Dr. Michelle Morgan and Dr. Ching-Lynn Chen of Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York visited the Saturday Early Show to provide some answers. They explained that as medical understanding increases, they are better able to make suggestions to help ensure the safety of women and their babies.
On Saturday, they offered answers to questions most first-time pregnant women have:
- Can I drink alcohol, coffee and soda?
A.When you consider drinking anything with caffeine, you should limit yourself to one or two servings a day. The more caffeine in your system, the more harm you could be doing to the baby. Also be careful about how much diet soda you drink. The doctors recommend no more than two servings a day of Nutrasweet.
Avoid alcohol as much as possible.
- Can I have sex?
A. It's totally fine to have sex when you are pregnant as long as you have no complications. You may notice you'll have some slight spotting or bleeding, which is nothing to be overly concerned about. However, you should mention it to the doctor. Also, tell your doctor if you experience any pain during intercourse.
- Can I get my hair and nails done?
A. There was a time when we told pregnant women to avoid getting their hair dyed. But we've stepped back from that a bit. Now we say that you should avoid doing it during the first trimester. But after that, it's okay. The same goes with getting your nails done: No during the first trimester, fine after that.
- Is it safe to exercise?
A. It is okay to exercise while pregnant. But take it easy. Moderation is key. While exercising, be sure that your heart doesn't beat more than 140 times a minute, and don't get overheated (which is why it's a good idea to drink lots of water).
There are certain exercises pregnant women should avoid, though, such as horseback riding and skiing. You don't want to put yourself at risk of losing your balance.
- What foods should I avoid?
A. Soft cheese and anything else that isn't pasteurized. (The reason is these foods can contain bacteria which cause listeriosis.)
Stay away from meats that aren't cooked enough, and a number of deep-water fish, because of concerns about mercury .. These include mackerel, shark, swordfish -- and some doctors would even put tuna on that list. It's also a good idea to stay away from sushi.
- How should I sleep?
A. After the 20-week mark, pregnant women should sleep on their left side in the fetal position. You never want to sleep on your back because it can restrict blood circulation.
- Can I travel by plane?
A. Air travel is fine up until the 34- to 36-week mark, provided that you've had no complications. There are some airlines that will ask for a doctor's note before allowing you to travel after the 20-week mark, so be prepared to ask for a note when making plans. And when traveling be sure that you pick a location that can adequately handle a pregnant woman.
- Is it safe to take over-the-counter drugs?
A. Speak directly with your own physician about this. The short answer is that some drugs are safe and others are not. And some drugs (such as ibuprofen) are considered safe in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy and not safe after that.
- Are hot tubs, saunas and spas safe?
A. Avoid them. They can raise your core body temperature, which can be harmful to the baby.
- How much weight should I gain?
A. The answer to this question greatly depends on how much you weighed before becoming pregnant. As a general rule we like to say that a woman should gain anywhere from 25-40 pounds.