Can pregnant women eat tuna? What about spray tans? Is it safe to do an x-ray? Pregnant moms often have lots of questions about what they can and can’t do during pregnancy. If you’ve stayed awake at night, wondering if you could satisfy your craving for sushi without injuring your little one, this article is for you! Read on for answers to some of the most common pregnancy questions & answers.
Pregnancy Questions & Answers: Food
Can Pregnant Women Eat California Rolls?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) warns against eating any kind of uncooked seafood, meat, or eggs during pregnancy. Cooked sushi is safe to eat while pregnant, but uncooked sushi is not. California Rolls are typically a combination of cucumber, avocado, and cooked imitation crab meat. So ladies, if it’s well-cooked, go for it! If not, it’s best to wait until baby is born to enjoy them (1).
Can Pregnant Women Eat Tuna?
Fish are a beneficial part of a pregnancy diet because they provide omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids may be very important to the development of your fetus’s brain, both before and after birth. ACOG recommends that women eat at least two servings of fish or shellfish per week before getting pregnant, during pregnancy, and even when breastfeeding (1).
Nevertheless, it is important to be cautious of what type of fish you eat. Certain kinds of fish have dangerous levels of mercury, a metal that has been linked to birth defects. You can safely eat (12):
- Up to 12 ounces per week of anchovies, catfish, clams, cod, crab, founder, herring, oysters, polluck, salmon, sardines, scallops, shrimp, sole, tilapia, and trout
- Up to 6 ounces per week of halibut, snapper, lobster, tuna, and mahi-mahi
- Do not eat shark, tilefish, king mackerel, swordfish, grouper, marlin, and orange roughy
Can Pregnant Women Drink Wine?
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that there is no known safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy (13, 4). Further, “there is also no safe time during pregnancy to drink. All types of alcohol are equally harmful, including all wines and beer.”
Drinking during pregnancy can cause very serious birth defects as well as behavioral and intellectual disorders, known as alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). Alcohol can also cause miscarriage and stillbirth. Medically, it’s best to forego the wine until after baby is born.
Can Pregnant Women Eat Honey?
Yes, pregnant women can eat honey. Honey can sometimes contain spores that may lead to the development of botulism. An adult’s immune system is strong and unaffected by the spores.
On the other hand, your baby, once born, can not eat honey. Babies have immature immune systems. If a baby accidentally ingests any of these botulism spores, his immune system is unable to stop the spores from growing, and botulism poisoning can result. Fortunately, during pregnancy, baby is unaffected by any spores that mom might eat. So the bottom line is, yes, it is safe for you to eat honey while pregnant (3).
Pregnancy Questions & Answers – Activities
Can Pregnant Women Fly?
Air-travel while pregnant is safe. However, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises women who have risk factors for premature labor to postpone travel from 32 weeks through birth (2) to avoid the possibility of giving birth on an airplane.
Can Pregnant Women Go in Hot Tubs?
Hot tubs are a hot topic (pun intended 😉 ). Studies show that elevated temperatures (greater than 101ºF) in pregnancy are associated with an increased risk of birth defects and miscarriages. This is more common early in pregnancy and if baby is exposed to elevated temperatures for prolonged periods of time.
ACOG does not recommend using hot tubs during pregnancy (11). However, if you do decide to take a dip, follow these steps to decrease risk to baby (12):
- Ensure that your body temperature never reaches above 102ºF
- Turn the temperature on the hot tub to 99ºF of less
- Limit use to 10 minutes or less
- Keep your shoulders and arms out of the water
Can Pregnant Women Take Baths?
Yes, pregnant women can take baths, assuming the water is under 99-100°F. As with hot tubs, you don’t want to risk overheating the baby. Without using a thermometer, how do you know your water isn’t too hot? Stick your elbow into the bath before entering the water. If it’s comfortable to the touch and if you’re not sweating from the heat, the water is probably a safe temperature (3).
Can Pregnant Women Donate Blood?
According to the American Red Cross, pregnant women aren’t eligible to donate blood, and should wait until at least six weeks after birth to donate (6).
Can Pregnant Women Be Around Cats?
When cats are allowed to roam outside, they can sometimes pick up and transmit diseases to their owners. For example, there is at least one disease, Toxoplasmosis, that is transmitted fecally (through the cat’s poop), and might infect you while you clean the cat’s litter box (3). This disease can cause fetal death, preterm labor, and serious birth defects like deafness and blindness.
