Safety Concerns During Pregnancy

Institutes & Services > Women's Services

Listed below are general suggestions to follow during your pregnancy. Always check with your physician or midwife for specific instructions regarding your health.

Travel

Unless otherwise instructed by your physician, travel usually is allowed during pregnancy. Plan ahead and consider the following comfort measures.

  • Wear comfortable clothing that doesn’t bind.
  • Take along light snacks and a water bottle.
  • If you are driving a great distance, stop every hour or two along your route (especially if you are near the end of your pregnancy) to stretch and go to the bathroom.
  • Sit as far back from the steering wheel as possible.
  • Let others do the driving as much as possible during the last few months of pregnancy. Avoid unnecessary trips. When you ride in the car, sit in the back seat,
    which usually is a much safer place to ride. Use a lap/shoulder belt.*
  • If you are in a crash, even a minor one, get checked at a hospital emergency room. Your unborn baby could be seriously injured even if you do not seem to be
    hurt.
  • If you are going away for a long time, call your physician for recommendations of another physician at that location in case medical care would be necessary. If possible, avoid traveling long distances the last three months of your pregnancy. If you must travel, ask your physician for consent and ask for a copy of your prenatal record.
  • If foreign travel is planned, check with your physician to make sure it is safe at the stage of pregnancy you are in, and to receive specific advice.

*Whenever you travel by car, always wear your seat belt. Correct positioning of the lap/shoulder belt is essential. Place the lap portion under your abdomen and across your upper thighs. The shoulder strap should fit diagonally between your breasts. Your seat belt should be snug, yet comfortable. Never ride with only your lap belt on and not the shoulder belt because you still could be seriously injured in a car accident.

Hot tubs, Whirlpools and Saunas

Sitting in hot water or a sauna for a long time may cause your internal body temperature to increase significantly (hyperthermia). Especially during the first
few months of pregnancy, this can be dangerous for the fetus. To be on the safe side, avoid overheating and check with your physician before using hot tubs, whirlpools or saunas.

Litter Boxes

Cats’ bowel movements may contain a parasite that can cause a serious blood infection, which can lead to birth defects for your baby. Although the chance of becoming infected is small, it is best to be cautious. Let someone else clean the litter box or use rubber gloves if you must do it yourself. Also, be careful when gardening in an area where your cat may have had a bowel movement.

Painting

If you must be involved in painting, wallpapering, or stripping or refinishing furniture during pregnancy, use caution. Work in a large, well-ventilated area. Avoid long
exposure to fumes, especially in the first three months of your pregnancy. Wear gloves and protective clothing and don’t eat or drink in the area.

House Cleaning

Using household cleaning products is not likely to harm your baby. However, it is a good idea to avoid oven cleaners and dry cleaning products during your pregnancy. Never combine cleaning fluids containing chlorine bleach and ammonia, since this combination produces toxic fumes.

Do not climb ladders during your pregnancy, because a fall can cause serious injury to your baby. Ask for help reaching high places. If you must use a step stool or ladder, keep in mind that your center of gravity changes during pregnancy and you can easily lose your balance.

Medication

Check with your physician before taking any medication. Even common over-the-counter preparations such as cold treatments, aspirin and pain relievers can harm your baby.

Warning Signs

Any of the symptoms listed below could indicate a health problem. Please contact your physician or midwife immediately and report any additional symptoms you are experiencing.
Warning signs include:

  • Bright red vaginal bleeding – any amount
  • Persistent abdominal pain, especially with nausea and vomiting
  • Fever above 100 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Severe, persistent nausea with or without vomiting
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • A visual disturbance – blurring, spots or double vision
  • A sudden swelling or puffiness of face, hands or feet
  • Pain or burning when urinating
  • Sudden increase in thirst with little or no urination for a day
  • Foul smelling or irritating vaginal discharge
  • A decrease or change in fetal movement during a 12- to 24-hour period
  • A fall, accident or injury, even when the abdomen is not involved
  • Headaches not relieved by Tylenol
  • Visual changes (i.e. spots in your field of vision or “floaters” that do not go away)

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