Common worries

    Insect repellents
  • Use in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy [first trimester] is not recommended. Use in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy is considered safe. However it depends on the type you choose. Avoid any repellant that contains the chemical diethyl-3-methyl benzamide (DEET), which is often found in tropical mosquito repellents. A certain amount of the chemical might be absorbed through the skin into your bloodstream. DEET has been found to have caused birth defects in certain animals.

    1. Exercise does wonders for you during pregnancy. It helps prepare you for childbirth by strengthening your muscles and building endurance, and makes getting your body back in shape once the baby is born much easier.
    2. Walking is always the best exercise; Jogging or running is alright but only if you started doing it before you were pregnant.
    3. Swimming is ideal as it works on each and every muscle in your body. It also acts as stress buster.
    4. Yoga and stretching tone up your muscles and has little if any impact on your joints. But beware of over stretching.
    5. Avoid overheating and fatigue during pregnancy and taper off you exercise routine as your pregnancy advances.
    6. Dancing to the favorite tunes is alright. Completely avoid jumping, twisting or any other jerky movements.
    7. If you are into aerobics, sign up for a class specifically designed for pregnant women. You'll find such a class quite useful.
    8. Avoid sauna baths as exposure to hot temperatures can cause birth defects.

Smoking causes conception problems. Itâ??s hard to become pregnant if you smoke. It reduces the fertility rates in both men and women and it also hinders the success of IVF treatment.

Smoking can also:
    1. Reduce the amount of semen.
    2. Harm the motility of sperm, i.e. their ability to move around.
    3. Affect the shape of the sperm.
    4. It causes erection problems in men.

  • If the mother smokes:
  1. Babies are more likely to be born prematurely and with a low birth weight (below 2.5kg).
  2. Babies have a birth weight on average 200g less than those born to non-smokers.
  3. Babies have organs that are smaller on average than babies born to non-smokers.
  4. Babies have poorer lung function.
  5. Babies are twice as likely to die from cot death. It is also called Sudden Infant death Syndrome. There seems to be a direct link between cot death and parents smoking.
  6. Babies are ill more frequently. Babies born to women who smoked 15 cigarettes or more a day during pregnancy are taken into hospital twice as often during the first eight months of life.
  7. Babies get painful diseases such as inflammation of the middle ear and asthmatic bronchitis more frequently in early childhood.
  8. The children are more likely to become smokers themselves in later years.
  9. In addition, pregnant women who smoke increase their risk of early miscarriage.
  10. In smoking the nutrients are not rightly carried to the baby due to placental dysfunction.
In later pregnancy, smoking mothers are at increased risk of the baby's placenta coming away from the womb before the baby is born (placental abruption). This may cause the baby to be born prematurely, starve of oxygen, or even to die in the womb (stillborn).

The world health organization [WHO] advises that it is best to totally avoid smoking during pregnancy.

It has serious side effects on the baby causing the Fetal Alcohol syndrome. Alcohol interferes with the formation process of organs and organ systems during early pregnancy. It causes mental retardation, some ocular defects and heart defects. It has effects similar to what smoking can cause.

The world health organization [WHO] advises that it is best to totally avoid alcohol during pregnancy.

High calorie diet and Junk food
Try to avoid junk food and deep fried foods. The food should contain more of fiber and essential vitamins and minerals.

For more information please check out the Nutrition in pregnancy article on our website.

Caffeine has not been proven to cause any birth defects. However it is safer to limit consumption of caffeine because of its withdrawal effects.

Medicines for acne or pimples
Medicines for acne include retinoic acid supplements [isotretinoin] are unsafe during pregnancy.
  1. Stop these supplements immediately if you are planning for a pregnancy.
  2. It has been proven to cause heart defects, facial defects.
  3. You can, however, eat as many red, orange, and yellow fruits and vegetables as you'd like without worrying about overdosing on vitamin A. Foods such as carrots and red peppers actually contain beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A as needed.

Mobile phones during pregnancy
Yes they are safe. They emit non ionizing radiations like Televisions or micro ovens. Precautions that can be taken are using land lines; using headsets if available and limiting talk on mobile phones to short conversations.

