Most first time moms are a ball of nerves at their first pregnancy office visit. They often have a huge list of questions, but when they see the flicker of their baby’s heartbeat for the first time they are overcome with emotion and forget half the stuff they were going to ask.
Here are the most common questions patients have for me (once they remember to ask):
Can I have sex when I’m pregnant?
Yes – unless you are experiencing vaginal bleeding or your doctor has instructed you to refrain from sex based on a specific complication (like placenta previa). From conception until your water breaks, having sex is medically fine. And any position is fine as long as it doesn’t cause you discomfort.
Can I go to a concert when I’m pregnant?
Yes. While the baby can hear after 20 weeks, the loud music from a concert will not cause any damage to the baby’s hearing. There are 5 layers of abdominal wall and an inch of uterus muscle for the sound to travel through before reaching the baby AND the baby is floating in water (amniotic fluid). Think how muffled sound is when you are in pool. So, you are fine to “rock on.”
Can I sleep on my back when I’m pregnant?
Depends. Before 20 weeks, please sleep however you are most comfortable. But after 20 weeks, it is recommended to sleep on your side. As the uterus grows, it can put pressure on the vein that returns blood to your heart when you are flat on your back. This can cause you to feel dizzy and lightheaded. No need to panic that you are hurting your baby if you find yourself waking up on your back, your body will rouse you if needed and then simply roll back over on your side.
Can I have caffeine when I’m pregnant?
Yes. While most pregnant women do lose their taste for coffee in the first trimester, up to 200 mg of caffeine a day is safe in pregnancy. That is approximately 2 small cups of coffee a day.
Can I drink wine when I’m pregnant?
No. While wine can be helpful in the process of getting pregnant there is no safe amount of alcohol in pregnancy.
Can I get a massage, manicure, and pedicure when I’m pregnant?
Heck, yeah! Every week! And invite your OB while you’re at it. As with sleeping, after 20 weeks you will need to avoid being on your back, so you can just lay on your side for a massage. Also, be aware that many spas will not perform massages in first trimester, though, from a medical standpoint, there’s no reason to advise against it.
Can I travel when I’m pregnant?
Absolutely. If you are not experiencing any pregnancy complications, then it is safe to travel up to 28 weeks internationally and 35 weeks domestically. When you are pregnant, you are at increased risk of blood clots from sitting for a prolonged period of time, so you should get up and walk around every two hours, which usually works out great because this is about how often you have to pee.
Important note: Avoid traveling to any countries where there is active Zika virus for two months before conception and throughout pregnancy.
Can I get Botox when I’m pregnant?
Depends. There is limited safety data in Botox in pregnancy, but what we do have shows it’s not likely to cross the placenta. If it’s being used only for cosmetic reasons, if there is any risk at all it hardly seems worth it. Enjoy the beauty of your pregnancy glow. If you use it for treatment of severe migraines then talk to your neurologist to see if the risk may be worth the benefit.
Can I get my hair dyed when I’m pregnant?
Yes. Getting your hair highlighted or colored during pregnancy is fine. Though early studies suggested that coloring hair was associated with miscarriage, these were studies where the researchers FED huge amounts of dye to rats. Applying highlighter to your hair is fine, but please don’t drink it. If you are wanting to get your hair straightened or permed, then you will need to check with your doctor to confirm those specific chemicals are safe.
Can I get a spray tan when I’m pregnant?
No. We are unsure of the safety of inhaling the chemical of a spray tan, but sunless creams and lotions are considered safe in pregnancy.
Can I get a bikini wax when I’m pregnant?
I guess. While waxing is safe in pregnancy, please beware that your skin is more sensitive, so waxing may be even more painful (if that’s even possible) when you’re pregnant. As a general aside, as your OB/GYN I couldn’t care less about the state of your pubic hair (patients commonly apologize for not being properly ‘groomed’ at their exam). As long as it trimmed up enough that I can get to where I need to go, that’s fine.
Can I get in a hot tub when I’m pregnant?
Depends. Having an elevated core temperature in early pregnancy has been associated with neural tube defects like spina bifida, a birth defect where the skin doesn’t form properly over the spine. It is recommended to avoid hot tubs, electric blankets, hot baths and saunas before 20 weeks (and, if you get a fever you should talk to your doctor about taking acetaminophen to reduce your temperature). The spine is completely formed at 20 weeks, so being in a hot bath after this stage shouldn’t cause any issues to the baby. However, in later pregnancy, many women can feel dizzy easily, so I would be cautious getting in and out of the bath for that reason.
Being hot from exercising early in pregnancy has not been associated with any birth defects.
Can I get dental work when I’m pregnant?
Yes, please. Poor dental hygiene has actually been associated with pregnancy complications like preterm labor. Routine cleaning and dental procedures are recommended in pregnancy. Local anesthetic and nitrous gas are safe in pregnancy. The only precautions would be that your gums are more vascular during pregnancy and therefore more prone to bleeding, so purely elective procedures should be postponed until after pregnancy.
Can I swim in a lake, swimming pool or ocean when I’m pregnant?
Yes. Swimming is a great form of exercise during pregnancy. As long as the body of water is safe for swimming in general, it is safe in pregnancy.
Can I jump on a trampoline, ride an ATV, or zipline when I’m pregnant?
Nope. Avoid any activities with intense jarring movements or activities that could put you at risk for abdominal trauma. Besides, if you jump on a trampoline, you are just going to pee on yourself anyway.
Can I raise my hands over my head when during pregnancy?
Yes. This old wives’ tale has been around a long time and just when I think it has finally died out I’ll get this question again. Raising your hands over your head doesn’t cause the baby to get tangles in its cord, no matter what your great aunt Gertrude has told you.
Of course, each woman’s pregnancy is unique. While these are the answers I give my low risk patients, you should always talk to your doctor about what’s best for you and your pregnancy.