Pregnancy: Common Questions

Can I change the cat litter box?

Cats carry a disease called toxoplasmosis.  In adult humans, it show up as a mild infection of the blood and organs.  If your are infected during pregnancy, the baby’s brain and eyes could be damaged.  To be safe, have someone else change the litter.  If you must handle the cat litter, wear a paper mask over your nose and mouth  and wear gloves and wash your hands afterward.

Can I use a jacuzzi/hot tub or sauna?

Don’t sit in a hot tub or jacuzzi.  A long warm bath is fine, but not in water over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  A hot bath, which is not uncomfortable or scalding, is a safer way to relax. In a bath much of your upper body will remain out of the water, making you less likely to overheat. Additionally, the water in a bath begins to cool off, as opposed to a hot tub, further reducing any risk of overheating.

For many pregnant women, sitting in a hot tub sounds like a great way to ease muscle aches related to pregnancy. It is important to use caution when choosing a hot tub for relaxation and pain relief. Hot tubs can cause hyperthermia, which is an abnormally high body temperature.

According to the Organization of Teratology Information Services (OTIS), a body temperature of 101º F and above can raise concerns during pregnancy. Some studies have shown an increased risk of birth defects in babies of women who had an increased body temperature during the first trimester of pregnancy.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) states that becoming overheated in a hot tub is not recommended during pregnancy. ACOG also recommends that pregnant women never let their core body temperature rise above 102.2º F.

Although the specific degree differs, both OTIS and ACOG attest to the concern related to hot tub use during pregnancy.

Hot tubs are often factory programmed to maintain a water temperature of approximately 104º F. It takes only 10-20 minutes in a hot tub to raise your body temperature to 102º F or higher. To maintain a steady temperature, water is circulated and re-circulated through the hot tub to pump out cold water and pump in hot water.

Will working harm my baby?

In most cases, working throughout your pregnancy will not be harmful to your baby.  There may be concerns if your job involves working with chemicals, dangerous machinery of lifting/standing for long periods of time.

As your pregnancy progresses, everyday activities such as sitting and standing can become uncomfortable. Remember to take short, frequent breaks to combat fatigue.  Moving around every few hours can also ease muscle tension and help prevent fluid buildup in your legs and feet.

When sitting, use an adjustable chair with good lower back support  to help make long hours of sitting easier — especially as your weight and posture change. If your chair isn’t adjustable, use a small pillow or cushion to provide extra support for your back. Don’t cross your legs.

If you have to stand for long periods of time, put one of your feet up on a footrest, low stool or box. Switch feet every so often and take frequent breaks. Wear comfortable shoes with good arch support. Consider wearing support hose, too.

Even when you’re lifting something light, proper form can spare your back. Bend at your knees, not your waist. Get a good grip and test the weight of the load; tighten your abdominal muscles and exhale as you lift; lift with your legs, not with your back; carry the load close to your body and hold the load so that you can see where you are going. Avoid twisting your body while lifting.

Certain working conditions might increase your risk of complications during pregnancy — especially if you’re at high risk of preterm labor — including:  exposure to harmful substances. excessive noise, heavy vibrations, such as from large machines or extreme temperatures. If you’re concerned about any of these issues, mention it to your health care provider. Together you can decide if you need to take special precautions or modify your work duties during your pregnancy.

I am breaking out with acne, Why and What can I do about it? 

Pregnancy acne isn’t a special form of acne. Many women simply seem to have trouble with acne during pregnancy. Although it isn’t always clear what causes acne to get worse during pregnancy, the likely culprit for most women is an overproduction of oil (sebum) — which happens when certain hormones go into overdrive.  You have options for treating acne during pregnancy including self-care and medication. To treat pregnancy acne, start with good skin care: Wash acne-prone areas carefully. Be gentle and use a mild cleanser with lukewarm water in the morning and at night. You might also wash your skin after exercising. If you have oily hair, shampoo daily. Be careful to keep hair off your face. Avoid picking, scratching, popping or squeezing acne sores. These habits can cause scarring. Look for cosmetic products like skin care creams, lotions and oils that do not block the pores of the skin which are called noncomedogenic or nonacnegenic products (products that do not contain ingredients known to cause acne breakouts).

Beyond self-care, you might consider medication as a treatment for pregnancy acne. However, any medication that’s applied to your skin or swallowed can enter your bloodstream and affect your baby. As a result, it’s important to exercise caution during pregnancy — even with over-the-counter products.

Options for treating pregnancy acne with medication include erythromycin (Erygel), clindamycin (Cleocin T, Clindagel, others) and azelaic acid (Azelex, Finacea). These medications are typically applied to the skin and are available by prescription. However, opinions about using benzoyl peroxide to treat pregnancy acne are mixed. There’s little research on the safety of benzoyl peroxide during pregnancy, although problems haven’t been reported.

Organization of Teratology Information Services, http://otispregnancy.org/pdf/hyperthermia.pdf

Planning Your Pregnancy and Birth Third Ed. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, CH. 5.

Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide. Simkin, Penny P.T., et al, CH. 5.

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