Pregnancy is an exciting time, but it also comes with many questions. It's natural to feel unsure or extra cautious about what is and is not safe for you and your baby while pregnant. Below are some general guidelines and the most common questions we receive from our patients.

General guidelines

Your doctor may encourage you to:

  • Get plenty of fresh air
  • Remove strong odors from your surroundings
  • Rise slowly from bed; give yourself a few minutes to adjust
  • Wear non-restrictive clothing
  • Rest
  • Use a heating pad or hot water bottle to soothe sore abdominal muscles from vomiting

When can I schedule my first prenatal visit?

Our providers at Midtown OB/GYN are here to serve women in the greater Denver area who are pregnant and in need of an OB/GYN. We would like to see you for your first prenatal visit around the seventh or eighth week of pregnancy, calculated from the first day of your last menstrual period (or five to six weeks since conception).

Please call sooner if you have a known history of ectopic pregnancy.

How do I schedule childbirth classes?

Classes are held at Rose Medical Center. You can find a list of classes online.

When do I call or come in for labor?

This applies only to women who are 36 weeks or more:

Your contractions should be five minutes apart or less (from the start of one to the beginning of the next one), about one minute long, and present for at least one hour. An easy way to remember when to call for labor is to remember 5-1-1. Your contractions should be strong enough that you must stop what you are doing, including talking and breathing through them.

If you feel you could sleep through your contractions, you are unlikely to be in labor. If you have a history of rapid labor, please discuss this with your doctor at your prenatal visit.

When your membranes rupture (water breaks), the fluid will gush or leak. You will not be able to control it. Usually, the fluid will run down your leg if you do not have a pad on. Even if you are not having contractions, you should still call the office if your water breaks. If you are unsure if your water is broken, don't hesitate to contact us.

If the baby is not moving as much as they usually move:

  • Eat or drink something.
  • Lay down on your side.
  • Count the baby's movements. Call the office if you do not count 10 actions within one hour.

If you are bleeding abnormally:

  • Call the office if you are bleeding as heavily as a period.
  • It is not uncommon to spot or bleed after an exam or at the start of labor.
  • It is not uncommon to see a large strand of bloody mucous, also known as your mucous plug. You do not need to worry about the timing of your mucous plug and can wait to call until your labor signs meet the above criteria.

You can call our office at (303) 321-2166, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, when you go into labor. You will automatically be forwarded to our answering service if it is after-hours or during the weekend. They will contact the doctor on call, who will promptly return your call.

Please note, if you have caller I.D. and do not accept blocked calls, you will need to remove the call block by dialing *87 for the doctor to call you.

How can I treat nausea and vomiting in pregnancy?

Nausea can be a typical symptom in pregnancy. It is often related to the increases in pregnancy hormones (HCG). You and your baby need to receive nutrition, and the following suggestions may help. Most nausea decreases considerably after the first trimester (12 weeks).

What can I eat and drink? And what should I avoid?

Your diet may require some adjustment while you are pregnant. Talk with your doctor about what is necessary for you. The following are commonly recommended:

  • Eat small frequent meals.
  • Place crackers or toast next to your bedside and nibble before getting up.
  • Drink only small amounts of fluids with meals as your stomach fills quickly. Try sipping most of your fluids between meals.
  • Low-fat foods are easier to digest (low-fat milk, yogurt, lean meat, broiled or canned fish, poultry without skin, apple sauce).
  • Eat carbohydrates that are easy to digest (rice, pasta, potatoes, cereals, crackers and ginger snaps).
  • Avoid highly seasoned food.
  • Avoid foods that give you gas (cabbage, broccoli, onions, buttermilk, pinto or pork beans).
  • Eat protein snacks before going to bed.
  • Drink water, peppermint tea, ginger tea and ginger ale.
  • Guard against dehydration.

Other common dietary questions

What kinds of fish do I need to avoid?

All fish should be thoroughly cooked to avoid bacteria that can harm your pregnancy. Some fish are high in mercury and should be eliminated from your diet, including shark, swordfish, mackerel and tilefish. Lower-mercury fish is safe to eat in moderation; eat up to 12 ounces of fish or shellfish per week, equivalent to two servings. Lower-mercury fish include shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock and catfish. Canned white tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna; therefore, please limit yourself to one six-ounce serving per week if you choose white tuna.

What is listeria? What kind of cheese can I eat?

Listeria is a food-borne illness that can harm you and your pregnancy. It is a rare infection, but you can remove certain foods from your diet to reduce your risk of exposure to this bacteria. Do not eat unpasteurized dairy products. Do not eat soft cheese such as feta, queso blanco, brie, camembert, or blue cheese unless the label states it has been pasteurized or made with pasteurized milk. This same bacteria is found in deli prepared salads (for example, pre-made egg salad), deli meats, bologna and hot dogs. Heating foods to a steaming temperature kills this bacteria and makes the food safe to eat.

Is caffeine safe in pregnancy?

Generally, one to two servings of caffeine per day is safe during pregnancy. You may choose to switch to decaffeinated products at this time if you wish.

Are artificial sweeteners safe?

  • There are no known problems with artificial sweeteners used in pregnancy. However, low-sugar naturally flavored foods are ideal.

What medications are safe to use?

