Pregnancy FAQs

Can I travel?

Traveling is OK until about 32 weeks gestation. Then it is advisable to stay closer to home. Air travel is fine, with plenty of hydration. If traveling many hours by car stop every 3-4 hours to stretch legs and empty bladder.

Can I dye my hair?

According to ACOG hair dyes are probably safe because very little dye is absorbed through the skin. It would be prudent to avoid in the first trimester. A concern is breathing fumes containing ammonia which is found in many hair coloring products. Safety tips for coloring hair, including dyes, bleach and perms, would be to wait until after 12 weeks and be in a well ventilated area. Women who work in salons and are pregnant should take precautions to limit chemical exposure including ventilation and gloves for chemical treatments. After delivery, it is OK to treat hair if breastfeeding.

Can I paint my baby’s room?

Scraping and sanding of old lead based paint should be avoided. Paints sold today do not contain lead but do contain ethylene glycol ethers and biocides (latex paint). Ideally, painting should be avoided but if a pregnant patient can’t wait to paint the nursery she should wear protective clothing and use fans and open windows for ventilation. They should also take frequent breaks and get fresh air.

Can I tan?

There are no studies that provide conclusive evidence that tanning beds harm the baby. However, health care providers advise against any activity that raises the mother’s body temperature, such as saunas, hot tubs, or tanning beds.  Overheating is associated with spinal malformations. Also, tanning during pregnancy may worsen chloasma and increase the risk of melanoma. The same applies to the beach or outdoor activity. Sunscreen is advised as well as plenty of water. Liquid tanning is the best option but the active ingredient dihydroxyacetone or DHA has not been studied well. It has been available since 1960 with no problems reported. It may be safer to wait until the 2nd trimester.

Can I eat fish?

Fish is very nutritious but may contain mercury contaminants. The FDA guidelines currently recommend no more than 12 oz of low mercury fish weekly. High mercury fish should be less than 3 servings per month and include canned and fresh tuna, lobster, and orange roughy. Low mercury fish include crab, anchovies, cod and perch.

Can I use an artificial sweetener?

The following artificial sweeteners are considered safe during pregnancy: Sunett or acesulfame potassium, commonly used in baked goods. Aspartame, known as Equal or Nutrasweet, often found in diet soft drinks. According to the FDA aspartame is safe during pregnancy and lactation but it recommends moderate use. Also, sucralose known as Splenda is ok. Sweeteners not safe during pregnancy include: saccharin or Sweet n Low. The FDA considers saccharin safe but studies have shown it crosses the placenta and may remain in fetal tissue.  Also, stevia is unsafe and is considered an herbal sweetener. Lastly, cyclamate, which is currently banned in the US.

How much caffeine is safe?

Or do I have to give up my Starbucks? Caffeine is a stimulant and a diuretic and does cross the placenta barrier. It is found in coffee, tea, soda, chocolate, and headache medications.  Myths include caffeine causes miscarriages, birth defects and infertility. During pregnancy, caffeine should be consumed in small amounts because of the stimulant effect on the fetus. Current recommendations are less than or around 150 mg per day. For example, a can of Coke is 34 mg. A Starbucks grande is 400mg.

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Downriver Obstetrics & Gynecology provides comprehensive women’s health care at our office in Trenton, MI. Call us today at (734) 671-2110 to schedule your appointment today!