Below are some frequently asked questions regarding pregnancy; please click on the question to view the answers.
As always, feel free to call Evergreen Women's Health Center (425.285.0060) with any questions or concerns you may have.
The following medications have no known harmful effects during pregnancy when taken according to package directions. They have been approved by your provider for use during pregnancy, and can be purchased at a drug store or grocery store. Please note that no medication can be considered 100% safe to use during pregnancy. If you would like to know about the safety of other medications not listed here, please contact your health care provider.
Weight should be gained slowly and steadily, and varies from woman to woman. The average weight gain during pregnancy is 25-40 pounds. Talk to your health care provider if you have questions regarding your individual goal weight gain.
Foods to avoid in pregnancy are raw eggs, unpasteurized dairy products, and undercooked meat. Certain types of fish should not be eaten more than once a week, including canned tuna, mahi mahi, halibut, pollock and cod. Tuna steaks, shark, swordfish, tile fish, and sea bass should not be consumed. All other types of seafood are safe to eat
Exercise is encouraged during pregnancy. Most types of exercise are safe, but you should avoid activities that increase your risk of falls or injury. Walking, swimming, and yoga are great forms of exercise during pregnancy. After the first five months, it is best to avoid lying flat on your back, as the baby’s weight can interfere with blood circulation. Make sure to stay well-hydrated and stop exercising if you notice shortness of breath, dizziness, blurry vision, chest pain, or severe abdominal or pelvic pain.
Most researchers agree that, although caffeine does cross the placenta, moderate amounts (about 300 mg a day) will not harm your baby. This represents about two 8-ounce cups of coffee, two shots of espresso, or two caffeinated sodas daily. Keep in mind the serving size of your mug or cup (typically around 12-16 oz)!
Usually it is safe to travel during the first 8 months of pregnancy. The main concerns with travel during pregnancy are access to medical care, discomfort, getting enough exercise and fluids, and having a healthy diet. If you have any medical or obstetric complications, such as poorly controlled diabetes, placental problems, or pregnancy induced high blood pressure, your provider may recommend that you not travel at any time during your pregnancy.
Generally, the safest time to travel during pregnancy is the second trimester (13 to 28 weeks). At this time you are in the least danger of having a miscarriage or premature labor. Although it is safe to travel at any point during your pregnancy, your physician may not want you to travel far distances by airplane after approximately 35 weeks. Access to medical care is restricted during the plane flight should you need medical attention. In addition, both you and your physician may prefer you to stay closer to home late in your pregnancy to ensure that you receive proper medical attention if you go into labor. If you have had complications during your pregnancy, your physician may prefer you to stay close to home so that prompt intervention may be undertaken if problems arise.
Should you choose to travel, here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:
Vaccination against influenza has been shown to be safe in pregnancy. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends seasonal flu shots for anyone who will be pregnant during flu season - typically November through March - unless you have a severe allergy to eggs or you've had a severe reaction to a previous flu vaccination.
Pregnancy puts extra stress on your heart and lungs, and can affect your immune system. These factors increase the risk of getting the flu or developing serious complications of the flu such as pneumonia and respiratory distress. Flu complications may lead to miscarriage, premature labor or other pregnancy complications. A seasonal flu vaccine can help prevent these complications.
Dental work during pregnancy is safe. Preventive dental cleanings and annual exams during pregnancy are not only safe, but are recommended. The rise in hormone levels during pregnancy causes the gums to swell, bleed, and trap food causing increased irritation to your gums. Preventive dental work is essential to avoid oral infections.
It is safe to have your teeth cleaned, cavities filled, root-canal work, or tooth extractions during pregnancy. The safest course of action is to postpone all unnecessary dental work until after the birth. However, sometimes emergency dental work such as a root canal or tooth extraction is necessary. Be sure to let your dentist know that you are pregnant, so that he or she can avoid certain anesthetic medications. Local anesthetics are safe during pregnancy. Additionally, most antibiotics used during dental procedures are safe during pregnancy as well. Again, just inform your dentist so he or she can contact your physician if there is a question.
It is also safe to have x-rays of your teeth during pregnancy. 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. Let your dentist know you are pregnant, and the dentist will shield your abdomen during the x-rays.
