afrin or Neo-Synephrine) before bed and in the morning. This will help moisten secretions.
- Take two Tylenol (plain) tablets every four hours, if necessary, for aches. Do not exceed more than six tablets within 24 hours. However, you should avoid doing this during the first trimester, and for one week before your triple test.
- Take your temperature, orally, twice daily – call us if your temperature is greater that 100.4° Fahrenheit.
- Drink one teaspoon of honey and 2-3 drops of lemon juice to relieve coughing. Hold this in your mouth until the honey thins and then swallow. If coughing becomes sever enough to interrupt sleep or cause vomiting, call your doctor. You may try Robitussin DM, an over-the-counter cough medication, after the first trimester.
- Increase fluids, especially water, to two quarts a day.
- Get extra rest, if possible.
- Take Actifed or Sudafed, as directed on the package, to relieve congestion. However, It is preferable that you not take this medication during your first trimester of pregnancy.
Should I refrain from traveling during pregnancy? While many patients ask if they can travel during their pregnancies, we recommend that you stay within an hour of Covenant HealthCare – Harrison, as there is always potential risk of complications anytime during your pregnancy. However, if travel is unavoidable, Women’s OB-GYN has provided a list of guidelines which should be followed.
- Once you have had your first normal ultrasound, traveling throughout the first trimester (13 weeks gestation) is usually safe. However, even after the first trimester, there is still a 2% risk of miscarrying, and hemorrhaging, which would require a dilation and curettage (D&C) procedure. While a D&C is considered a minor procedure at Women’s OB-GYN, it becomes much more difficult when in an unfamiliar area, away from your provider. If you do choose to travel during the first trimester, be sure you have easy access to a hospital that provides gynecologic services – not all hospitals do.
- Pregnancy hormones increase the risk of developing blood clots in the legs. Although rare, blood clots can migrate to the lungs. Because of this, Women’s OB-GYN recommends that throughout your pregnancy, you refrain from sitting for extended periods of time. If you will be traveling either by airplane or car, you should walk every hour in an effort to decrease the risk of blood clot development. Call immediately if you develop leg pain, swelling, shortness of breath, or chest pain.
- Travel between 20-36 weeks gestation is strongly discouraged for patients with a history of preterm labor, preterm delivery, previous surgery on their cervix, or any other risk factors for preterm birth, such as infection, or uterine anomaly. However, if you find that travel is essential, Women’s OB-GYN recommends that you schedule an appointment to check your cervix shortly before your departure. Be sure that you travel to places within an hour of a neonatal unit (a special hospital that cares for premature babies,) and remember to take your white card so that if you do experience problems, the physicians will have your information.
- After 36 weeks gestation, Women’s OB-GYN recommends that prior to traveling, you locate hospitals that have in-house anesthesia coverage with epidurals available and in-house pediatric care similar to that at Covenant HealthCare-Harrison.