Safe Behaviors when Pregnant
While pregnant, is it safe to:
No scientifically validated study of the safety of Prenatal Massage has been performed so it is difficult to accurately answer this question. However the following are generally viewed as reason NOT to have prenatal massage:
- You're experiencing nausea, vomiting, or morning sickness
- You're at high risk of miscarriage
- You have a high-risk pregnancy such as placental abruption (where the placenta slightly detaches from the wall of the uterus) or preterm labor
In any case, choose a massage therapist who is certified by the American Massage Therapy Association and who is also certified in Prenatal Massage. Check with your physician before booking a massage.
Roller-coasters thrill rides, and virtual rides are contraindicated during pregnancy because of the rapid starts and stops, jarring forces, and increased pressures that are part of the fun of these rides. Increased G-forces act within the uterus which theoretically could lead to premature separation of the placenta from the wall of the uterus, which is called placental abruption, a serious pregnancy complication.
Similarly low velocity motor vehicle accidents have caused placental abruption, miscarriage and other complications for women who are pregnant. These complications can happen in the absence of direct trauma to the uterus. Of course, some pregnant women have ridden the thrill rides without complication, but we recommend avoiding this particular risk!
The hair treatments in question during pregnancy include coloring, curling, bleaching and/or relaxing. It is likely that only a small amount of any hair treatment chemicals or dyes are actually absorbed into a woman’s system through her skin. This minimal amount is not thought to be enough to create a problem for the baby. The fixation solution used during permanents may irritate the scalp but not affect other areas of the body and a minimal amount would be absorbed. The same would be true of chemicals used in the straightening process. Breathing fumes during the process of hair treatments, however, could be harmful to the developing baby. Permanent hair dyes contain ammonia which has a strong chemical fume. The recommendation is to avoid hair dyes that contain ammonia. The chemical fume warning also applies to straightening products as well. Highlighting hair or dyeing with semi-permanent dyes is probably a safer solution to hair care due to
In summary, we recommend delaying chemical hair treatments until the second or third trimester, when the baby’s organs have been formed.
Manicure and/or Pedicure?
Nail-care and polish should be safe in pregnancy. Epoxy glue for nail extensions is probably best avoided.
The data linking birth defects to painting is based only on recreational abuse (“huffing”). Generally painting a room exposes you to very low levels of paint fumes.
We recommend avoiding exposure to oil-based paints, leads and mercury. Modern paints do not contain lead but paint used before the 1970’s do. Consequently we recommend against using scraping or sanding removing any old paint. Have someone else do this for you.
As far as latex paints go—avoid any that contain ethylene glycol esters and biocides. When using paint, be sure to wear long sleeves to protect your skin, take frequent breaks, ensure good ventilation and keep food and beverages away. In summary wear protective clothing, open windows and turn on fans.
Most cleaning products are safe to use in pregnancy with the following precautions:
- Use them in a well-ventilated space
- Wear gloves to protect your skin
- Don’t mix cleaning products. For example ammonia and bleach mixed together produce a caustic gas that can cause life-threatening injury to your lungs.
- Consider substituting vinegar and baking soda for more toxic products.
Sauna and Hot Tubs?
According to the Organization of Teratology Information Services (OTIS), a body temperature of 101º F and above can raise concerns during pregnancy. Some studies have shown an increased risk of birth defects in babies of women who had an increased body temperature during the first trimester of pregnancy. We also have concerns about faintness and dizziness related to a rising core temperature.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) states that becoming overheated in a hot tub is not recommended during pregnancy. ACOG also recommends that pregnant women never let their core body temperature rise above 102.2º F. These considerations apply to hot tubs as well as sauna.
So what is safe during pregnancy? Generally a warm to hot bath is safer than a hot tub. When taking a bath, your entire body is not submerged and your core temperature does not increase. In addition a hot water bath generally tends to cool over time and so do you. If you do chose to use a hot tub or sauna follow the following steps:
- Program your device to a lower temperature
- Limit use to 10 minutes before cooling off
- Use a thermometer to monitor the water or atmospheric temperature
- Be alert to signs of overheating such as weakness or failure to sweat
Ski or Snowboard?
Water and snow skiing, and snowboarding have high incidents of falls and pose significant risk of injuries. These activities are not recommended during pregnancy. We recommend against ice-skating, roller-blading, skateboarding and rock-climbing, in sort any activity with a high risk of falling for the same reasons.