Travel during pregnancy
  1. Reduce stress during travel. Donâ??t drive for too long.
  2. Maximize your energy by taking frequent sips of juices or clean water. Hydration is the idea.
  3. Eat smart with low calorie food. Avoid junk and beverages. Home food is advisable.
  4. Frequent stops to move around will lessen your swelling of legs and rejuvenate your energy.
  5. Hot humid temperatures cause thrush problems.
  6. Choose safe activities and avoid scuba and skiing. No diving.
  7. Air travel is safe till 36 weeks of pregnancy.
  8. No amusement parks rides or slides.

Using air fresheners, floor cleaners
Not much data is available to establish a clear link about this, but it is suspected children born to mothers who use excessive chemicals, like air fresheners, floor cleaning liquids are prone likely to be asthmatic. Some precautions should be taken while using such chemicals.
  1. Wear gloves when using indoor aerosol products.
  2. Reduce the amount of aerosols used within the house.
  3. Open windows to ensure good ventilation when using aerosols.

Seat belt during pregnancy
There is no contraindication of using seat belts and in fact it is important during any length of travel.

X-ray, CT scan during pregnancy
Exposure to radiation is best avoided as it has been proven to have ill effects on the growing fetus. Your doctor will not send you for an x-ray or CT scan during pregnancy unless it is absolutely necessary.

Working with animals
Cat feces can carry a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, an infection that isn't serious for you but can pose a danger to your developing baby. Toxoplasmosis causes serious problems in the first trimester pregnancy to the growing fetus. Some of the problems are :
  1. The baby can develop eye problems.
  2. Mental retardation
  3. Seizures.
  4. Heart defects.

Sex during pregnancy
It is safe to have sex during pregnancy unless there is spotting or bleeding during it. However even in these cases you can resume after 12 weeks. Take safe postures to make the sex more pleasurable. It can continue till the last month of pregnancy unless there are some reasons for premature labor. If you have any doubts you should consult your doctor.

Vaccinations during pregnancy
There are two vaccinations that are given to all pregnant women in India. The tetanus toxoid is compulsory and the hepatitis B optional, but strongly recommended.
  1. Tetanus toxoid is recommended for women in developing countries due to unsafe methods of delivery.
  2. It is given in two doses during the first or second trimester of pregnancy.
  3. Hepatitis B is one that is highly recommended in every case of known pregnancy. Hepatitis virus transmits to the baby during labor in addition to its sexual transmission and via blood and blood products. Hepatitis B immunoglobin is also given immediately to a baby born to a Hepatitis positive woman.
  4. The Hepatitis vaccination is given in three doses at 1st and 2nd and 6th month both to the mother and the baby. Consult your doctor for further details regarding the vaccination program.

Using computers during pregnancy
Computers emit non ionizing radiation so are safe.
  1. Over use of computers can cause postural problems, which will make you very uncomfortable during pregnancy.
  2. Keep taking regular breaks in between and learn work ergonomics.
  3. No harm will be caused to the growing baby.

Coloring or perm during pregnancy
Clearly, the chemicals in both permanent and semi-permanent hair dyes are not highly toxic. These chemicals have been around a long time, and research shows they do not cause defects in newborns. Plus, if you apply the dyes safely (using gloves in a well-ventilated room, and not leaving solutions on for excessive periods of time), you don't really absorb much of the chemicals into your system.

Medications avoided
Certain medications are known to have adverse effects on the developing fetus. The common medications that are avoided are antibiotics like Ciprofloxacin, Chloramphenicol, and Tetracyclines, antiepileptic like Phenytoin, Carbamazepine and Radioactive Iodine used for Hypothyroidism. The doctor will guide you about the over the counter drugs that are to be cautiously taken.

The above medications are only the commonest that need to be avoided during pregnancy. Never take any medication during your pregnancy unless they are prescribed by your doctor or without consulting your doctor first.

Infections that can affect the fetus during pregnancy
Always consult your doctor in all cases of infections affecting you personally or any of your family members. Be careful during epidemics. The important infections that usually cause effects in the fetus are :
  1. Candidiasis or Thrush in mouth or vagina.
  2. Group B streptococcal infections.
  3. Toxoplasmosis.
  4. Chicken pox.
  5. Rubella.
  6. Measles.
  7. HIV.
  8. Hepatitis B.
  9. Listeriosis.

Related Links :