General Health During Pregnancy

General Health During Pregnancy

Prenatal Care

Thyroid disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, anemia, and other chronic conditions or medical problems can affect your pregnancy. To best care for your unborn baby, we may involve other medical specialists, such as perinatologists, cardiologists, endocrinologists, and kidney specialists in your care.

If you develop a cold, ear infection, or other problem unrelated to your pregnancy, we ask that you make an appointment with your regular medical doctor’s office for evaluation and treatment.

Women with certain medical conditions such as poorly controlled hypertension, lung problems, or heart disease may be advised not to exercise. Should you develop complications during your pregnancy, such as preterm labor, bleeding, high blood pressure, or if your baby is not growing well, we may advise you to reduce your activity.

Things to Avoid While Pregnant

  • Smoking or spending time around people who smoke.
  • Alcoholic beverages.
  • Recreational drugs.
  • Any vitamins or herbal supplements you have not first cleared with us.
  • Hot tubs and whirlpool baths. Indoor and outdoor swimming pools are fine, as are warm tub baths and showers.
  • Exercising in extreme heat or humidity—stop exercising if you become short of breath, overheated, dizzy, dehydrated, or uncomfortable.
  • Sports that could cause a fall or abdominal trauma (e.g., soccer, basketball, hockey, gymnastics, cycling, water or snow skiing, snowboarding, rock climbing, vigorous racquet sports, and horseback riding. Do NOT scuba dive).

Dental Care

Dental hygiene is very important during pregnancy and there is no reason to discontinue regular dental checkups. However, if you need any dental procedures, be sure to tell your dentist you are pregnant.

  • After 13 weeks, X-rays are fine when your stomach is shielded with a lead apron.
  • Local anesthesia, such as novocaine, is okay. We ask that your dentist use local anesthesia without epinephrine.
  • Fillings, root canals, and tooth repairs may be done during pregnancy.
  • If you need antibiotics for a dental procedure or problem, please have your dentist call our office so we can recommend an antibiotic that is safe in pregnancy. Many antibiotics, such as penicillin, erythromycin, and cephalosporin are safe to use during pregnancy.


Physically active women with uncomplicated pregnancies should be able to remain active during pregnancy. Don’t overdo it—pregnancy is no time to take up a new sport that demands significant coordination such as rollerblading or step aerobics. Safe ways to stay active during pregnancy include yoga, brisk walking, hiking, backpacking, jogging, swimming, and using fitness equipment such as elliptical machines, treadmills, stationary bikes, etc. If you didn’t work out before you got pregnant and would like to start, walking is a great beginning exercise that you and your baby can continue after delivery.

As your pregnancy progresses, you will need to adjust your exercise routine and your pace. Avoid prolonged periods of exercise on your back after your fourth month. Low-impact activities are generally safer in pregnancy.

Food Safety

  • Thoroughly cook all meat such as beef, pork, and poultry
  • Wash raw fruits and vegetables before eating
  • Keep uncooked meats separate from vegetables, cooked foods, and ready-to-eat food
  • Avoid unpasteurized (raw) milk or foods made from unpasteurized milk
  • Wash hands, knives, and cutting boards after handling uncooked meats
  • Consume perishable and ready-to-eat foods as soon as possible
  • Limit solid white tuna to six ounces (one average meal) per week maximum

For more food safety information, visit the Food & Drug Administration website (FDA).


Weight gain recommendations during pregnancy are based upon your Body Mass Index (BMI), a measurement that is calculated from your pre-pregnant weight and height. It is recommended that women of average weight for their height only gain 25-35 pounds, depending on their individual needs. Women who are overweight pre-pregnancy are encouraged to gain less weight while those who are underweight should gain more. Most women need an extra 300 calories per day plus additional iron, protein, and folic acid. A balanced diet and a vitamin and mineral supplement will help you meet those needs.

The principles of a good diet in pregnancy are similar to those of an everyday healthy diet. Choose foods that are low in fat and sugar, and high in fiber and protein. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains should be staples.

Here are a few suggestions of lower-calorie food choices that provide good nutrition:

  • Drink skim milk or 1 percent instead of whole or 2 percent milk.
  • Choose nonfat or skim milk dairy products such as cheese, cottage cheese, and yogurt.
  • Eat fresh fruit instead of drinking fruit juice.
  • Drink six to eight glasses of water per day instead of fruit juice, juice drinks, sweetened ice tea, and soda.
  • Choose low-fat salad dressings and replace mayonnaise with low-fat yogurt.
  • Purchase leaner cuts of meat and poultry and cut off all visible fat and skin before cooking.

Be sure to take your prenatal vitamin every day, preferably on a full stomach or at night. Products with NutraSweet, Splenda, and caffeine are fine if you use them sparingly. One to two cups of coffee (150-300 mg of caffeine) per day is considered safe in pregnancy.

Sexual Relations

As long as you are comfortable, sexual intercourse during pregnancy is perfectly fine until your baby is born. He or she is safely cushioned in the amniotic fluid within your uterus. Avoid intercourse if your pregnancy is complicated by preterm labor, bleeding, or an abnormal location of your placenta. We will counsel you if you develop a condition that calls for sexual abstinence. If you think your water has broken or is leaking, avoid intercourse and go to the hospital for evaluation.


Please tell us if you plan to travel out of the country so we can give you any necessary special recommendations. The best time to enjoy a trip is during the middle months of pregnancy, when most women are past the morning sickness stage but labor is still a few months away. Most airlines generally do not allow travel after 36 weeks and some require a medical provider’s note for travel at any time during pregnancy. Metal detectors at security checkpoints are safe.

While you are traveling be sure to stay well hydrated and allow for plenty of stops to walk around or use the bathroom. On an airplane, get up and walk up and down the aisle as much as you can. Flex your feet, stretch your calf muscles, rotate your ankles, and wiggle your toes while you are in your seat to stimulate your circulation.

If you are traveling by car, wear your seatbelt and shoulder harness. Risks to the mother and her baby who are not protected by the seatbelt during an accident are usually far more serious than those caused by a seatbelt—studies show that babies almost always recover from seat belt pressure sustained during an accident.

Good to Know

  • You can continue to color and perm your hair while you are pregnant.
  • It is okay to paint with latex paints while you are pregnant if you work in a well-ventilated room and leave the area if you don’t feel well while you are working.