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Q & A

When you're pregnant, all sorts of ques­tions seem to pop up -things that, until now, probably never crossed your mind. Is it OK to dye your hair? What about sitting in a hot tub? Can I have sex during pregnancy? Here are some an­swers to commonly asked questions :

It's easy to panic if you fall during pregnancy, but your body is designed to protect your developing baby. An injury would have to be severe enough to seriously hurt you before it would directly harm your baby. The walls of your uterus are thick, strong muscles that help keep your baby safe. The amniotic fluid also serves as a cushion. In addition, during the early weeks of pregnancy, the uterus is tucked behind the pelvic bone, so there's even more protection.

When you use hair dye, a small amount of the dye may penetrate your skin. Generally, however, the dye isn't thought to pose harm to a developing baby. Few studies have examined women's use of hair dye before and during pregnancy. A 2005 study suggested a possible association between hair dye used during pregnancy and certain childhood cancers, but other studies haven't reached the same conclusion. Most researchers say it's unlikely that use of hair products before or during pregnancy increases the risk of childhood brain tumors.

It may sur­prise you, but having an X-ray during pregnancy is generally considered safe. In most cases, the benefits of the X-ray outweigh the potential risks. When you have an abdominal X-ray during pregnancy, your developing baby is exposed to radiation. If the radiation causes changes in your baby's rapidly growing cells, it's possible that your baby could be at a slightly higher risk of birth defects or illnesses, such as leukemia, later in life.

Devices such as these use a form of electromagnetic energy called radio frequency energy, which consists of waves of electric and magnetic energy moving through space. The radiation that comes from these devices is different from and much less than the radiation that comes from X-rays.

Although most women can safely have sex throughout pregnancy, sometimes it's best to be cautious. Your health care provider may recommend avoiding sex if:

  • You're at risk of preterm labor
  • You have unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • You're leaking amniotic fluid
  • Your cervix begins to open prematurely (cervical incompetence)
  • Your placenta partly or completely covers your cervical opening (placenta previa)

As long as you're comfortable, most sexual positions are OK during pregnancy. As your pregnancy progresses, experiment to find what works best. Rather than lying on your back, you might want to lie next to your partner sideways or position yourself on top of your partner or in front of your partner.





Your developing baby is pro­tected by the amniotic fluid in your uterus, as well as the mucous plug that blocks the cervix throughout most of your pregnancy. Sexual activity won't affect your baby.



Many couples worry that sex during pregnancy will cause a miscarriage, especially in the first trimester. But sex isn't a concern. Early miscarriages are usually related to chromosomal abnor­malities or other problems in the developing baby, not to anything you do or don't do.






These scanners work in two ways. One type uses nonionizing electromagnetic radiation (millimeter waves), a form of energy similar to that used in radar im­ages and radio signals. This type of radia­tion, which has been used for a century, has no known health effects. The other type of scanner uses "back scatter" ionizing radiation, which exposes an individual to a very weak X-ray signal. The radiation emitted from the scanner is weak enough that the X-ray doesn't penetrate the body.

DEET, the active ingredient in many common insect repellents, is generally safe as long as you follow the manufacturer's instructions. DEET provides effective protection against mosquito- and tick-transmitted diseases, such as West Nile virus and Lyme disease. The benefits of avoiding these illnesses generally exceed the risks of the small amount of DEET that might enter your bloodstream through your skin.

Regular use of nor­mal household cleaners hasn't been shown to harm a developing baby. Still, it's a good idea to stay away from oven cleaners that emit strong fumes in a contained space. And, pregnant or not, don't mix chemicals such as ammonia and bleach because the combination can produce toxic fumes.

In general, avoid exposme to oil­ based paints, lead and mercury, all of which may be found in old paints that you may be stripping from surfaces. Also avoid other substances that have sol­vents, such as paint removers. Even if you're just painting a small room or piece of baby furnitme, be careful.

Toxoplasmo­sis is an infection that can threaten the health of an unborn child. It's caused by a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. The parasite multiplies in the intestine of cats and is shed in cat feces, mainly into litter boxes and garden soil. You can get the parasite by handling cat litter or soil where there are cat feces. You can also get the parasite from eating undercooked meat (such as rare beef) from animals in­fected with the parasite.

Dental health during pregnancy isn't a glamorous topic, but it's an important one. Misconceptions and misinformation about dental health during pregnancy are common and often these issues aren't discussed at prenatal appointments. Common dental health problems during pregnancy include the following

Tooth decay : During pregnancy, in­ creased acidity in the mouth increases the risk of tooth decay. Vonuting during pregnancy can aggravate the problem by exposing the teeth to more gastric acid.