Pregnancy FAQs And Safe Medications List

Expectant Mother FAQS

Pregnancy creates many questions; we provide answers

• What about taking medications during pregnancy?
• What can I take for a headache during my pregnancy?
• Can I paint?
• Can I have my hair permed or colored during my pregnancy
• What about caffeine?
• Can I safely use Nutrasweet or saccharin?
• Can I drink alcohol during my pregnancy?
• Is smoking really dangerous to my unborn baby?
• Can I exercise during pregnancy?
• Are hot tubs, saunas, electric blankets and steam rooms safe?
• What is toxoplasmosis?
• How much weight should I gain?
• Should I have genetic counseling and/or testing?
• What is a sequential screen?
• When should I feel my baby move?
• What is a glucola screen and when should it be done?
• What is GBS (Group B Streptococcus) and when will I be tested?
• Am I in labor?
• What do I do in an emergency?
• Can I travel?
• What about dental appointments?
• Is intercourse ok?
• What vaccines are ok during pregnancy?
• What you need to know about mercury in fish and shellfish.
• Is it normal for swelling to occur?
• Herbal remedies during pregnancy.
• What is a bloody show?
• What are “Braxton-Hicks” contractions?

What about taking medications during pregnancy? [Back to Top]
Most women experience some symptoms in pregnancy for which they would consider taking medicine. While overall we recommend limiting your use of over-the-counter drugs, our doctors have provided a .pdf list of medications which are usually safe during pregnancy. We still advise you discuss taking medications with your doctor. To view, download, save, or print our list of approved OB medications please click here The Woman’s Group Approved Pregnancy Medication List.

What can I take for a headache while I’m pregnant? [Back to Top]
It is safe to take Tylenol or any acetaminophen pain reliever while pregnant. Avoid aspirin, aspirin-containing products and ibuprofen. Be sure to read the label listing ingredients for use of these substancesin medicines. If you need pain relief other than Tylenol, please speak with your health care provider. For a list of our approved ob medications please click here: The Woman’s Group Approved Pregnancy Medication List.

Can I paint during pregnancy? [Back to Top]
Avoid exposure to lead and oil-based paints. If you paint, use only latex paint and be sure the room is well ventilated. Avoid exposures to paint removers, thinners, and paint brush cleaning solutions. If your home was built prior to 1979, check for lead-based paint. A test kit can be found at many hardware stores.

Can I have my hair permed or colored during pregnancy? [Back to Top]
Sometimes permanents and hair color do not take very well during pregnancy because of the hormonal changes in your body. Please check with your individual health care provider for their recommendation.

What about caffeine during pregnancy? [Back to Top]
Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, soft drinks, cocoa and chocolate products. The short and long-term effects of caffeine are unclear. Caffeine intake may decrease the absorption of some vitamins. You should limit your intake to one or two (6 oz.) caffeinated drinks per day.

Can I safely use Nutrasweet or saccharin? [Back to Top]
The artificial sweetener, Nutrasweet, is thought to be safe during pregnancy. Saccharin should not be used during pregnancy.

Can I drink alcohol during pregnancy? [Back to Top]
No. No one knows how much alcohol is safe during pregnancy. The March of Dimes recommendation is no alcohol, even in moderation, during pregnancy.

Is smoking really dangerous to my unborn baby? [Back to Top]
First and second hand smoke can cause prenatal complications and reduced birth weight because of carbon monoxide poisoning and reduced oxygen to your baby. We strongly recommend no smoking and avoiding exposure to second hand smoke.

Can I exercise during pregnancy? [Back to Top]
We recommend 30-45 minutes of exercise 4-5 times a week. Walking, biking, and swimming are safe during pregnancy. Check with your health care provider before starting an exercise program.

Does a hot tub, sauna, electric blanket or steam room affect my pregnancy? [Back to Top]
We recommend you avoid exposure to these items, especially in the first trimester. They may raise your core body temperature and may be potentially dangerous to the developing embryo or fetus. Temperature should not be more than the regular body temperature of 98.7 degrees.

What is toxoplasmosis? [Back to Top]
Toxoplasmosis is a rare disease caused by a parasite that lives in some mammals, such as cats. Toxoplasmosis infections during pregnancy may also infect the baby. Prevention includes: making sure meat is thoroughly cooked, daily cat litter box changing by someone other than you, washing your hands well with soap and water after touching soiled or uncooked meat or vegetables, wearing gloves while gardening, and not allowing your cats to walk on areas where food is prepared or eaten.

