Home > Medical Services > Hospital Employed Practices > Penn Ob/Gyn > Obstetrics

Common Concerns

This portion is provided to you as a guide and should not replace seeking medical attention if you have questions or concerns.

ALCOHOL

  • Don't drink any alcoholic beverages. It is a known fact that alcohol in excess can cause damage to your unborn child. Remember that alcohol is a drug and that any product that contains alcohol is a drug. There is NO safe amount of alcohol.

BATHING

  • Take tub baths or showers, whichever you prefer. Water generally does not enter the vagina during these activities, so chance of infection is minimal. Your balance may be more difficult to maintain toward the end of your pregnancy, so be careful while getting in and out of your bathtub and make sure it has a nonslip surface on the bottom.

BOWELS

  • Your regular bowel habits may become disturbed during your pregnancy. Hemorrhoids appear more frequently. These changes probably result from relaxation of the muscle cells in the bowel and pressure on the surface of the bowel wall from the expanding uterus containing the growing baby. Stool softening usually provides relief without danger to you or your baby. But don't take a laxative, enema, or any drug without consulting the doctor first. Avoid enemas. Some dietary changes can safely prevent constipation: increased quantities of bran, fresh and dried fruits, vegetables, water, and other fluids all help.

BREASTS & SKIN

  • Breasts enlarge during pregnancy because of hormonal changes. The nipple area becomes darker. Other parts of the skin may become discolored -- the neck, face, and a line down the middle or lower part of the abdomen. These changes are temporary and normally disappear after delivery. Use a moistening lotion or cocoa butter around the abdomen and breasts to guard against stretch marks as much as possible. Use sunscreen on skin areas exposed to the sun.

CAFFEINE

  • Consumption of caffeine in low to moderate amounts is not associated with significant risks during pregnancy. Heavy caffeine use can result in potential problems such as low birth-weight. Heavy caffeine drinkers should reduce their caffeine use while pregnant. Other sources of caffeine besides coffee to be alert to are teas, sodas, chocolate and some nonprescription drugs.

CLOTHING & SHOES

  • Maternity clothes are available in a wide range of prices and styles. In addition, some regular clothing with a loose fit can be worn during and after a pregnancy. Outer clothing should be practical and non constrictive. Because a pregnant woman may feel the cold less and perspire more, cotton and natural fibers may be more comfortable than synthetic fabrics.
  • Wear maternity pantyhose or special support hose. Regular pantyhose may constrict blood flow. Wear maternity bras that are well-fitting and give good support. - Shoes should be low or medium heeled and as comfortable as possible with nonskid soles. Swollen feet are common during pregnancy due to normal fluid retention. There may be extra fat in the feet if weight gain is excessive. The shoe size may increase.

COSMETICS & HAIR CARE PRODUCTS

  • There is no specific evidence that cosmetics and other personal care products (soaps, lotions, and deodorants) affect pregnancy outcomes. Use these products with caution.
  • Hair care products such as dyes, strengtheners, and permanent wave solutions have been studied in pregnant women and have not shown to have any specific risks. Exposure to these products should not pose a risk to the fetus. During pregnancy, hair reacts differently to a tint or permanent so it might be best to wait until after delivery. Hair care products such as sprays and shampoos carry no evidence that they do or don't cause any adverse outcomes for a pregnancy. Most women continue to use their pre-pregnancy hair products and experience no problems.

DOUCHING

  • Don't douche.

EMPLOYMENT

  • You may safely continue working throughout your pregnancy. - Some jobs that involve physical exertion may need evaluating by the doctor. There are no set guidelines regarding work during pregnancy as expectant mothers have differences in levels of capability, pre pregnancy conditioning, exercise tolerance and physique.

EXERCISE

  • Continue to enjoy fitness and recreational activities as you did before pregnancy if your doctor has given the go ahead. Some activities may need to be moderated if they are physically strenuous. Pregnancy is not the time to try a new sport or physical activity. Exercise classes designed for pregnant women are helpful. Avoid activities such as horseback riding, skydiving, motorcycle-racing, fast running, water-skiing and others that carry undue risks.

MISC SUBSTANCES/TESTS
The following substances seem to be safe throughout pregnancy:

  • NutraSweet
  • Sunscreen
  • Dental x-rays with abdominal shielding

PAINTS

  • Avoid painting and inhaling toxic fumes in confined areas. Medical studies on paint exposure and fetal harm are inconclusive. Oil-based paints and paint thinners contain different solvents that should be avoided, especially in the first trimester of pregnancy.

REST

  • Include rest periods in your routine, several times a day for short periods. Lie on one side or the other during these rest periods, rather than flat on your back, because blood flow through the placenta may be decreased if you lie on your back.

SEAT BELT USE

  • The use of seat belts is recommended to decrease maternal and fetal trauma in the event of a motor vehicle accident. Use a diagonal shoulder strap and a lap belt. The diagonal strap should pass over the shoulder and across the chest between the breasts. The lap strap should lie across the upper thighs. The straps should be above and below the "bump" of pregnancy, not over it.

SEXUAL INTERCOURSE

  • Enjoy sexual intercourse as usual, as long as it is not uncomfortable. There may be restrictions on sexual intercourse in cases of pregnancy-related complications (e.g., placenta previa, preterm labor). These activities may lead to cramping or contractions.

SMOKING

  • There can now be no doubt that smoking is injurious not only to you but also (even more so) to your unborn child. So don't smoke! If you are a smoker and need help in stopping, speak to the doctor about methods, support groups, and so on.

TEETH

  • Pregnancy puts an extra strain on dental health. Be particularly careful about brushing and flossing during your pregnancy. Routine dental examinations, preventive and restorative procedures should be provided when necessary. Local anesthetics used for dental procedures are considered safe. If dental x-rays (or other kinds of x-rays) become necessary, make sure that your abdomen is shielded by a standard lead apron.

TRAVEL

  • If possible, plan your trip for the second trimester of pregnancy. The risk of miscarriage is greatest during the first trimester and, in the third trimester, early labor could begin.
  • Travel does not adversely affect pregnancy. Avoid sitting for many hours without getting up and moving around. Empty your bladder frequently so as to avoid an increased risk of bladder infections caused by retained urine. Don't take any anti-nausea travel medications without the doctor's approval. Carry a record of your medical history with you.
  • Avoid travel if you have a threatened miscarriage or a history of miscarriage. Avoid travel to areas at high altitudes or areas where certain vaccinations (that may be hazardous during pregnancy) would be necessary.

If you have any doubt or question about these or any other recommendations, please don't hessitate to call our office and speak with a nurse.

Last Updated: 10/25/2013