Do not take any anti-nausea medicines without consulting your healthcare provider. You may want to avoid taking your prenatal vitamin for a couple of days. Some women are sensitive to iron and concentrated vitamins. You may also take half of your prenatal tablet at bedtime and the other half at lunchtime. Other helpful over the counter supplements include:

  • Vitamin B6, 75 mg (either 25mg three times a day or 75mg once a day)
  • Antacids, twice daily
  • Medication relieving symptoms of allergy, hay fever or the common cold, half tablet per day
  • Acupressure bands or copper wrist bands

If, despite the above suggestions, you are still unable to tolerate food or liquids, please call the office to speak with our nurse or to make an appointment to see your physician.

What medications are safe in pregnancy and while breastfeeding?

There are many over-the-counter medications you can safely take while pregnant and breastfeeding. They can be taken as directed on the bottle or label. Generic equivalents of the listed medications are also safe. If any of the problems listed below persist for more than one week, please call your personal physician.

  • Common cold, cough, head congestion
    • Cough syrup and medicine for relief, such as Robitussin
    • Acetaminophen for minor aches and pains, such as Tylenol
    • Antihistamine, decongestant and cold medicine, such as Actifed
    • Sore throat or throat irritation medicine, such as Chloraseptic
    • Head cold and sinus congestion relief, such as Sudafed
    • Cold and flu medicine, such as Mucinex
    • Topical ointments to help relieve aches and coughs, such as Vicks
    • Nasal sprays and throat lozenges
  • Allergies
    • Allergy symptom and hive relief, such as Claritin
    • Allergy and itch relief medicine, such as Benadryl
    • Eye allergy relief eye drops, such as Visine or Clear Eyes
  • Stool softeners
    • Docusate sodium, such as Colace or Metamucil
    • Magnesium hydroxide (laxative), such as Milk of Magnesia
    • Bulk-forming fiber therapy, such as FiberCon
  • Hemorrhoids
    • Medicated cooling pads
    • Topical ointments, creams or suppositories, like Preparation H or Anusol
  • Diarrhea
    • Anti-diarrhea medication, such as Immodium
  • Skin rashes
    • Acne medications or products
    • Aloe vera gel
    • Antibiotic neomycin, such as Neosporin
    • Lotions
    • Topical ointments
    • Treatment for head lice, such as Lanolin Nix
  • Yeast infections
    • Anti-fungal medication, such as Monistat®

What about antibiotics prescribed by my dentist or my other doctors?

Many antibiotics are safe to use in pregnancy. We will provide you with a list. If another doctor prescribes you something on that list, please call us.

Questions about travel, exercise, self-care and painting

Can I travel or fly?

It is safe to travel during pregnancy, assuming you have no complications. If traveling by car, please wear your seat belt, periodically stop to stretch, empty your bladder, and hydrate yourself.

After 35 weeks, our physicians do not recommend traveling long distances since you can deliver at any time. However, if you must travel after 35 weeks, please schedule an appointment to see the doctor before you leave. This does not mean complications could not arise while out of town. Most airlines require a letter from your doctor stating that it is safe for you to travel. Please check with the airline for their specific requirements.

Can I continue to exercise? What type of exercise is recommended?

We encourage moderate exercise during and after pregnancy. If you are an avid exerciser, you can often maintain most of your current routine. Listen to your body, and decrease your level and amount of exercise as needed.

If you do not normally exercise, this is not the time to start training for your first triathlon! However, if you are in good health, we encourage you to start walking or swimming for at least 30 minutes a day, most days of the week. If you feel dizzy, exhausted or faint, please stop exercising and rest.

High contact sports and sports with an increased risk of falling are not recommended. Pregnancy yoga is safe and recommended; be sure you have a pillow tucked under your right hip to prevent laying flat on your back.

If you have medical problems (heart disease, lung disease, obesity, extreme sedentary lifestyle) or pregnancy complications (history of or high risk for preterm labor, placenta previa, incompetent cervix), please speak to your doctor before exercising.

Can I ski? Snowboard? Scuba dive?

Boating and swimming are fine, but we recommend against water sports such as water skiing, jet skiing, kneeboarding, etc. You may snorkel but may not go scuba diving during pregnancy. You may alpine/snow ski, depending on your level of expertise.

If you are a beginner, it is not recommended. If you are an intermediate to advanced skier, please do so with extreme caution – watching out for other skiers. We do not recommend skiing after your 18th week. Cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing are safe during pregnancy.

Are dental exams or procedures safe?

It is safe to have a dental cleaning done during pregnancy. You may notice bleeding gums more at this time. Local anesthetic with or without epinephrine may be used for fillings. You may have dental X-rays if necessary, but your abdomen should be shielded with a lead apron. If not required, wait until after your pregnancy to have X-rays done.

Can I get my hair and nails done during pregnancy?

It is safe for you to give or receive hair and nail treatments. Self-tanning lotions are also safe to use during pregnancy.

Is vaginal discharge normal in pregnancy?

You may notice an increase in vaginal discharge at this time due to pregnancy hormones. Personal hygiene is usually all that is required. A panty liner may help absorb moisture and keep the area free from irritation. Vaginal douching is not recommended during pregnancy. If itching, burning or odor is noticed, please call our office.

Can I take baths or warm showers?

It is perfectly fine to take a warm bath or shower, but you should not use a hot tub, sauna or whirlpool. It is also safe to use an electric blanket or heated waterbed. These things raise your core temperature, which is not good for the baby.

Is painting safe?

Painting is safe as long as the room is well ventilated. When painting, it is best to use a water base rather than an oil base. If nausea, light-headedness, headache, or dizziness occurs, stop and get fresh air. Do not sleep in a freshly painted room for at least 24 hours.