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Nine Months : Some pregnancy fears addressed

Although not common and obviously not desirable, women do conceive while still having the coil in place and most of them go on to have healthy babies. However, the first step is to determine whether the pregnancy is in the womb or in a fallopian tube (as is common in such cases). This can be established through an ultrasound scan. If the pregnancy is in the womb and is at an early stage, the coil is usually removed but there is a small risk of miscarriage. It is more difficult to remove the coil later on; it may be left where it is, and the baby is usually born unharmed. If the pregnancy is in the fallopian tube, it may lead on to a miscarriage.



Yes, it is. The hormones in the Pill (both the combined oral contraceptive and the Mini-Pill are similar to the oestrogen and progesterone that occur naturally in your body. The amount of hormones in the Pill is very small and once you stop taking it the hormones will disappear very rapidly from your body, so it is unlikely to cause any harm to the developing baby.

There is no evidence that the morning-after pill has caused abnormalities in any babies. However, to set your mind to rest, you could go back to the clinic where you got the pill, have the pregnancy confirmed, and discuss any possible ill-effects, as well as whether a termination is advisable.

No more than a tentative link has ever been suggested between the use of spermicides and the incidence of certain birth defects (Down's syndrome and limb deformaties). And the most recent and most convincing studies have found no increase in the incidence of such defects even with the repeated use of spermicides in early pregnancy. So according to the best information available, there appears to be nothing to worry about.

No, it definitely isn't. If you just can't stop smoking for the sake of your unborn baby, at least try and cut down on the number of cigarettes you smoke in a day. Click here for finding out how you harm your baby when you smoke

No. Passive smoking, which means being present when others are smoking is as bad as smoking yourself. Your unborn baby is still inhaling the smoke. So, next time someone smokes around you, move away.

Studies have shown that saccharin crosses the placenta and is disposed of very slowly in the unborn baby's tissues. Sweeteners based on aspartame, however are safer and can be used in moderation during pregnancy. Although there is no definite yes or no to the use of sweeteners, studies have been carried out on animals and harmful effects of saccharin to the foetus have been demonstrated. As the chances of harm are slight, if you did have any saccharin before you knew you were pregnant, you needn't worry too much.

Herbal teas are an excellent alternative to caffeinated tea or coffee. However, if you want to drink herbal teas in pregnancy, it is sensible to check first with a pharmacist who sells herbal teas, or a herbalist. Most pre-packaged herbal teas won't harm the baby, but some may have unwanted effects. Raspberry leaf tea is a traditional remedy to ease labour while peppermint tea helps to alleviate nausea.

Certain varieties of cheese carry the risk of Listeria infection. Use the list below to find out what is safe and what is not:

Cheese to avoid: White skin ones(pasteurised or unpasteurised) like Brie, Camembert, Cambozola and blue veined ones like Stilton, Dolcelatte, Gorgonzola, Roquefort, Danish Blue or Blue Brie

Safe cheeses: Soft cheeses like Philadelphia, Mozzarella, cottage cheese, cream cheeses, DairyLea etc. are safe to eat. Hard cheeses like Cheddar, Cheshire, Wensleydale, Leicester, Edam, Gouda, smoked, Parmesan etc (even unpasteurised) are safe to eat

Cats are a common cause of an infection called toxoplasmosis which is not dangerous for you but can have serious consequences on your unborn baby. However, if you've had the cat with you for a long time, it is quite possible that you've already got the infection and are now immune to it. In that case, you don't have to worry. However, to be on the safe side (assuming you haven't caught the infection before), don't clean the cat litter yourself and even if you have to, wear gloves and then wash your hands well afterwards.

Nothing can be more relaxing than soaking in a warm bath with your favourite pregnancy safe bath oil. It was thought previously that dirty bath water can make its way into the cervix through the vagina and cause infection. However, it has been found that it is not so and even if the water does travel up, it can't infect the foetus as it is well-protected by many layers of membranes. It is now considered absolutely safe to have a bath in normal pregnancies till the time your mucous plug has been expelled or your waters have ruptured (as having a bath then could cause infection). However, do remember that the bath water should be warm and not hot.

It is safe to stroke most of your body but vigorous rubbing or kneading of the abdomen is not advised. You may find that, except in the first trimester, you are not comfortable lying on your front.

