Pregnant Woman

Is It Safe – Pregnancy FAQ’s

Pregnancy brings along a bundle of inevitable anxieties, apprehensions, concerns and doubts. Everything you do or eat may seem to bother you after all, “Is this Safe?” “Will it harm my baby?” Doubts like these could pop up all the time, making it hard to keep your sanity intact. Although pregnancy and babies aren’t as delicate as commonly perceived, it is quite understandable why couples often go through this anxiety. It is absolutely normal and it helps to have these concerns addressed by an expert.

If you are constantly worried about your pregnancy and things that you should be doing or not doing, do not hesitate to share your concerns with your physician. At times, all you need is a reassuring “Of course, its OK” from someone you trust. To ease some of your fears out, we spoke to a few experts about some commonly asked pregnancy questions.

Is it safe to have intercourse during pregnancy?

Intercourse in a normal pregnancy is absolutely safe. However, if you have a history of threatened abortion or premature labour or miscarriage, then your doctor may advice you to avoid it till the time your pregnancy is safe.

There is often a fear and misconception that intercourse may harm the baby or lead to miscarriage, but the act of intercourse as such is not threatening, as is commonly perceived. Normally uterine contractions during intercourse do not cause any premature labour or miscarriage. In some cases, especially in those who have a tendency for premature labour, these uterine contractions may be followed by further contractions and labour. Intercourse need not be avoided unless your doctor has advised you to do so, mostly due to a history of miscarriage or premature labour.

Is it safe to exercise during pregnancy?

Exercise is not only safe, but also recommended during pregnancy. Exercise keeps your muscles toned and flexible and also prepares your body for labour and childbirth.  Exercise also reduces the discomforts that come with pregnancy. However, exercises should be done keeping the limitations and needs of a pregnant body in mind. Those exercises that are likely to cause a fall, like skiing and horse riding are best avoided. Also avoid exercises that can put strain on the back or that need more balancing, especially after the first trimester.

It is recommended that you follow some simple and safe pregnancy exercises that are specifically meant for the pregnant body. Yoga, swimming, and walking are great ways of exercising safely.

Also read Exercising during pregnancy.

Is it safe to take medications during pregnancy?

While some types of medications are safe, others are not. Most of the over the counter (OTC) medicines are described as safe, but there isn’t sufficient evidence to consider them absolutely safe for pregnancy as drug trials are often conducted on animals, not pregnant women. Hence it goes without saying that you need to discuss with your doctor about the safety of any medicine before you take it. The risk of damage to the foetus is greatest in the first few weeks of pregnancy, which is when the major organs are developing. Extreme caution is required while taking any kind of medication during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Although Folic acid and Vitamin B6 are safe to use during early pregnancy, care should be taken while using multivitamin tablets. Overdose of multivitamins is not good for the baby and the pregnancy. Always consume vitamins that are specifically meant for pregnancy and follow the dosage as prescribed by the doctor.

Not many scientific studies have been conducted on the effects of herbal medicines on pregnant women and foetuses, hence it is best to take your doctors consent before you to take any kind of herbal medication.

Is it safe to travel during pregnancy?

Yes, travel during pregnancy is fine, unless you are closer to the due date or your doctor has advised you to abstain from traveling due to difficulties in your pregnancy.

The safest period for any kind of travel is between 18-24 weeks. Occasional air travel should not pose any risk to the mother or fetus. Almost all commercial airline flights maintain appropriate cabin pressure, hence air travel is considered safe. If you are traveling by road, make sure the roads are not very bumpy and every once in a while you have a chance to get off the vehicle to stretch and move around. Long distance travels after 36 weeks are best avoided.

Pregnant women with certain medical conditions like high blood pressure, severe diabetes, anaemia or placental problems are advised not to fly or travel long distances . Always inform your doctor if you are planning a long distance travel, especially during the third trimester.

Is it safe to drink coffee during pregnancy?

Small amounts of caffeine, say the amount in one or two cups of coffee have not shown to cause any kind of effects on pregnancy. However, studies have confirmed that large amounts of caffeine consumption  could put the pregnancy at risk. Different studies have linked excess caffeine with miscarriage, stillbirth, and other complications. Caffeine also inhibits Iron absorption which can lead to anaemia during pregnancy.

Caffeine is not only present in coffee, but also other beverages like soft drinks, tea and chocolates. Hence it is important to not only avoid coffee but also limit the overall intake of caffeine from other sources.

Is it safe to use artificial sweeteners during pregnancy? 

There are too many confusing opinions and not sufficient scientific data to speak about the effects of artificial sweeteners on pregnant women and foetuses. Artificial sweeteners are usually consumed as an alternative to sugar, they are also common additives in low calorie sweets, gums, ice creams and beverages. Pregnant women can safely use low-calorie sweeteners in moderation, unless otherwise advised by their physicians. Since research is limited on the safety of sweeteners, most healthcare providers suggest limiting artificially sweetened foods in your diet to only 2 or 3 servings a day.

Is it safe to consume alcohol during pregnancy?

Doctors have always advised pregnant women to refrain from alcohol. Studies have shown that alcohol does have some serious effects on the foetus. There is no real answer as to what amount of alcohol is safe for consumption, but getting drunk is a definite NO.

Is it safe to get my hair colored or treated during pregnancy?

There are not many studies conducted on the effects of hair treatment on pregnancy and most of the studies conducted on animals have not shown any damage to the foetus. Hair dyes and chemicals used for hair treatment can be absorbed into the bloodstream, but the absorption through scalp is minimal and it is unlikely that these amounts could cause foetal damage. The risk would further minimize if the hair treatment were done after 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Is it safe to eat Chinese food during pregnancy?

Chinese food can be safely consumed during pregnancy. Most of the concerns about Chinese food are related to an ingredient called Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) used in Chinese cooking. MSG is a flavor enhancer and is not only used in Chinese food but also in a variety of foods and snacks like crackers, sauces, processed foods, chips and dips. MSG has been generally recognized as safe. However, MSG contains a lot of salt and hence its intake should be restricted, especially if you have Oedema or Hypertension during pregnancy. Some people are allergic to MSG; If you have an MSG allergy, then you should be avoiding any food that contains MSG.

If you are expecting a baby and have some concerns about your own pregnancy, do share them with us by commenting below. We would like to add more questions and keep this FAQ growing.

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