Courtesy of Northern Westchester Hospital
When it comes to pregnancy, sometimes it’s hard to know what’s true, and which commonly accepted “facts” are outdated, incorrect, or even harmful. While much traditional wisdom gets handed down within a family, there are facts about fertility, pregnancy, and birth that every expecting mother should know. Read on to learn from Dr. Navid Mootabar, MD, Chief of Obstetrics & Gynecology, and Director at Large of the Institute of Robotic & Minimally Invasive Surgery at Northern Westchester Hospital (NWH), the ten best tips for moms-to-be.
1. Take a prenatal vitamin.
According to Dr. Mootabar, while it’s uncertain whether women who consume a well-balanced diet need prenatal vitamins, they can be beneficial. Look for a prenatal vitamin with the proper folic acid intake of 400-800 micrograms, an iron content of 30 milligrams, 600 IU of vitamin D, and 1,000 milligrams of calcium.
2. “You don’t need to eat for two.”
While it’s important to eat a well-balanced diet, the expression “eating for two” is misleading. In fact, you only need to increase your calorie intake by 350-450 extra calories a day. The recommended weight gain for pregnancy is 25-35 pounds (15-20 pounds for overweight women). A healthy diet should include two servings of fish weekly. Choose fish high in DHA and low in mercury; avoid shark, swordfish, mackerel, and tilefish. And good news for sushi lovers: While pregnant women should avoid raw fish, according to Dr. Mootabar, “there’s no evidence to suggest that sushi prepared in a clean, reputable place poses a risk.” So enjoy your tempura and California rolls!
3. Avoid alcohol.
While some studies suggest that a small amount of alcohol may be safe, Dr. Mootabar recommends speaking with your physician first.
4. Have sex if you’re in the mood.
If you feel comfortable having sex while pregnant, there’s no reason to wait until after baby arrives. Intercourse won’t harm the baby or cause pre-term labor. Can sex induce labor at the end of a pregnancy? While some studies suggest semen contains prostaglandins that can stimulate labor, there’s no clear-cut evidence for this old wives’ tale.
5. Take a dip.
Swimming pools are fine for pregnant women as long as the water is below body temperature. However, avoid hot tubs.
6. You don’t need to give up your beauty routine.
Nail polish and cosmetics are generally safe during pregnancy. Topical creams containing salicylic acid are unlikely to pose a risk when used sparingly, as very little is absorbed through the skin. As for hair dyes, the amount of dye material that enters the body is small, so hair dye is presumed safe during pregnancy.
7. Take care of your smile.
Poor oral hygiene can lead to pre-term labor, so Dr. Mootabar recommends getting a dental cleaning during pregnancy. Pregnant women should continue their routine dental procedures, such as root canals and fillings, and can even undergo X-rays as long as the abdomen and thyroid are shielded.
8. Don’t give up your daily coffee – but DO cut back to safe amounts.
Small amounts of caffeine are fine for pregnant women, but limit yourself to two cups a day. There’s no evidence that artificial sweeteners increase the risk of birth defects, with the possible exception of saccharin. While there’s conflicting data, some research suggests this sweetener may increase the risk of bladder cancer in babies.
9. Don’t become easy mosquito prey.
Going on a babymoon or getaway before baby? Be sure to use insect repellents that have DEET. They’re safe in pregnancy and should be used in areas at high risk for the Zika virus, which spreads through infected mosquitoes and can cause birth defects.
10. Break that cigarette and vaping habit.
Smoking can cause pregnancy loss, low birth weight, stillbirth, and other serious problems. Dr. Mootabar notes that while the long-term effects of vaping are unknown, it’s not safe during pregnancy. “In fact, we’re seeing a huge increase in vaping-related illnesses and respiratory issues.” Bottom line: no smoking, vaping, marijuana or nicotine. Northern Westchester Hospital offers free smoking cessation classes. To register, call (914) 666-1868.
If you’re expecting, be sure to check out our mother/baby classes at nwhfamilycenter.eventbrite.com
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