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Exercise During Pregnancy
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Avoiding Unsafe Exposure
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General Precautions

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General Precautions

Those planning to start a family or expand a family are looking forward to a very special and rewarding time in their lives. Although excited about the pregnancy, most couples have concerns about having a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery. While most pregnancies proceed normally without any complications, following a healthy lifestyle before and during pregnancy will provide some added insurance.

Furthermore, there are some general precautions and exposure concerns that couples should know. Following them will increase your chances of conceiving and provide a safer environment for your growing fetus once pregnancy begins.

General Precautions

Avoid Exposure To Toxic Substance

If pregnant or planning to get pregnant, it is advisable to avoid toxic substances and chemicals in our food and environment. In some cases, environmental and occupational exposure to chemicals or toxins may impact the ability to conceive and may affect the developing fetus in pregnant women.

There is considerable controversy about the effect of toxins on fertility and pregnancy. Below is a list of the substances that are thought to present an exposure risk during conception and pregnancy. This list is lengthy, and may seem overwhelming. But, most will find that these exposure risks are infrequent and many of the safety precautions mentioned, are practices that we do on a regular basis anyway.

Always discuss concerns you have about toxic exposures with your physician.

Lead: Human studies indicate that exposure to lead may decrease fertility. Individuals working with paints/varnishes and auto manufacturing may be at risk.

Medical Treatments and Materials: Repeated exposure to sources of radiation, such as x-rays and cancer treatments (e.g., chemotherapy), has been shown to affect sperm production and contribute to ovarian problems.

Ethylene Oxide: Exposure to ethylene oxide, a chemical used in the sterilization of surgical instruments and in the manufacturing of certain pesticides, during early pregnancy may cause birth defects. Exposure is also thought to cause miscarriage in some women.

Other Environmental Factors: Certain substances found in the chemical and waste material industries and in paper manufacturing, have been associated with a high risk of reproductive problems.

Travel Safely When Pregnant

Travel during pregnancy is fine in normal pregnancies, if you take the following steps to ensure your comfort and physical safety:

  • Take nutritious snacks and water so you can eat and drink frequently
  • Dress in comfortable clothes and shoes that are appropriate for the trip
  • Find comfortable positions and move about as frequently as possible
  • Always wear your seat belt, with the bottom belt across your hips, not over your abdomen
  • Carry your prenatal record from youpractitionerer (particularly around your due date)

Some special considerations for air travel are:

  • Avoid air travel in the last few weeks of pregnancy; some airlines have policies that forbid travel during the last few weeks of pregnancy.
  • Take pillows to keep yourself comfortable during travel
Beat The Heat

High internal body temperatures are hazardous to developing embryos, fetuses and a man's sperm production.

Hot tubs are only safe to use during pregnancy when the temperature is set at 100 degrees and below, especially during the first trimester. Most hot tubs are set between 105 to 120 degrees F, which is too high for pregnant women. If you can't control the water temperature or aren't certain how hot it is, don't use one.

The high temperature of the sauna may raise your core body temperature. Most core body temperatures range from 97 to 98.8 degrees. There have been documented complications to pregnancy when a woman's core body temperature has been raised.

Protect Yourself From Infectious Diseases

Measles: Women, not previously vaccinated against measles, may develop pneumonia (about 3% of the time) which is harmful to the mother and the baby. Miscarriage and low birth weight deliveries may occur if the mother gets the disease. Additionally, mothers infected close to term, may transmit the virus to the infant. Vaccination is not recommended during pregnancy, instead, all women who are not immune and have been exposed are given immune serum globulin, 5 ml within 3 days of exposure.

Chickenpox, also known as varicella, is a mild viral infection that is common in children. Those who had chickenpox as a child are not likely to get it again. However, pregnant women with no history of chickenpox, have a greater risk of getting the illness, and may have more serious symptoms and occasionally risks to the fetus. For these women, doctors will usually administer a varicella-zoster immune globulin (VZIG) injection, soon after exposure to chickenpox, to prevent infection.

Fifth disease: Fifth disease, a flu-like syndrome, is a common disease, which can be an exposure concern for pregnant women. While most are immune to this illness, pregnant women who contract this illness, risk transmission to the fetus and possible miscarriage.

HIV: HIV infected women run the risk of transmitting the virus to their child. To reduce this risk, doctors may recommend either treating mother and child with zidovudine (AZT), or elective cesarean delivery at 38 weeks of pregnancy.

Why Worry

Obstetric ultrasound: There is no scientific evidence that obstetric ultrasound (which is different than other types of ultrasound) is dangerous at any point in pregnancy. However, most providers agree that ultrasound should only be used for specific medical indications, just like any other medical procedure.

Television Watching TV has no more risk in pregnancy than other times in your life. Excessive TV watching is associated with inactivity and its associated health hazards. You and your baby will feel a lot better if you substitute some TV time with enjoyable walks outdoors.

Computers: Although the data on the risks of computer exposure is limited it is generally recommend to limit exposure to video display terminals (VDTs) during pregnancy by:

  1. using a screen cover -- available at major office supply stores
  2. positioning your work space so that any other computers are at least3-4 feet away.

Not all exercises or diets are suitable for everyone. Before you begin this program, you should have permission from your doctor to participate in vigorous exercise and change of diet. If you feel discomfort or pain when you exercise, do not continue. The instructions and advice presented are in no way intended as a substitute for medical counseling. The creators, producers, participants and distributors of this site disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the exercise and advice provided here.

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