Keeping these facts in mind, if you own a cat, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has some good advice: Keep your cat indoors during pregnancy to avoid the possibility of it picking up any unwanted germs (7). Also, always wash your hands well after touching your feline friend and especially after cleaning its litter box. Or, better yet, ask someone else to do the dirty work–score one for pregnant mommy (3)!
Can Pregnant Women Wear Heels?
Of course there are always possibilities, pregnant or not, that wearing high-heels can lead to foot, knee, or back pain. But as long as you’re aware of these risks, wearing heels is safe during pregnancy. Just be extra careful, as usual, not to fall because of your extra weight and altered balance(3).
Can Pregnant Women Go Bowling?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) advises against any activities during pregnancy that put you at risk of getting hit in the abdomen, falling, or becoming overheated (9). While bowling doesn’t put you at risk of abdominal trauma or overheating, it is definitely possible for you to fall while bowling! If you do choose to bowl, be sure to wear the right shoes, and take extra care that your added weight doesn’t cause you to topple over or strain any muscles.
Can Pregnant Women Get Waxed?
Because wax doesn’t contain any chemicals or drugs, waxing on any part of the body is safe during pregnancy (3).
Pregnancy Questions & Answers – Environmental Risks
Can Pregnant Women Dye Their Hair?
There’s no conclusive evidence on this, but the limited research that’s been done shows little to no risk. This means it’s up to you to choose what you feel is safe for you and your baby. If you do choose to dye your hair during pregnancy, it’s best to wait until after your first trimester to do so, and limit your exposure to the treatment chemicals used (3).
Can Pregnant Women Get Spray Tans?
Spray tans are indeed safe during pregnancy—more safe, it has been found, than tanning beds (3). However, most spray tans don’t actually contain sunscreen, so make sure you apply sunscreen before heading outside to show off that tan (5).
Can Pregnant Women Get Their Nails Done or Get Pedicures?
There are currently no studies that show whether or not pedicures are safe during pregnancy, though the idea of exposure to the fumes at nail salons is worrying to many pregnant moms. If you do go to a nail salon, it’s a good idea to wait until after your first trimester to do so (3).
Can Pregnant Women Be Around Paint?
The American Pregnancy Association recommends avoiding oil-based paints, lead paints, and paints that contain mercury or latex. There are no studies showing whether household painting is dangerous during pregnancy. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to limit your exposure to any fumes by wearing long clothing and making sure the area is well-ventilated (8).
On a side note, houses built before 1978 frequently had lead added to the paint to make the finish more durable. If your home was built before that time, there’s a possibility that lead paint may still remain on doors or window trim. Lead is dangerous and can cause brain and organ damage to your baby. Consult a professional to have old pain repainted or removed.
Can Pregnant Women Do X-Rays?
There are lots of mixed opinions on this question. According to the American Pregnancy Association, most x-rays don’t expose your baby to radiation, and no single x-ray will contain enough radiation to hurt your little one. That being said, x-rays taken of the torso area, such as the abdomen and stomach, expose baby to greater radiation. The American Pregnancy Association suggests that, because studies about this question are so conflicting, pregnant women should only get x-rays when the benefits of doing so are greater than the risks (10).
Pregnancy Questions & Answers Cheat-Sheet:
General Pregnancy Dos:
- Taking baths
- Eating tuna
- Eating honey
- Getting spray tans
- Getting waxed
General Pregnancy Dont’s:
- Eating uncooked California Rolls (or any uncooked meat, egg, or fish) Drinking wine
- Donating blood
- Being around most paints
It’s up to you:
- Hair dying
- Going in hot tubs
- Getting your nails done or getting a pedicure
- Being around cats
- Going bowling
- Wearing heels
- Doing x-rays
1. Nutrition during pregnancy. (February 2018). Retrieved from https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Nutrition-During-Pregnancy
2. Pregnancy and travel. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/traveling-during-pregnancy/
3. Aron, E. A. (2006) Pregnancy dos & don’ts: the smart woman’s pocket companion for a safe and sound pregnancy. New York: Stonesong Press.
4. General information on fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/fasd/data.html
5. Tanning products. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/radiation-emitting-products/tanning/tanning-products#top
6. Eligibility criteria: alphabetical. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/how-to-donate/eligibility-requirements/eligibility-criteria-alphabetical.html
7. Cats and babies. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/cats-and-babies
8. Paint and pregnancy: safety, precautions, and recommendations. (n.d.) Retreived from https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/paint-and-pregnancy/
9. Exercise during pregnancy. (2019, July). Retrieved from https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Exercise-During-Pregnancy
10. X-rays during pregnancy. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/x-rays-during-pregnancy/
11. Planning Your Pregnancy and Birth Third Ed. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, CH. 5.