(As seen on KSL.com)
Growing a human inside your body has got to be the most complex thing a woman can do without really trying. Pregnancy brings excitement, but also important questions along the way. Dr. Steven Beverly at Ogden Clinic’s Women’s Center at McKay Dee Hospital took time to answer some frequently asked questions moms-to-be have about food and lifestyle restrictions.
Amidst the discomfort of swollen ankles and back pain, a color touch-up or a glossy manicure can work wonders to help a woman feel refreshed. But are beauty products safe to use while carrying a baby?
Can I color my hair?
The verdict from physicians used to be a solid “no” but that’s changed in recent years. “We have not found any links between dyeing your hair during pregnancy and any adverse obstetrical outcomes” says Dr. Beverly. Both semi-permanent and permanent dyes are not highly toxic and safe to use. Small amounts of hair dye may be absorbed by the skin, but not enough to harm a developing fetus in any way.
Are acrylic or gel nails safe?
As long as the nail salon follows recommended practices for hygiene including sterilizing their tools, it’s fine to treat yourself to a manicure or pedicure while pregnant.
What about spray tanning?
Sunless tanners use DHA to temporarily color skin. While DHA is a safe ingredient for skin, we don’t know how breathing it in could affect your baby. To err on the side of caution, Dr. Beverly discourages spray tanning while pregnant. Bronzing lotion or powders may be a safer alternative if a sunless glow is important to you.
You may experience an increased libido or a lowered sex drive during pregnancy and neither is uncommon. In any case, sex is safe throughout all trimesters. “Your baby is protected inside your amniotic sac. Unless your doctor has advised against having sex for a medical reason, sex is not harmful to you or your baby.”
What you eat and drink during pregnancy influences your baby’s development and health. Dr. Beverly shares a few “red-flag foods” to avoid while pregnant.
Certain seafood and fish
“Predator fish are where we run into higher concentrations of mercury which could harm a developing baby” says Dr. Beverly. “Seafood like tilapia, catfish, shrimp, and scallops are generally fine to eat while pregnant; salmon and tuna are safe in moderation.” Dr. Beverly warns against consuming larger fish like bonefish, swordfish, and tilefish due to the concentrated amount of mercury they absorb.
There are two dangers to watch for when it comes to deli meats: Preservatives and listeria.
Nitrites and nitrates are preservatives added to lunch meat, hot dogs, bacon, and other processed foods that are unsafe to eat while pregnant. “In recent years, companies have started removing preservatives from their deli meats,” says Dr. Beverly, “so, if you check the label and the product is preservative-free, it’s safe to consume.”
Listeria is a bacteria that can develop on lunch meats and unpasteurized dairy. Consuming it can result in stillbirth, miscarriage, or other serious health problems. The good news is that listeria can be cooked out of lunch meat. “Lunch meat is not off-limits while you’re pregnant, but you will need to heat lunch meat until it’s hot before consuming it” says Dr. Beverly.
When it comes to dairy, Dr. Beverly advises staying away from soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk like feta, brie, and queso fresco. “Ensure your cheese was made with pasteurized milk to avoid the presence of listeria.”
Traveling up to 34 weeks poses little risk for moms-to-be, but Dr. Beverly encourages women to get up and move around every hour or so while traveling. “You’re hypercoagulable during pregnancy meaning blood clots can develop easily. Sitting confined in a plane or car can restrict blood flow through the knees and the bend of the hip.” Keep the blood flowing by standing up and moving as often as you can.
“This isn’t a big issue early in pregnancy, but after your fifth month, your back is not the best position to sleep in. Back sleeping puts extra pressure on your vena cava (the vessels that carry blood from your heart to your legs and feet.)” Side sleeping is advised by Dr. Beverly, and left is best. “I encourage left-side sleeping but it’s alright if you roll onto your right side occasionally. Also, you don’t need to sleep completely on your side. For back or belly support, you can prop a pillow under your stomach to allow a slight lean. This will keep blood flowing as it should.”
Find Dr. Beverly at Ogden Clinic’s Women’s Center inside McKay Dee Hospital in Ogden. Visit ogdenclinic.com to learn more about him and other providers at Ogden Clinic.