Making Healthy Lifestyle Choices for a Heathy Pregnancy

Prescription and non-prescription (over-the-counter -OTC) medications should be taken only if doctors and nurses ordered or approved them. Let your doctor/midwife know on your first prenatal visit about any medication you are currently taking, including those for a pre-existing medical condition, over-the-counter drugs, and vitamins. Before your next visit, make a note of what each medication is and what it is for.

It is best to ask your provider what medication you can take for problems such as headache, indigestion, etc. before they are needed.

Discuss with your doctor/midwife the following points about any and all medications you are taking:

  • The proper way (when and how) to take each of your medications.
  • Risk versus benefits of all medication prescribed (this includes over-the-counter drugs).
  • Possible risks of not taking a prescribed medication.
  • Any possible side effect of each medication prescribed.
  • Safe alternatives to taking these prescribed medications, especially during the first trimester.

Let your provider know if there is any reason you cannot take your medication as prescribed,including expense, your inability to obtain it, any negative side effects or the medication schedule itself.

Recreational and Street Drugs

Using recreational or street drugs during pregnancy can have serious harmful effects on a developing baby. Substances such as opium derivatives, barbiturates and amphetamines can cause fetal distress, low birth weight, and drug withdrawal in a newborn. Examples of specific drugs and their possible effects including the following:

  • Marijuana "pot" - fetal growth retardation.
  • Cocaine - chronic use related to possible learning difficulties and miscarriage.
  • Valium - cleft lip and palate, respiratory difficulties, decreased muscle tone, and low body temperature.
  • Other drugs to avoid include LSD, angel dust, speed (amphetamines), downers (barbiturates).

Any illicit drug use during pregnancy is a danger to an unborn baby. Talk to your provider for additional information on drug use during pregnancy, as well as recommendations for your personal situation.


X-rays - It is your responsibility to tell all your doctors and nurses (including dentists) that you are pregnant before an X-ray is taken. Exposure to X-rays or other diagnostic techniques that use X-rays, such as CAT scans or fluoroscopy can be extremely harmful to a developing baby. If X-rays are absolutely required, make sure that a lead shield is placed over your abdomen to protect your baby.

Microwave Ovens - Ordinary use of microwave ovens has not been proven to cause harm to you or your developing baby. Follow the manufacturer`s directions for use and don`t stand in front of or right next to the oven when it is in operation.

Video Display Terminals - At this time, there is no proof that video display terminals (VDTs) emit a dose of radiation that is high enough to cause any harm to a pregnant woman or her developing baby. However, turn the VDT off when it is not in use.

Other Safety Considerations

Hot Tubs, Saunas, and Steam Baths - Our doctors and nurses normally recommend that you do not use hot tubs, saunas, and steam baths during pregnancy. An abnormally high body temperature (hyperthermia) may contribute to an increased risk of neural tube defects to an unborn baby. When you are taking a tub bath, keep the temperature of the water below 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Hazardous Chemicals - In addition to being sensitive to chemicals that pose a hazard at any time, you should be aware that there are certain chemicals that may create special problems for your unborn baby. These include lead or lead dust and permanent hair colorings. In addition, healthcare experts and environmental experts advise that you avoid any prolonged exposure to common household cleaning solvents, such as turpentine, that are used in arts and crafts, and indoor and outdoor pesticides.

Anesthesia - General anesthesia for surgery or dental work, when used on a woman who is pregnant, can significantly affect her unborn baby. It is important to discuss the planned use of any anesthesia, regional, local, or generals.

Reprinted from Her HealthCare.