Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The dos and don'ts during pregnancy

Separate the myths from the facts with our pregnancy FAQ.
The dos and don'ts during pregnancy
Sex is in and smoking is obviously out but there is a veritable list of activities that raise doubts in the minds of first-time mums. Here, Dr Gino Pecoraro, College spokesperson of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, shares his advice on some common dos and don'ts during pregnancy.

Can I eat processed meats – especially on pizza?

"You can't eat fresh meat from a deli, due to the potential of listeria issues," Pecoraro  says. "However, if it's cooked thoroughly you can eat it. Of course, we can't guarantee that the pizza you eat is well cooked so be mindful of this. Once your baby is born feel free to consume deli meats again."

Can I dye my hair during pregnancy?

"This question has been going around for years," advises Pecoraro. "The bottom line is you don't absorb too many chemicals through the skin – but I'm not sure what's in all hair dyes and how much is in what. From a safety point of view, avoid dyeing your hair in the first trimester when organs are being formed but further into the pregnancy, you're fine to do so."

Can I use Botox or fillers during pregnancy?

"Unlike hair dye, we advise that your Botox regime is paused [during pregnancy] as is relatively new and early data is not clear on the effects," advises Pecoraro. "It might be harmful but we're not yet sure so we advise not to use them during pregnancy."

Can I have a massage with aromatherapy oils?

"A massage is a wonderful idea", Pecoraro says. However: "As for adverse reactions from aromatherapy oils, ask the therapist if they're comfortable to do so. You don't tend to absorb everything you put on your skin but aromatherapy oils are still a drug with biological properties."

Should I sleep on my stomach or my back?

"Sleep however you are comfortable," says Pecoraro. "Regardless of how you sleep, (on your side for example) has no bearing on the positions your body takes throughout the night – sleep studies show we move all over the place when we sleep. There is a condition called postural supine hypotension in some women but not all. This condition in pregnancy causes the uterus to fall back on a major artery which can restrict blood flow and cause blood pressure to drop. It can make you feel dizzy or want to vomit. You simply would roll onto your side if this happens."

Can I occasionally drink a glass of wine?

"We don't know what a safe level of alcohol in pregnancy is so the Australian recommendation is don't drink during pregnancy," warns Pecoraro. "But this is not universally accepted and the United States and United Kingdom have different recommendations. Once your baby is born, you can consume alcohol but your tolerance won't be as high as it was before pregnancy."

If I get stressed, will it affect my baby?

"If I knew how to avoid stress, I'd be on the now defunct Oprah show," jokes Pecoraro. "A degree of stress is part of life but we would advise not to specifically put yourself in a stressful situation if you don't need to. Stress can cause high blood pressure which is not good as it restricts blood-flow to the placenta. Anger, like joy, is part of being human and so all we would advise is to try and avoid it as much as is practicable."

Can I have sex during pregnancy?

"Most women get an increase in libido during pregnancy, so make hay while the sun shine", says Pecoraro. "It's very common to have spotting after intercourse but that's normal because pressure on the cervix can cause bleeding. Towards the end of the pregnancy, couples need to be ingenious in regards to positions but it's easy to work out what is comfortable and what is not. Don't have sex if your waters are broken because of the chance that bacteria can travel into the cervix. And it's also not advised in cases of placenta praevia, a condition where the placenta grows over the cervix."

What about after birth of the baby?

"There is no right or wrong time to have sex again after the birth of your baby," Pecoraro continues. "It depends on the woman and how she feels, especially if she had vaginal stitches and in this case she may want to wait a couple of weeks."

Can I exercise during pregnancy?

"It is a good idea to exercise gently during pregnancy and swimming is the best because of buoyancy effect," says Pecoraro. "Of course, sex and walking are other great ideas. Avoid high impact exercise because during pregnancy, a woman's joints are very lax and therefore easily damaged. When pregnant, your sense of balance and centre of gravity is altered, so it's easier to fall over so take it easy."

Can I paint the house (or the nursery)?

"It's not a clear yes or no. My first question to a woman would be, why would you want to be painting while you're pregnant?" says Pecoraro. "We advise that you make sure the room is well ventilated because pregnant women can be sensitive to smells – not because there is evidence of any harm from inhaling paint fumes. Be careful on ladders as your centre of gravity changes when you're pregnant too."

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