How much weight should I gain? [Back to Top]
If you are the appropriate weight for your height and body build, you should gain between 25-35 pounds. During the first 12-14 weeks of pregnancy, you should gain no more than 2-4 pounds; thereafter, you should gain 1/2 to 1 pound per week.

Should I have genetic counseling and/or testing? [Back to Top]
If you are 35 years of age or over, or if you have a family history of birth defects, mental retardation, or certain medical conditions, we offer genetic counseling and genetic testing. Your health care provider can furnish you with more information regarding these tests.

What is a sequential screen? [Back to Top]
Sequential Screening is a two-stage screening procedure offered during pregnancy to identify women who are at increased risk of having a baby with Down Syndrome. It also permits screening for open neural tube defects, such as open spina bifida and the identification of pregnancies at high risk for trisomy 18.

The first stage of Sequential Screening is offered between the 10th and 13th weeks of pregnancy and requires a blood sample and an ultrasound examination. The blood sample is used to measure two proteins that are found in a pregnant woman’s blood: pregnancy-associated plasma protein A (PAPP-A) and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). An ultrasound exam of the baby is performed to measure the nuchal translucency (NT). Nuchal Translucency refers to a collection of fluid in the back of the baby’s neck. Babies with Down Syndrome and trisomy 18 tend to have NT measurements that are larger than those of babies without these conditions. Results of the blood and NT measurements are combined, and a risk for Down syndrome and trisomy 18 is determined. If a baby is found to be at very high risk for either Down syndrome or Trisomy 18, the diagnostic testing is offered. Most women (over 99%) will not be in this very high-risk group, they proceed with the second stage of Sequential Screening.

The second stage of Sequential Screening is offered between the 15th and 21st weeks of pregnancy and requires a blood sample to measure four substances found in a pregnant woman’s blood: alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), hCG, unconjugated estriol (uE3), and dimeric inhibin A (DIA). The NT measurement and the measurements from both blood samples are then combined with information about you, such as your age and weight, to determine your baby’s final risk for having Down syndrome. The AFP measurement is used to screen for open neural tube defects, and the combination of the different markers may identify babies at increased risk for trisomy 18. For more information click here.

When should I feel my baby move? [Back to Top]
Movements of the baby are usually first felt between the 4th and 5th months (18-20 weeks).

What is a glucola screen and when should it be done? [Back to Top]
This test detects diabetes of pregnancy. We recommend testing at 24-28 weeks gestation. Fasting is not required. Testing can be done at any time during the day. The test involves drinking a sweet liquid and having a blood sugar test performed one hour later. If this test is abnormal, you will need a more extensive three-hour glucose tolerance test.

What is GBS (Group B Streptococcus) and when will I be tested?[Back to Top]
GBS is a type of bacteria found in the vagina or the urinary tract. This bacteria can be passed to a baby and may cause infections in the newborn (less than 2 percent). We recommend GBS testing at 35-37 weeks of pregnancy. If the test indicates the presence of GBS, we recommend treatment with IV antibiotics during labor.

What if I have a question of if I’m in labor? [Back to Top]
When calling with a question, we need certain information to best advise you; your name, which pregnancy this is for you, number of weeks pregnant, and any previous complications. If you think you are in labor or your water has broken, please tell the operator. She will immediately direct your call to your physician or nurse on call.

What do I do in an emergency? [Back to Top]
One of the doctors or nurses is always available at nights and on the weekends and can be reached by calling 813-875-8032 or 813-769-2778. If you think you are in labor, please contact us prior to going to the hospital except in the case of an extreme emergency.

Can I travel? [Back to Top]
You may travel up to 35-36 weeks of your pregnancy. However, please check with your doctor prior to traveling to discuss the risks associated with travel. If you travel by car, get out of the car every 1-2 hours. Drink plenty of fluids and WEAR A SEATBELT!!! If you fly, an aisle seat may be more convenient, and be sure to walk about the cabin every 2 hours. Check with your insurance coverage on travel limitations.

What about dental appointments? [Back to Top]
We recommend a dental cleaning during pregnancy – notify your dentist you are pregnant. Dental x-rays are OK if abdomen is shielded. Novacaine without Epinephrine may be used for dental work – no nitrous oxide!!

