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Obstetrics FAQs

What medications can I take during my pregnancy?
See handout from first prenatal visit or click here for a copy

Can I get a tattoo?
Wait until after pregnancy. The best advice is to wait until after delivery, to decrease the risk of any infection that might harm your baby. 

Can I get a massage?
Generally, massage should be fine at any time during pregnancy. After 26 weeks, lying flat for prolonged time may affect blood flow to the pregnancy, so a small pillow under the right hip will help tilt the uterus off of the big blood vessels in the pelvis and prevent any problems. If you have had any problems in the pregnancy, especially preterm contractions, talk to your providers to ensure there are no concerns unique to your condition. 

Can I have dental work done?
Most dental work is fine as long as it can be done under local anesthesia. 

If so, what pain medications can my dentist prescribe?
It is safe to use medication such as Tylenol with codeine or other narcotic type pain relievers. You should not take Aspirin, Motrin, Aleve or Ibuprofen type medicines. 

Can I have a flu shot?
Yes, after 12 weeks. All pregnant women are encouraged and recommended to receive a flu shot after the first trimester. 

Can I see any provider for any service?
Chesapeake Women's Health is a comprehensive women's healthcare practice offering traditional OB/GYN services as well as Specialty services such as Advanced Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery, High Risk Obstetrics, and Certified Nurse Midwifery. While all of our providers have comprehensive training some have special interests. Patients will always be allowed to see the provider of their choice. In some cases we may suggest one that has special interest or expertise for your problem. 

Do I have to see one provider for my entire pregnancy?
It's your choice. During pregnancy, we take care of you as a team. That way, you get to know all the providers who may at some time provide treatment, and we all know how pregnancy is treating you. That being said, we respect pregnancy care as an individual experience. If seeing only one or some providers is important to you, we will respect your wishes, but cannot guarantee that one specific provider will be able to be present during the delivery of your baby. 

Is it safe for me to paint?
Household jobs such as painting the nursery, and using cleaning products are all safe during pregnancy as long as you can work in a well ventilated area(good air flow, open windows), or can take frequent breaks. If you feel dizzy, nauseated, or light headed, it's time for a break. 

Is it safe to consume one alcoholic beverage per day?
We prefer you do not drink or smoke during pregnancy. Alcohol is one of the few substances that can have negative effects on the baby throughout pregnancy. There are no studies that have determined a "safe amount" that can be taken during pregnancy. It would be difficult to prove that an occasional glass of wine or equivalent would be detrimental to fetal wellbeing. We support the recommendation that NO alcohol be consumed during your pregnancy. 

Is it safe to eat raw shellfish? If so, how often can I eat it?
Almost all shell fish and fish contains mercury. If you eat fish, eat less than 12 oz a week. Do not eat Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel, Mokfish, or Tilefish. Cooked shellfish; Crabs, Clams, etc can be eaten without concern during pregnancy. Raw fish such as Sushi/Sashimi is not recommended. 

Can I get my nails done?
Yes, preferably in a well ventilated space. 

Can I drink caffeine?
We recommend limiting the amount of daily caffeine. Less is better. Studies on caffeine intake during pregnancy are somewhat conflicting in their recommendations on intake. The most reasonable consensus is to limit caffeine intake to no more than three 8 ounce caffeinated beverages daily. Limiting to one would be even better. 

Is it safe to get in a hot tub?
It's best not to spend time in a hot tub. Studies have suggested increased risk to the fetus if the mother's core temperature is increased for even brief periods of time particularly in the first trimester during fetal organ development. 

Is it safe to go on amusement park rides?
Once you are at or past four months, the uterus is exposed to possible trauma if you are thrown against safety bars, etc. You are also much more at risk for motion sickness on "thrill rides". 

Do I have to take prenatal vitamins?
We encourage all women to take a prenatal vitamin to supplement your diet. Often, these are not well tolerated in the first trimester, and we may recommend you wait to start until the nausea of the first few weeks has subsided. It is important to give your baby enough folic acid (folate), in the first trimester, for neural tube development. This medicine can be purchased individually and generally does not cause nausea. 

Can I exercise?
Staying fit is good preparation for your labor "workout". You should not start any vigorous aerobic programs that involve sudden stopping/starting/change of direction movements. This is because the pregnancy hormones cause the joints to "loosen" a bit, and there is a greater chance for injury. If you are comfortable with taking your pulse, you should exercise at a level that keeps your heart rate under 140. Otherwise, the simple rule is not to exercise to breathlessness-if you are panting and cannot speak in a full complete sentence, you're working too hard. The concern is that at this level of activity, your body may start to shift blood flow away from the pregnancy. Additionally, after 26 weeks you should avoid supine exercises (laying flat on your back). This position decreases blood flow back to your heart which isn't good for you or your baby. 

Can I swim?
Yes. This is a great activity during pregnancy especially in the last three months. No other activity (unless you've got a seat on the next Space Shuttle) can help relieve the effects of pregnancy and gravity on your body. 

Can I fly on an airplane?
Yes, but you will need to call airlines, some won't let you fly after 35-36 wks, you need to keep hydrated and move your feet and legs during the flight, in order to decrease the risk of blood clots. Cruise Ships won't let you board after 26 wks. It's best not to fly after 36 weeks, since there are limited options for treating emergencies in pregnancy at 35,000 feet. 

What do I do if I have been exposed to someone with chicken pox, fifths disease or shingles?
We can order a blood titer to see if you have immunity. If you know you have had chicken pox, you are immune for life, and have no risk from someone with chicken pox or shingles. Over half of adults are also immune to fifth's disease, if you have been exposed, there is a simple blood test that can determine if you have immunity. 

Is it safe to highlight, perm or relax my hair?
Yes, in a well ventilated room. There are no risks to having hair treatments if you limit it to once a trimester (every three months) 

Can I use a heating pad?
A heating pad should not be placed directly over the uterus for any prolonged period of time. Use on a low setting for no more than 15 minutes out of an hour. The heating pad can be placed on the sides of the belly if there are aches and pains and can be used on the back on a higher setting. 

Can I use over the counter teeth whitening?
No studies have been reported on the safety in pregnancy. Most of the products are hydrogen peroxide based which should be okay. We recommend considering waiting until after delivery. 

What should I do if I have been bit by a domestic animal? (i.e cat, dog, guinea pig, etc.)
Most animal bites do not cause infectious problems unless very deep and ragged. Clean the area well and treat with an antiseptic ointment such as Neosporin. Call your provider if there is a change in redness or swelling 

When will I have an ultrasound?
We may order an early ultrasound to confirm the due date if not certain. We offer a screening ultrasound between 11-14 weeks for evaluation for genetic abnormalities such as Down's Syndrome and Trisomy 18. We routinely perform an ultrasound between 18 and 22 weeks to evaluate fetal anatomy. This is the time patients are able to find out the sex of their baby if they want to. 

How long does an NST take?
Often, a "good" test may be complete in 20 minutes, if your baby needs some time to "wake up" the test can take longer. Plan on spending up to one hour for this evaluation If this a routine scheduled exam, you may be asked to wait by the nurses at the Birthing Center if there are emergencies that have come in. 

Is it safe to use a tanning bed during pregnancy?
Use of a tanning booth can increase body temperature, and there are concerns that increased body heat may cause harm to the developing fetus. Also, increased ultraviolet exposure (the "tanning rays") may cause an increase in pigment deposit over the cheekbone area of the face, creating a darkened area known as chloasma, or the "mask of pregnancy". Getting rays the good old fashioned way seems fine, just remember to drink plenty of cool liquids to keep your core temperature normal, and prevent dehydration.