Elective treatments, such as teeth whitening and other cosmetic procedures, should be postponed until after the birth. It is best to avoid exposing the developing baby to any risks, even if they are minimal.
Sleeping on your back:
Early in the pregnancy, sleeping on your back is safe. In the third trimester (starting around 28 weeks), it is not recommended that you lie flat on your back for a prolonged period of time because the weight of your uterus presses on the major vein in your back. When you are sleeping, it is hard to control your position. If you wake up on your back, you probably awakened because your body was telling you to shift position. Some women wake up feeling dizzy, short of breath, or with heart palpitations. These symptoms should resolve quickly if you shift to either side. As your pregnancy progresses, try to sleep on one side or the other, or use a cushion to ensure that you are not completely flat on your back to avoid nighttime awakenings and ensure proper blood flow to your baby.
Sleeping on your stomach:
There is no problem with sleeping on your stomach in early pregnancy, as the uterus is protected by your pubic bone. As the pregnancy progresses, sleeping on your stomach will become uncomfortable, which is the cue to stop. It will not hurt your baby.
Sleep medications during pregnancy:
Some prescription sleep aids can be used in pregnancy but should be discussed with your OB provider before starting. These medications can be habit forming, and in general are used sparingly in pregnancy. There are over-the-counter sleep aids that are safe to use during pregnancy and are not habit forming, including Benadryl, Tylenol PM and Unisom. These medications should be taken according to the directions on the package.
Using an electric blanket:
Electric blankets are safe to use in pregnancy as long as the temperature setting is not too high. In general, this means high enough to keep you warm, but not so high as to burn you or elevate your temperature. If you are concerned, you can take your temperature to make sure it is in normal range, under 100 degrees.
Pregnancy sleep tips:
The harmful effects of alcohol consumption during pregnancy are well-known and include physical defects, learning disabilities, and emotional problems in children. Experts haven’t yet defined a safe level of alcohol for women who are pregnant, nor do they know whether or how babies differ in their sensitivity or reaction to alcohol. Although you shouldn’t worry about alcohol you drank before you found out you were pregnant, you should abstain from any further consumption and avoid all alcoholic beverages. Let your health care provider know if you are finding it difficult to stop drinking alcohol. Another good resource is Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers, which offer evaluation and treatment for alcohol addiction. You may contact them or get a listing of locations at 1.800.231.4303, 425.823.3116, or www.lakesidemilam.com.
Always wear a seatbelt when driving or riding in a vehicle. Avoid activities that may cause injury or falls. Avoid completely immersing yourself in hot tubs. Seek other medical or dental care when needed, but make sure providers know you are pregnant.
If you do not feel safe at home with your partner, please let your health care provider know immediately so that we may be of assistance.
In most cases, intercourse throughout the pregnancy is fine. Intercourse will not cause a miscarriage. Miscarriages that occur commonly do so as a result of a chromosomal abnormality or other problem with the developing fetus, not from anything you do or don’t do. Intercourse will not harm the fetus. It is well protected by the abdomen, amniotic fluid, and cervical mucous plug, which prevents semen and bacteria from entering the uterus. Orgasms can cause contractions; however, most research indicates that if you have a normal pregnancy, orgasm—with or without intercourse—does not lead to premature labor or birth. If certain problems are present, your provider may ask you to stop having intercourse. If you have a new sexual partner during your pregnancy, please use condoms to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
When you smoke, the placenta is deprived of nutrients and oxygen, which means that less of these get to the developing fetus. Babies born to mothers who smoke are more likely to be low birth weight and have health problems such as poor lung function. Smoking can also lead to pre-term labor and an increased risk of placenta previa, or when the placenta covers the opening to the uterus. If you need assistance with quitting smoking, please let you health care provider know. Nicotine replacement patches and medications such as Wellbutrin are approved to use during pregnancy and are preferable to smoking.
Using drugs such as marijuana, heroin, cocaine, and meth during pregnancy has adverse effects on the developing fetus and newborn. These drugs cross the placenta and enter the fetal blood stream. Use of these drugs can affect central nervous system functioning and can lead to premature delivery, growth retardation, withdrawal symptoms in the newborn, behavioral problems, or even stillbirth. If you use illegal drugs, please notify your health care provider so that we may help you. Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers may also provide assistance with drug addiction (please see contact information above under “Alcohol”).