Some essential oils are safe while others are unsafe in pregnancy.

Chamomile, geranium, grapefruit, jasmine, lavender, mandarin, neroli, rose, sandalwood , tangerine and ylang ylang are recommended in pregnancy.

Basil, clary, sage, hyssop, juniper berry, marjoram, myrrh, pine, rosemary, sage, thyme and bay should not be used in pregnancy.

There has been no convincing evidence to suggest that microwaves are unsafe in pregnancy. However, you must ensure that there are no leaks in your microwave oven and to be on the safe side, don't stand in front of it when it is in use.

Although research points out that X-rays are harmful for the foetus, it is wrong to conclude that all X-rays done for diagnostic purposes will cause harm. A number of factors (like dose of radiation, age of foetus when exposed and the area being X-rayed) play a role in determining if there will be any damage. With modern equipment available today, low doses are given and only the area to be x-rayed is exposed to the rays.

To be on the safe side, have an X-ray taken only when there is no other diagnostic test available. On the other hand, if you've had an X-ray recently for your hand or tooth, don't start losing your sleep over it. You've most definitely not caused any harm to your baby. If you have any concerns, do discuss with your midwife or doctor.

You'd be better off cleaning your bathroom than not cleaning it at all and allowing it to become a cause of infection. Yes, it is safe to clean the bathroom using commonly available cleaning products. However, remember not to inhale any strong odours and wear gloves while using the cleaning product.

With your centre of gravity going haywire, you are bound to have a fall sooner or later in pregnancy and most women, ironically fall on their bellies! If it is so common then it is bound to be realtively safe. The answer is YES. Most common falls will not cause any harm to your baby as she is well-protected by amniotic fluid which acts as an excellent shock absorber. However, if you have a major accident, you may need to have your baby monitored. Also, is after any fall or accident, you experience vaginal bleeding, uterine contractions or leakage of amniotic fluid and no movement of the baby, you must get to a doctor immediately.

Like all other drugs, having an anaethesia is an undesirable event in pregnancy. In most cases, a local anaesthetic can suffice. However, if a general anaesthesia is required as for an emergency surgery during pregnancy, you must ensure (by discussing with the anaesthetist) that the drug being used is safe in pregnancy and that the oxygen supply to the baby will not be affected. Previously, anaesthesia was used as a form of pain relief. It can cause extreme sedation in the baby so it was ensured that the baby was delivered before the effect of the drug could reach him.

In the modern world today where more and more women are becoming career-oriented, having babies is not the first priority on many female minds now. It is quite common for today's woman to have her first baby in late twenties or thirties. Age alone does not play the most important role in a successful pregnancy and healthy baby. A number of factors like stress, maternal health etc. play equally important roles. However, being pregnant over 35 years of age puts you in a category of women who may be more vulnerable to certain problems as compared to younger mothers. Women over 35 years have a higher chance of their babies being affected by Down's syndrome (which can be tested prenatally). They are also more likely to develop high blood pressure or cardiovascular complications and problems during labour.

If you're over 35, look after yourself even more during pregnancy and there is no reason why you should not deliver a healthy baby.

It is safe to carry moderate loads in pregnancy. It is even safe to carry your older child as well contrary to what others say. However, you must ensure that you are lifting in the proper way by bending at your knees and not at your waist. Also, as your centre of gravity is anyway tilted forwards, take special care in walking while carrying and avoid any accidental slips and falls.

Being a vegetarian does not mean that you have less chances of having a healthy baby. It means that you may have to alter your diet in a way that your baby gets enough calcium, protein, vitamins and other minerals. This may mean taking additional supplements, especially if you're a vegan (not taking milk or eggs). Also, the iron derived from plant sources is less easily absorbed by the body as compared to that from animal sources. So, if you're a vegetarian, you may benefit by having a glass of orange juice (which aids iron absorption) along with your green, leafy vegetables. Although I'm not a vegetarian, during my pregnancy I developed a strong aversion to chicken, fish, eggs and meat. I ensured that I drank lots of milk and had dry fruits and other nutritious food to try and compensate for all that I wasn't eating. It worked, I never became anaemic or took any supplements and went on to have a healthy baby girl weighing 7lbs 7 oz.

