There is no shortage of information on the Internet for women who are expecting. Yet, the more you research, the more you may find contradictory information. Teresa A. Marlino, MD, ob/gyn at Paoli Hospital, clarifies safe, self care practices for pregnant women.
Q: Is it recommended that pregnant women take a prenatal vitamin?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends pregnant women to take 800 micrograms of folic acid daily to lower the risk of neural tube defects. Iron is another essential nutrient to take in order to help prevent anemia. Be sure to eat a variety of healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, calcium-rich foods and cooked seafood. A prenatal vitamin can help ensure you are receiving the recommended daily amount of nutrients. Ask your physician if this kind of vitamin is right for you.
Q: Should pregnant women exercise?
A: Yes. Unless your physician tells you otherwise, exercise is good to do during pregnancy. Exercise helps reduce stress as well as helps women control excessive weight gain during pregnancy. Gaining more than the recommended amount of weight can increase risk for complications.
Q: Are beauty products dangerous to the fetus?
A: Certain products are still safe while you may want to find an alternative for others. Makeup, for example, may contain lead and that can be absorbed into your skin. Though the FDA says the amount of lead is safe, you may want to consider lead-free lipsticks for your own peace of mind. In addition, look for sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. The occasional use of self tanner is a safer option than tanning. Consider peroxide-free whitening toothpaste in lieu of a teeth whitener. For your hair and nails, be cautious about hair spray and nail polish as they contain phthalates, which could potentially lead to birth defects. Limited exposure to phthalates in a well ventilated area should be okay for expecting women.
Q: Is it safe to have a glass of wine while pregnant?
A: No. The HSS reports that there is no known safe amount of alcohol a woman can drink while pregnant. Instead, seek out the number of refreshing drinks or mock-cocktails without alcohol to enjoy. Plus, you want to be sure you are drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Q: Can I take a hot bath to relax?
A: No. Hot tubs and saunas are not healthy for expecting women because high temperatures may be harmful to the developing fetus. To relax, try lying down with the lights off with candles lit and listen to calming music. Remember to focus on your breathing and take deep breaths. Writing, drawing, knitting, walking or reaching out to a friend are other ways to reduce stress.
Q: What foods are potentially harmful?
A: Avoid eating swordfish, king mackerel, shark and tilefish because they high in methyl mercury. Ingest only pasteurized dairy products including milk and cheese. You also want to be mindful of food-borne illness, so be sure to handle, clean, cook and store food properly. Remember to wash your hands with soap and water before and after handling meat and fish products.
Are You Expecting?
Main Line Health offers a wide variety of childbirth classes to help you prepare for the big day. Visit the Main Line Health Maternity site for the schedule of upcoming classes. We can also help you find the right doctor; call us at 1.888.876.8764.