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.
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.
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.
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
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
|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
- Carry your prenatal
record from youpractitionerer (particularly around your due
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
body temperatures are hazardous to developing embryos, fetuses
and a man's sperm production.
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
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
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.
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, 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 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.
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
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.
Although the data on the
risks of computer exposure is limited it is generally recommend
to limit exposure to video display terminals (VDTs) during
- using a screen cover -- available at major office supply stores
- positioning your work space so that any other computers are at least3-4 feet away.