5 Do’s and Don'ts of Life During Pregnancy
Your body’s physiology isn’t the only thing changing during pregnancy—your lifestyle is too. In the nine months leading up to your newborn’s arrival, you’ll have to make some lifestyle changes. We know it can feel daunting, so we spoke with experts from Abington – Jefferson Health to clarify some common questions about the rules of life while pregnant. Here are five do’s and don’ts of pregnancy.
1. DON’T be alarmed if you see an increase in vaginal discharge.
“In pregnancy, there is a natural increase in vaginal discharge, called leukorrhea, that is typically white, clear, odorless and painless. Some people feel alarmed when they see this and automatically assume something is wrong, but there isn’t. This is normal,” says Melissa Peard, CNM, a midwife at Abington – Jefferson Health.
If you notice your discharge has changed in color, texture or smell, it could indicate a vaginal infection, especially if accompanied by itching or irritation, painful urination or pain during intercourse. If you have any of these symptoms or are prone to chronic yeast infections, be sure to let your healthcare team know. It is always better to be evaluated in case you need a prescribed treatment—and taking medication for vaginitis during pregnancy is safe.
2. DON’T fear bathing or swimming while pregnant.
A common concern for pregnant women is whether or not it is safe to shower, bathe or swim. The biggest determining factor for safety, while submerged in water, is your body temperature.
“Showering is perfectly safe. Similarly, bathing in a warm bath is fine, as long as you leave your chest exposed to regulate your body temperature. It’s best to stay away from hot tubs during your pregnancy, as your core body temperature could raise to a point that can harm the fetus,” says Katie H. Garrelts, MD, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Abington – Jefferson Health.
Swimming in a pool is safe during pregnancy, as long as the water is not too hot. Not only is swimming safe, but it’s also a recommended form of low-impact cardiovascular exercise.
3. DO talk with your OB/GYN to decide if genetic testing is right for you.
Genetic screening is now commonplace in the pre-partum journey. A two-fold approach, genetic testing is conducted on both the patient and the fetus to identify genetic-specific diseases—like cystic fibrosis and spinal muscular atrophy—or sex chromosome abnormalities—like Down syndrome and Turner syndrome.
“In genetic screening, we use a noninvasive perinatal test (NIPT). While this test can tell us the sex of the baby, it’s not the reason we do this screening. It’s so we can gather all the information we need to care for your pregnancy properly,” says Alicia A. Shields, DO, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Abington – Jefferson Health.
With genetic testing, you can have more information or undergo more tests and monitoring to see if your care plan needs to change.
4. DO have sex during your pregnancy (when you’re ready).
Despite popular beliefs, having intercourse during pregnancy is safe for most couples.
“During pregnancy, there is more blood supplied to the cervix and the vagina, so you may experience some spotting or light bleeding after penetrative intercourse. But for most couples, it is safe to have intercourse during pregnancy,” says Carolyn A. Piccone, MD, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Abington – Jefferson Health. “You may find as you get farther along, and as your belly becomes bigger, some positions may become more or less comfortable. That is something you can figure out as time goes on, but intercourse itself is safe.”
Know that there are some conditions where you must abstain from penetrative vaginal intercourse, such as heavy vaginal bleeding that can’t be explained, preterm labor, preterm contractions, pain and certain placental problems.
5. DON’T consume alcohol, smoke, vape or take non-prescription or illegal drugs.
These behaviors have been linked to a wide range of problems for baby including developmental delays, behavior problems, low birth weight and more, depending on the substance. For detailed information, please visit Preparing for Pregnancy - Alcohol, Smoking and Drug Use.
Our more than 70 Obstetrics & Gynecology clinicians are available at Abington – Jefferson Health to guide you and answer your questions. For more information about life during pregnancy, visit jeffersonhealthmaternity.com.