When you discover you are pregnant, the list of things you can no longer do just seems to grow. We all know the basics – that shellfish, blue cheese and a daily large glass of red wine are definite no-nos, but what about the weekly step class or that all-over spray tan you had booked in before you realised your 'condition'? Here we’ve answered a whole list of “Can I…?” questions asked by mums-to-be.
Each pregnancy, expectant mother, and unborn child is different. The information here is based on the average pregnancy.
It is not meant to be a replacement for any advice you may receive from your doctor. If you have any concerns about your pregnancy, we advise you to contact your doctor.
It is usually safe to fly while you're pregnant. However, some airlines won't let you fly after week 28 of your pregnancy, so it is always best to check what your airline's policy is.
If you are travelling for more than five hours, there is a higher risk of thrombosis but it is not clear if this increases if you are pregnant.
It is best to avoid very hot baths due to the risks of overheating and fainting. Becoming too hot can harm your unborn baby, particularly in the first 13 weeks of the pregnancy. Always make sure you drink plenty of fluids.
You should avoid them due to the risks of overheating, dehydration and fainting. Becoming too hot can harm your unborn baby.
Keep up your normal daily physical activity or exercise, such as going to the gym, swimming or walking, for as long as you feel comfortable. If you plan to start a new exercise regime always check with your doctor first.
Don't get too hot and drink plenty of fluids throughout. Avoid contact sports and anything where you might fall, for example, horse riding, gymnastics, cycling.
Be aware that when you lie flat on your back after 16 weeks the weight of your bump can press on the big blood vessels which can affect the blood flow to the placenta and your baby. It can also make you feel faint.
The UK-based Sport Diving Medical Committee advises that if you are pregnant, or are trying to conceive, you should not dive. If you dive and then discover later that you were pregnant at the time, seek advice from your doctor. You should wait at least a month after giving birth to begin diving again.
While there are no hard and fast rules regarding under-wired bras, healthcare professionals generally advise pregnant women to avoid them.
This is because your breasts change at such a fast rate, there is a danger the bra might restrict their shape and cause damage. At worst, it can obstruct the increased blood flow and compress the developing milk ducts which can lead to discomfort, cysts and, in some cases, mastitis.
It is very important to have adequate support from the very start of your pregnancy otherwise there is a danger your breasts could lost their shape permanently. A good maternity bra should have wide shoulder straps, support panels and adjustable fastenings to accommodate your increasing size. Some retailers offer a free fitting service so make regular checks that your bra is the correct size for your changing shape.
Limit your caffeine intake to 200mg a day, because caffeine can cause babies to have a low birth weight and too much caffeine can even lead to miscarriage.
Caffeine is found naturally in coffee, tea and chocolate and is added to some soft drinks, energy drinks as well as cold and flu remedies. If you do occasionally go over the recommended limit, don’t worry as the risks are relatively small.
The amount of caffeine found in some foods and drinks is:
There is no medical evidence to suggest that having sex during pregnancy does any harm to the baby.
Remember, your baby is well cushioned by a sac of fluid well beyond the neck of the womb. In fact, a loving physical relationship is important for your wellbeing during pregnancy and sexual intercourse can help your body to prepare for labour.
Don't worry if you notice mild contractions during and after sex as they won't be powerful enough to start labour if your body is not ready - and if it is ready, sex can help to start labour.
You may be advised to abstain from intercourse at certain stages of pregnancy if you have a history of miscarriage or premature labour, or if you have a low-lying placenta.
Always speak to your doctor if you have any concerns.
The answer is 'no' as cat litter and cat faeces can contain a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis infection. If you get toxoplasmosis for the first time when you're pregnant, or up to three months before you conceive, the infection can be passed to and damage your unborn baby or can cause miscarriage or stillbirth.
To be safe, try to avoid emptying cat litter trays (get someone else to do it) or wear disposable gloves if you have to empty it yourself. Make sure the cat litter is changed every day.
Wash all fruit, vegetables and salads (including ready-prepared salads) thoroughly, to remove all traces of soil. You should also wear gloves when gardening in case the soil has cat faeces in it, and wash your hands and gloves afterwards.
Be sure to also wash your hands thoroughly after handling cats and avoid sick cats.
Other places the parasite can be found in are undercooked or raw meat, raw cured meat, such as salami or Parma ham and unpasteurised goats' milk. Sheep can also carry the parasite.