Is intercourse OK? [Back to Top]
Intercourse is safe throughout your pregnancy unless you are experiencing spotting, bleeding, contractions, ruptured membranes, or if you’ve been told by your doctor that you have a placenta previa. Call if bleeding occurs with intercourse.

Acceptable vaccines during pregnancy: [Back to Top]
Hepatitis B, Tetanus, Pneumonia, Influenza after 12 weeks, and TB skin test. Download the Vaccines PDF for more information.

All about mercury in fish and shellfish: [Back to Top]
Fish and shellfish are an important part of a healthy diet. A well balanced diet that includes a variety of fish and shellfish can contribute to heart health and childrens proper growth and development. However, nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury that accumulate in streams and oceans as they feed. Some fish are not a health concern. Yet, some fish and shellfish contain higher levels of mercury that may harm an unborn baby or young childs developing nervous system. Larger fish that have lived longer (swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tile fish) have the highest level of mercury because they’ve had more time to accumulate it. The risks depend on the amount of fish and shellfish eaten and the levels contained. Therefore, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are advising women who may become pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers and young children to avoid some types of fish and only eat fish and shellfish that are low in mercury. Fish sticks and “fast food” sandwiches are commonly made from fish that are low in mercury. Tuna steaks generally contain higher levels of mercury than canned light tuna. When choosing your two meals of fish and shellfish, you may eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) of tuna per week. If you eat a lot of fish one week, you can cut back for the next week or two since one weeks consumption of fish does not change the level of mercury in the body at all. Just make sure you average the recommended amount per week.
By following the three (3) recommendations for selecting and eating fish or shellfish, women and young children will receive benefits and be confident that they have reduced their exposure to the harmful effects of mercury:
• Do not eat: shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish
• Eat up to 12 ounces (two average meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury such as shrimp, canned light (albacore white tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna), tuna salmon, Pollock and catfish.
• Check local advisors (your local Health Department) about the safety of fish caught by family and friends in your local lakes, rivers and coastal areas.
Visit the FDA’s Food Safety Website or the EPA website for a listing of mercury levels in fish.

Is it normal for swelling to occur? [Back to Top]
A certain amount of swelling (called edema) is normal during pregnancy. It occurs most often in the legs. Elevating the legs usually makes the swelling less by the next morning. Swelling can begin during the last few months of pregnancy, and it may occur more often in the summer. Let your doctor or nurse know if you have swelling in your hands or face, because this may be a sign of another problem. A clue that your hands are swollen is that your rings are too tight. Never take medications (water pills) for swelling unless they have been prescribed to you.
• Elevate you legs when possible.
• Rest in bed on your side.
• Lie down with your legs raised on a small footstool or several pillows.
• Do not wear stockings or socks that have a tight band of elastic around the legs.
• If you must sit a lot on the job, stand up and move around from time to time.
• Try not to stand still for long periods of time.

Herbal Remedies during pregnancy. [Back to Top]
There is very little known about herbal medicine and nontraditional medications during pregnancy. Many women don’t consider herbal remedies to be medicine and when pregnant women don’t report their use of theses substances to their obstetricians, this is worrisome because even “herbs or vitamin supplements” can have side effects or interactions with other medications.
Herbal medications are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), therefore there is no good control over these products. In some cases, herbal remedies may not even contain the substance that is listed on the bottle. It may contain the concentration stated in the label or it may have a higher or lower level of the substance.
Women who don’t think of herbal remedies as medicines should volunteer the information about its use to their physician.

What is a bloody show? [Back to Top]
A bloody show is a small amount of bloody mucous seen at anytime in the final month of pregnancy. It may be anything from just mucous (plug) to pink discharge to a bloody red discharge. Although it is a good sign that your cervix may be softening in preparation for dilation it does not always mean you are going into labor. It may occur from 2 weeks to 1 hour before delivery and thus affords no idea of when labor may occur. It may also occur within 24 hours after a pelvic examination. If this occurs you do not have to go to the hospital. Just watch for any other signs of labor. Heavy vaginal bleeding is never a simple bloody show and should be evaluated in the hospital immediately.

What are “Braxton-Hicks” contractions? [Back to Top]
Braxton-Hicks contractions are very mild, irregular contractions that may feel like menstrual cramps. They can occur at any time in the late 2nd trimester and 3rd trimester (26 – 40 weeks). If you are less than 36 weeks and these mild cramps become uncomfortable or are accompanied by a mucous or bloody discharge, you should call the office and speak to the ob nurse. Otherwise, they are common and normal.

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