During Pregnancy: Is it Safe?



The majority of pregnant women worry about something harming their baby in utero. What should I stay away from? Is this safe for my baby? Here are a few answers to the frequent questions asked by moms around Kansas City.

Is it safe to…

  • Smoke? As soon as a woman discovers she is pregnant, she should quit smoking. The risks to the fetus are preterm deliveries, miscarriages, low birth weight and poor lung function. Smoking cessation tips are available at www.LungUSA.org. According to the American Lung Association, “Do not allow smoking around your baby. Secondhand smoke is especially harmful to young children, particularly those whose lungs are still developing.”
  • Paint? Jennifer O’Hara, pediatric nurse and mom, said her OB/GYN gave her “brochures that said not to paint, but I know many other women who paint every room in the house with Latex when they are in the nesting phase and they are okay.” However, it is recommended to avoid exposure to oil-based and lead paints. If you have someone else paint for you, keep the house well ventilated and don’t return until the air is clear.
  • Use cockroach or ant spray? Both are toxic and aren’t good for anyone to inhale directly. You should wait twice the amount of recommended time before entering your house after fumigation. Removing pests without sprays, by using traps or outdoor powders, is preferable.
  • Use cleaning supplies? Proper ventilation is key. If you start to feel nauseous or light headed, or a headache starts, you need to leave the area and breathe in fresh air until you feel better. O’Hara says she was advised “to not to be in confined spaces with bleach. Also, it’s dangerous for anyone to be around bleach combined with ammonia.” Baking soda and vinegar can be healthy substitutes.
  • Highlight your hair? The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say hair dyes are “probably safe to use during pregnancy” since minimal dye is absorbed through the skin. However, some providers ask pregnant women not to use permanent hair color.
  • Change the cat’s litter box? Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic infection found in some cat feces. Pregnant women shouldn’t change litter boxes and be cautious working in outdoor gardens where cats may have left “surprises.” Toxoplasmosis in pregnant moms can be passed onto fetus.
  • Drink caffeine? The American Pregnancy Association (APA) states, “Moderate levels of caffeine have not been found to have a negative effect on pregnancy. Avoiding caffeine is your safest course of action.” You should discuss amounts with your health care provider.
  • Consume alcohol? “Alcohol crosses the placenta to your baby. When you drink alcohol, so does your baby. There is no safe amount of alcohol to consume while you are pregnant,” recommends the APA.
  • Be in a hot tub? According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AGOG), becoming overheated in a hot tub is not recommended during pregnancy. The mother can pass out and overheating slows down uterine blood flow, stressing the baby.

If you are worried whether something will harm your baby, always weigh on the “better safe than sorry” side. So until someone invents a magic eight ball that gives you the correct answers, it’s up to you and your medical provider to decide what’s best for you and baby.

Stacey Hatton, RN is an Overland Park freelance writer and mother of two.
 

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