Most people infected with toxoplasmosis have no symptoms and don't know that they're infected. Contact your doctor immediately if you think that you may have come into contact with the toxoplasma parasite.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to give up your favourite Friday night takeaway just because you are pregnant. However, some women are prone to heartburn when pregnant and spicy foods can aggravate this. The key is to stick to a healthy and varied diet.
Smoking can seriously harm the health of your baby so it is strongly recommended that you give up completely when pregnant.
The chemicals in cigarettes stop oxygen and essential nutrients from reaching your unborn baby. This affects the baby's heart, making it work harder, as well as its growth rate and the brain's development.
If you do smoke during pregnancy there is an increased risk of stillbirth, your baby is more likely to be born prematurely and be underweight and is more likely to get respiratory infections.
There is also an increased risk of cot death and your baby is more likely to smoke when they're older.
The UK –based Department of Health (DoH) recommends that you avoid drinking alcohol if you're pregnant or trying for a baby.
Alcohol passes through the placenta to your unborn baby and as it can't process it as fast as you can, damage can occur leading to low birth weight, heart defects, learning and behavioural disorders or more serious damage such as facial deformities and mental illness
According to UK-based Directgov, wearing a seat belt in an accident reduces the risk of injury to your unborn child by up to 70% so it is as important as ever to wear a seatbelt at all times when you’re pregnant, unless your doctor certifies that you are exempt on medical grounds.
However, you will need to take extra care when adjusting it to avoid the strap going over your bump.
It is best to wear the diagonal strap between your breasts, moving it around the side of your bump and position the lap strap as low as possible across your hips and under your bump – if it goes over your belly button, it is too high.
Airbags are a vital way to keep you safe in an accident so it is always important to have them installed. There is no need to worry that the air bag might harm your unborn baby as they are designed to work with a seat belt and you should be safe as long as you are wearing it correctly.
Becoming too hot can harm your unborn baby, particularly in the first 13 weeks of the pregnancy, but it is very unlikely that this would happen when using an electric blanket as they are designed to keep you warm, rather than hot. You might also be concerned about the electromagnetic field arising from the electricity used to heat the blanket. However, there's not enough evidence that this type of every-day exposure poses a risk to you or your baby.
Massage is an excellent way to keep calm and relaxed during your pregnancy and can be a great pain relief during labour but it is important to make sure your massage therapist knows you are pregnant and is experienced in giving prenatal massages. In the first trimester, a massage should avoid the lower pelvic area near the uterus.
The limited evidence available says that there is probably no risk to dying your hair during pregnancy.
If you are concerned, consider waiting until the second trimester when all your baby’s organs have developed. It might be a good idea to avoid an all-over hair colour and opt for streaks or highlights so the chemicals have little or no contact with your scalp (hair-colouring agents will be absorbed through the skin, not through the hair shaft).
If you are dying your hair yourself, wear gloves and work in a well-ventilated room. Don’t leave the dye on any longer than necessary, and thoroughly rinse your scalp at the end of the process.
Skin can be more sensitive during pregnancy so it is best to avoid fake tan as it can sometimes cause an allergic reaction. If you do decide to have a tan, carry out a patch test on your skin beforehand. Fake tan is non-toxic substance and doesn’t go beyond the outer layer of skin so it is not absorbed into the body.
Sunbeds are not recommended whether you are pregnant or not.
The health risks of exposure to UV light are significant. Prolonged exposure to UV rays worsens the effects of ageing and increases the chances of developing a malignant melanoma (skin cancer).
During pregnancy women often find that their skin is more sensitive which means they are more likely to burn if using a sunbed. A change in hormone levels can also make you more susceptible to the skin pigmentation chloasma that causes dark patches of skin to appear on the face.
These can be made worse if you sun bathe or use a sunbed. There is no clear evidence about the effect of UV rays from sunbeds on an unborn baby, however, a link has been made between UV rays and folic acid deficiency. This is because UV rays can break down folic acid, a vitamin that is very important for the baby’s neural system development in the first three months of pregnancy.
You can use nail varnish when pregnant as long as you take care. The chemicals formaldehyde and toluene found in varnish can be harmful if you are exposed to them regularly although it is unlikely painting your nails once a week will be enough to affect your unborn baby.
To be on the safe side, use a polish that is free of these chemicals, open windows when painting your nails and don’t blow them dry as you are more likely to breathe in the fumes.