In the absence of complications, pregnant women can travel up to 36 weeks during pregnancy. Air travel has been studies and it is generally safe during pregnancy. Studies on cosmic radiation during air travel show that airline travel exposes most passengers to no more than 15% of the limit for exposure. Flight crews or frequent flyer may exceed the recommended limit on exposure, however. For more information go to jag.cami.jccbigove/cariprofile.asp. Most commercial airlines allow pregnant women to fly up to 36 weeks gestation. Other considerations: choose an aisle seat so you can go to the bathroom more easily and try to get a seat near the front of the plane where the ride is smoother.
Travel by land can also be a good option as long as you take frequent rest stops, drive no more than 5 or 6 hours each day, and wear lap and shoulder belts. Give consideration to the weather forecast and route that you are traveling in case there is an emergency.
Bring a copy of your prenatal records along if you are traveling any distance.
Waxing and shaving should be safe during pregnancy. Avoid exposure, however, to chemical hair removers.
Dental care in pregnancy is not only safe, but an excellent preventative measure! Good gum and tooth care is important in having a healthy pregnancy. Gum disease has been linked to premature low birth weight babies and oral infections can cause systemic bacterial infections that can infect unborn babies. So brush your teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste. Brush your tongue to reduce bacteria and keep your breath fresh. Floss daily to care for the other 40% of the surface of your teeth. Avoid snacking, soda pop and fruit juice. Consult your dentist if you have swollen or bleeding gums or tooth pain.
If you have vomiting or morning sickness, rinse with a teaspoon of baking soda in water to keep harmful acids from building up your teeth. Wait to brush your teeth for 30 minutes.
Make a dental appointment in the 1st trimester. If you need treatment to solve dental problems, wait to between 14 and 20 weeks although dental care is safe throughout pregnancy. Be sure to tell you dentist that you are pregnant. X-rays should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, x-rays are generally safe during pregnancy, but there is quite a bit of controversy surrounding this issue. Studies have been conflicting, and therefore x-rays should only be done when the benefits outweigh the risks. X-rays can give your health care provider important and even life saving information about numerous medical conditions. Like many things, x-rays can have risks as well as benefits.
All X-rays do not carry the same radiation exposure. X-rays of the arms, legs, or chest do not expose you’re the baby to a direct beam. X-rays of the abdomen, stomach, pelvis, lower back and kidneys, unfortunately, do expose the baby to radiation energy. According to the American College of Radiology no single diagnostic x-ray has a radiation dose significant enough to cause adverse effects in a developing embryo or fetus.
Tattoos and Body Piercing?
Not much scientific data is available about tattoos and body piercing during pregnancy. Specifically there isn’t very much information about the safety of the dyes use in tattooing in the first trimester of pregnancy. In any case be sure that the services are performed by licensed professional using sterile instruments.
Many patients have questions about the safety of epidural in patients with low back tattoos. Again not much information is available but most anesthesiologists have no problem giving an epidural to a woman with a back tattoo.
Henna as a temporary tattoo is generally considered safe as long as it involves orange, red, brown, cinnamon, brick, chocolate, or coffee tattoos that last one to four weeks. Black henna tattoos are unsafe for everyone due to para-phenylendiamine (PPD), which causes burns, blisters and various reactions that may last for months.
Women are encouraged not to have piercings done on the bellybutton, nipples or genitals during pregnancy due to the physical changes that happen pregnancy. Specifically as your breasts and stomach grow, the holes may have trouble healing putting you at greater risk for infection. Nipple piercings are especially susceptible to stubborn infections and should be avoided if you’re pregnant or trying.
Most health care providers advise against any activity that might raise your body temperature, such as saunas or tanning beds. Overheating is associated with spinal malformations in the baby.
Some studies also link UV rays and folic acid deficiency. Folic acid prevents neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, and is especially important in the first trimester. During pregnancy, your skin is more susceptible to burning and chloasma, the dark splotches that appear on the face during pregnancy. Check with us about the safety of all types tanning during pregnancy.
Self-tanners contain the chemical dihydroxyacetone (DHA) which has been used since 1960 in cosmetics with no problems reported. Test a patch of skin before using these products as your skin may be much more sensitive during pregnancy.
Skin care in pregnancy is generally considered safe. Peels may lead to over-reaction in sensitive pregnancy skin. Generally, however, salicylic acid is considered to be safe. Microdermabrasion might be to irritating to sensitive skin.
Botox and fillers are contraindicated in pregnancy.