When I was pregnant I was afraid of practically everything. Paint the baby’s room? No thanks, too many fumes. I’ll wait. Cheese? Don’t want to risk bacteria, I’ll skip it. (I did eat a lot of crackers, though!) Working out? Too much jostling. I stuck to walking. By my second pregnancy, I was a little calmer and more confident, and didn’t want to be as neurotic. But how was I to know what was safe during pregnancy and what wasn’t? I turned to Dr. Carly Rogenstein, family physician and emergency medicine fellow in Toronto (and a mom, herself) to sift through the myths and realities when it comes to normal daily aspects of life.
What can you do? Dr. Rogenstein weighs in on these activities:
- CAN – Dying Your Hair: There have been no studies looking at occasional use of hair dye products during pregnancy. Due to minimal systemic absorption of these products (unless there is preexisting skin breakdown), it is unlikely for them to cause harmful fetal effects. Motherisk, a program that ran out of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, suggests that using these products three to four times during pregnancy is likely safe.
- CAN – Getting A Massage: Massage therapy, when performed by a registered massage therapist, is a highly safe and effective form of low back and pelvic pain control in pregnancy.
- CAN’T – Enjoying Hot Tubs: Maternal hyperthermia, or exposure to high temperatures during pregnancy, has been associated with gastrointestinal and neurological abnormalities in the fetus, especially during the first trimester. Therefore, hot tubs during pregnancy should be avoided.
- CAN’T – Hot Yoga: As already mentioned, maternal hyperthermia poses risk to the fetus during pregnancy. Although physical activity is encouraged during pregnancy, hot yoga could be unsafe. Therefore, hot yoga should be avoided at all stages of pregnancy.
- CAN – Using Bug Spray: The available evidence on DEET containing insect repellant in pregnancy is reassuring. The CDC states that prevention of West Nile virus through use of protective clothing and DEET containing insect repellant is likely safe in pregnancy. (Keep in mind that DEET bug repellents should not be used unless instructed by a physician on babies less than two months of age.)
“Note, these rules relate to uncomplicated pregnancies,” says Dr. Rogenstein. “If you have any questions about environmental exposures, medications in pregnancy, or even going to the gym, you can ask your doctor.”
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, August/September 2014.