Nail polish removers should be safe to use while you’re pregnant. They often contain acetone which occurs naturally in our bodies and in the environment.
Using nail polish remover every day won’t expose you to enough to harm you or your unborn baby and you can always buy acetone-free nail polish removers.
There have been no studies carried out to determine if electrolysis is safe during pregnancy so it is best to avoid it altogether.
There is no evidence to say that hair removal creams could harm your baby however, take care when using them as your skin can be more sensitive when pregnant and the chemicals in them could trigger an allergic reaction. Waxing might also prove to be more painful so shaving could be the best option. Check with your midwife if you are unsure.
You can use some essential oils when pregnant although there are certain ones that should be avoided. Even oils that are considered safe should be avoided during the first trimester.
Essential oils are highly concentrated substances, so only use one or two drops at a time and dilute them down with a teaspoon of base oil (grapeseed or sweet almond work well).
When selecting oils it is best to get advice from a qualified aromatherapist. Always talk to your doctor before using any essential oils.
Most medicines can affect the development of a baby in the womb, depending on the different types and the stage of pregnancy that you have reached when you take it. Always consult your doctor before taking any medicine while pregnant.
Most medicines can affect the development of a baby in the womb, depending on the different types and the stage of pregnancy that you have reached when you take it, and you should always consult your doctor before taking any medicine while pregnant.
Ibuprofen is classed as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and some studies have suggested a possible association between the use of NSAIDs in early pregnancy and a low risk of certain birth defects.
Taking NSAIDs in the last trimester of pregnancy is where the most risk appears to be. The greatest concern is that it may cause the premature closure of a vessel in the baby’s heart, which may lead to pulmonary hypertension in the baby’s lungs. The use of ibuprofen in late pregnancy may also inhibit labour and cause reduced amounts of amniotic fluid. For these reasons, unless you have been prescribed an NSAID by your doctor then it is best to avoid this group of medicines.
Paracetamol is considered a safer painkiller option when pregnant but should be avoided during the first 12 weeks where possible, and should only be taken during this trimester if advised by your doctor
The Royal College of Midwives advises all pregnant women to avoid over-the-counter pain relief and to seek advice before taking any pain killing medication.
Always consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking any over-the-counter medicines.
In pregnancy, particularly in the last trimester, your immune system is suppressed. This means that you may be vulnerable to infections so all pregnant women are advised to have the seasonal flu jab. Ask your doctor or midwife about immunisation.
Always consult your doctor before taking Prozac when pregnant.
Always consult your doctor before taking any herbal medicines.
If you can, it is best to avoid having an X-ray while you’re pregnant. X-rays during pregnancy carry a very small risk of exposing the unborn baby to radiation, which could cause cancer to develop during his or her childhood. Dental X-rays have such a low dose of radiation that there is virtually no risk to the unborn baby. Your healthcare professional will be able to assess whether your treatment can wait until you’ve had your baby. They may also consider using another imaging method instead, such as an ultrasound scan.
If you can, avoid destinations which require vaccinations while you are pregnant as there is very little research has been carried out into the effects of vaccinations on unborn babies.
Live vaccines such as BCG, MMR, oral polio, oral typhoid and yellow fever, are thought to pose the greatest risk. This type of vaccination contains a small amount of live virus, which may potentially affect your baby.
If you have to visit a destination that requires vaccinations, speak to your doctor who will be able to talk through you through your options.
Cleaning products contain a lot of chemicals so, while it should be fine to use them during your pregnancy, make sure there is plenty of air circulating when you do. It might be a good idea to buy natural cleaning products which are free of harsh and toxic substances. Avoid oven cleaners as these are particularly harsh and often used in a confined space where good ventilation is difficult. As your skin is more sensitive during pregnancy, wear long-sleeved tops and gloves when cleaning.
It can’t be said for certain the effect using a mobile phone might have on your unborn child so it might be best to err on the side of caution. Two related studies have linked babies exposed to mobile phones in the womb with behavioural problems, such as hyperactivity, during childhood, however, there is still not enough proof of mobile phone use directly causing this.
Avoid contact with sheep and lambs at lambing time as some lambs are born carrying the germs that cause listeriosis, toxoplasmosis and chlamydia.
These may be passed on to you and your unborn baby. Toxoplasmosis is also found in cat faeces so it is important to avoid cleaning out the cat litter tray and if you have to, wear gloves.