It is usually perfectly safe for couples to enjoy a sexual relationship throughout pregnancy. In fact, a healthy sex life is positively beneficial, because as well as maintaining your relationship with your partner, it helps you to unwind, reminds you that you are a sensual woman as well as a mother-to-be, and it can also be a good form of exercise. Sexual intercourse cannot hurt your baby who is safely cushioned in a bag of fluid within your womb; even deep penetration is not harmful.

However, you may be advised not to have sex if you have a history of miscarriage or premature labours. It may also be sensible to avoid intercourse if there is unexplained bleeding, and after your waters have broken. Sex is also not advised in cases of placenta praevia, or where the placenta has partially dislodged itself from the womb wall, because penetration could increase the risk of bleeding.

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Although it is safe to sleep on your belly (which is the favourite sleeping position for many people), you may find it very uncomfortable as your tummy expands.

The best position for sleeping is on your side (preferably the left side). This ensures that your baby gets maximum supply of blood and nutrients.

Sleeping on your back is not advisable in pregnancy as it puts pressure on your back and this may in turn aggravate backaches, piles and even cause low blood pressure (as the vein returning blood from lower part of body to the heart is also pressed upon when you lie on your back).

The best position for sleeping is on your side (preferably the left side). This ensures that your baby gets maximum supply of blood and nutrients.

Waxing, plucking and shaving hair is absolutely safe in pregnancy. However, shaving creams and bleaches are best avoided.

It is safe to drive in a normal pregnancy right through the nine months. However, remember to fasten your seat belt and if you are going on a long drive, take breaks on an hourly basis and walk around to get your legs moving. Don't drive if you are feeling dizzy or unwell and most importantly, never try to drive when in labour. Call for an ambulance if no one is available to take you to the hospital.

It is generally accepted that if your job involves long hours of standing, you are more likely to suffer from or aggravate backache, piles and varicose veins. Try and cut down your working hours if possible and start your leave earlier. If you must stay at work, you can try and reduce the effects by wearing support tights and taking short breaks.

It is never absolutely safe to have fever, leave alone in pregnancy when someone else's well-being also depends on you. Fever in pregnancy should be brought down as soon as possible so that it doesn't rise high. You must contact the doctor if you are running a temperature. Temperature over 102 degrees F for a couple of days or more can cause birth defects in your baby. Try to bring down a fever by sponging or having a cool bath. Paracetamol is a safe drug to use in pregnancy and can be taken on the doctor's advice in an event of fever. If your fever is caused by a bacterial infection, you may be prescribed pregnancy-safe antibiotics.

Although it sounds exciting, the idea of giving birth underwater is still not widely accepted in the medical world. Add to it the fact that not many midwives are experienced enough to deal with underwater births. There is a risk of the baby drowning in the water or developing other complications. What is more acceptable is being in water (birthing pool) till the time the baby is ready to be born and then coming out of the water to deliver, which gives the best of both worlds.

Click here for more information on water births.

When forceps or vacuum (ventouse) are used in delivering your baby, it is called an assisted delivery. Such a delivery may be carried out if there are risks in continuing with a normal delivery without any assistance. Forceps and vacuum have been used for many years and the doctors are capable of having a successful delivery using these techniques.

Click here for more information on assisted deliveries

There is no real evidence that points out whether a vaginal or caesarean delivery is a safer option for delivering a breech baby. It largely depends on the doctor's expertise in handling a vaginal delivery for breech babies (midwives do not carry out such deliveries). It is safe to try and deliver vaginally first only if the doctor is much experienced in handling the delivery and that all staff are prepared for an emergency caesarean, if need be.

The procedure of turning a breech baby in the right position for birth is also called external cephalic version (ECV). It is usually carried out near term if the baby is still in the breech position. Pressure is applied (by the hands) on the mother's abdomen to try and turn the baby around gently. All this is carried out while monitoring the baby's condition continuously on the ultrasound. If carried out by a physician trained in performing ECV, the entire procedure can be relatively safe and even help in avoiding a caesarean. The physician must be prepared to carry out an emergency caesarean if the need arises. Sometimes, complications may develop like the umbilical cord getting compressed or the placenta being disturbed.




               

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