It is best to wear gloves when gardening too in case you come into contact with cat faeces. Wash salads and vegetables thoroughly as it may have been contaminated by cat faeces. Try to wash your hands after handling pets.
Aerosols contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and artificial fragrances which can be harmful so it is best to avoid them during pregnancy.
However, the risks to your unborn child are very low and if used sensibly, there is no reason to worry. Try to keep use down to a minimum, wear gloves and open windows when using them.
Alternatively, invest in some natural cleaning products during the pregnancy. Be particularly careful during the first trimester when your baby’s lungs and other organs are developing.
Insect repellents are safe if you use them carefully. The UK-based NHS and the Health Protection Agency (HPA) advises that products containing 50% Deet (the chemical in insect repellents) are safe for you to use in pregnancy as long as you follow the instructions. If you travel to a country where there is a risk of zika, malaria or dengue it is important to use insect repellents containing DEET.
Alternatively, if you are travelling to countries where there is no danger of serious disease you could try a natural insect repellent or burn a citronella candle.
The risk from modern household paints is very low so it is highly unlikely that paint fumes can harm your unborn baby. Any small risk is greatest during the first trimester so if possible, avoid painting until you have passed this period.
However, solvent-based paints and old paintwork (which may contain traces of lead) may pose a greater risk. With this in mind, you should avoid using solvent-based paints and stripping old paintwork during pregnancy.
Solvent-based paints can also contain harmful substances such as white spirit, toluene and alkanes, which can seriously affect a developing baby. If you do have to paint, use paint designed for nurseries as they contain fewer chemicals, use water-based rather than solvent-based paints, avoid spray paints and keep the rooms you are working in well ventilated.
Studies* have shown that using a computer screen puts your baby at no risk.
The low-frequency electromagnetic field used in metal detectors is considered safe for pregnant women. The same is true for the wands used at airports. The new type of security scanner called the backscatter X-ray system is also safe to use when pregnant.
It is not good to go on a diet when you are pregnant as you risk depriving your growing baby of important nutrients.
If you are obese, medical professionals advise losing weight before falling pregnant as being overweight can lead to further complications, such as gestational diabetes and hypertension.
It is important to keep fit and healthy during pregnancy. Follow a well-balanced diet and avoid foods high in fat and sugar. A normal weight gain during pregnancy is considered to be around ten to 12 kilograms.
It is not advisable to get a tattoo when you are pregnant. This is because of the risk of Hepatitis B and HIV/AIDS which can be caught from a dirty needle and passed on to your unborn baby. It is also not clear the effect of the inks and dyes might have on a developing baby. Most tattooists won’t be prepared to take the risk of a pregnant woman fainting.
Although it is safe to sleep on your back during the first trimester, it is a good idea to get used to sleeping on your side.
This is because, as the uterus gets heavier, it presses on the vein that returns blood from your lower body to your heart when you lie on your back.
If you do this for an extended period, there is a danger that it could affect the flow of blood and nutrients to the placenta. If you do wake up and find yourself on your back, don’t panic. It shouldn’t have any serious adverse effect on your baby.
Try placing cushions between your thighs, along your back and under your bump to make the sleeping position more comfortable.
Some women choose to continue to horse ride during their pregnancy although they are usually experienced riders and not only know the risks involved, but are used to the feel and have built up the pelvic muscle strength to deal with the motion.
A pregnant woman who horse rides regularly should be monitored closely for any signs of the placenta separating from the uterus – a condition known as placental abruption which can result in miscarriage or premature labour.
Another serious concern is about falling off or being thrown and it is certainly wise for all riders – experienced or otherwise - to avoid the riskier, more physical forms of riding, such as jumping. There is also the risk of being kicked in the stomach, which is more likely if you are unfamiliar with the horse. If you have a history of miscarriages it is best to avoid horse riding throughout the pregnancy.
Another serious concern is about falling off or being thrown and it is certainly wise for all riders – experienced or otherwise - to avoid the riskier, more physical forms of riding, such as jumping.
Each pregnancy, expectant mother, and unborn child is different.
Your& pregnancy may not progress the same as the information found here. The information here is based on the average pregnancy. It is not meant to be a replacement for any advice you may receive from your doctor.
If you have any concerns about your pregnancy, we advise you to contact your doctor.
* source: www.nhs.uk