Do-s and Don-ts: Your Pregnancy Questions, Answered

Do's and Don'ts: Your Pregnancy Questions, Answered

Have you ever been told that swimming while pregnant could drown your baby? Or that having sex while expecting, will harm the little one? If not, then brace yourself, because now that you are pregnant, you will be surrounded by dozens of people who are just bursting to share their -medical advice’ (or old wives tales) with you.

How do you know what is true and what is just plain ridiculous? Here is a brief pregnancy Q and A, addressing your beauty, exercise and nutrition questions, as answered by pregnancy medical experts. However, remember that it’s always best to consult with your gynae when unsure.



Question: Can I detox while I am pregnant?

Answer: Not advisable.

A detox programme may sound perfect for pregnant moms. After all, detoxing helps you get rid of toxins and helps create a healthy environment for your growing baby, right? Well, perhaps not. A similar question was answered on by Dr Janet Star Hull, an expert on alternative health and nutrition. According to Hull, beginning a detox programme during pregnancy is not recommended.

-Toxins can penetrate through the placenta and can circulate throughout the bloodstreams of both you and baby, explained Dr Hull.

-So for now, leave well-enough alone and focus on detoxing during breastfeeding. After six weeks or so when the baby is getting adjusted to life, you can introduce some detox vitamins in your foods that will cleanse both you and the baby (through the breast milk). But for now, do not “stir up” the toxins if they are not actively metabolized in your system. This will only expose the fetus to toxic metals unnecessarily. Play it safe, and detox later.


Question: Can I dye my hair during pregnancy?

Answer: Preferably not.

There are those lucky expectant moms, who radiate beauty without even trying. Their hair is thick and glossy, while their skin glows and is perfectly hydrated. These lucky few even manage to maintain their figure throughout the entire pregnancy. But for most preggo moms, this is far from the truth. They experience breakouts, and a round figure for the most part of their pregnancy.

If your hair is not getting thicker, but instead looks dull and lifeless, you may be considering dying it. But can the chemicals harm your baby?

There seems to be conflicting opinions on this one. Some medical experts say that there is no problem with hair dyes and that they do not pose any significant risk for your unborn baby ( However, others argue that full process colouring should be avoided when pregnant, especially in the first 12 weeks ( It is said that after 12 weeks of pregnancy, high-lighting should be fine, but it is advisable to first check with your OBGYN.


Question: Can I have a face peel while I am pregnant?

Answer: Rather wait.

Hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy may cause unsightly breakouts and skin discoloration. It may be tempting to want to address these issues with a face peel.

Experts admit that they are uncertain if this is advisable or not. That is why they advise that you wait until after the birth, before opting to undergo a face peel.

Plastic Surgeon, Samir Shureih stated that, during pregnancy there are many hormonal changes that can also affect the skin pigmentation.

-Because of that, it is probably safer if you stopped the treatments until after delivery and breast feeding, he said.

Dermotological Surgeon, David Hansen, agreed that waiting until after the pregnancy would be a good idea.

-TCA Peels have a small risk of post inflammatory hyperpigmentation, but the risk goes way up during pregnancy, since hormones influence the dark resulting skin, he said.

-Your skin will get darker during pregnancy anyway and the TCA peels will accentuate the darkness and you will end up with a very blotchy skin colour. I would wait until after the pregnancy to continue the peels.



Question: Can I still exercise during pregnancy?

Answer: Yes.

There is a new life growing inside of you and your natural response is to treat baby like a fragile being. However, this does not mean that you need to stop exercising.

According to Durban based Biokineticist, Schalk van der Merwe, exercise during pregnancy is, in fact, essential.

-You need to exercise to maintain good circulation, monitor weight gain and make sure you have enough muscle mass.

However, van der Merwe warns that it is important to consider your level of activity prior to the pregnancy, before embarking on an exercise regime.

-The fitter you are before you fall pregnant, the better your chances are of doing exercises deep into your pregnancy, states van der Merwe.

-If you are not fit, it is important to start exercising at very low intensities, purely because your body needs to adjust to the pregnancy and the exercise.

Van der Merwe added that it is always important to first consult your gynae before starting any exercise programme.


Question: What types of exercise can I do during pregnancy?

Answer: It varies.

According to van der Merwe, cardio vascular exercise is most important. This includes activities such as walking, stationary cycling and swimming.

-Resistance exercise is also important because you need to maintain good strength, he says.

-Pilates/Yoga is especially beneficial because this focuses on maintaining good levels of core stability and flexibility.


Question: When should you not exercise during pregnancy?

Answer: If your doctor says so.

We have established that exercise during pregnancy is a good thing. But under what circumstances should you not participate in physical activities?

Van der Merwe cautions that, if your doctor has specifically stipulated that you should not do any exercise, then his word is law.

He adds that you should not exercise if you are feeling dizzy, have fluctuating blood pressure, flu-like symptoms and also under extreme temperatures (too hot or too cold).

Not listening to your body and pushing yourself when you are not feeling well may harm you and your unborn baby. So take care and ALWAYS listen to your doctor and your body.



Question: What can I eat during pregnancy?

Answer: Pay attention to the food pyramid.

Diet is probably the most important component of a healthy pregnancy. It is important that you pay special attention on eating the right foods. The big question though, is what exactly should you be eating during pregnancy?

The best thing you can do is go and see a nutritionist who will draw up an eating plan specifically for your needs.

However, as a general guideline, it is a good idea to follow a well-balanced diet that contains a little bit of everything. This includes dairy products, fruit, vegetables, fish, meat, eggs, unsaturated fat and complex carbohydrates.


Question: What should I avoid during pregnancy?

Answer: Unhealthy food choices and BPA.

In her article -Foods to Avoid When You’re Pregnant’, which was published on WedMD, Nutrition Consultant Elizabeth M. Ward says that there are several foods that you should avoid during pregnancy. ·        

  • Raw or Undercooked Food of Animal Origin: Raw meat like biltong should be avoided while pregnant. This is because it is raw and also because it hangs in the bilton shops whilst flies land on it and lay their eggs and poop on it.These types of food may contain an array of bacteria, viruses, and parasites.   
  • Hot Dogs, Luncheon Meats, and Unpasteurized Dairy Foods: These foods are prone to Listeria monocytogenes, a bacteria that causes listeriosis, which may result in miscarriage, stillbirth, or other serious health problems.   ·        
  • Certain Seafood and Fish: Large fish — such as swordfish, shark, tilefish, and king mackerel — harbor higher concentrations of mercury, compared to other fish. Mercury is a byproduct of coal-burning plants that interferes with the normal development of a growing child’s brain and nervous system. Also, fish caught in rivers, lakes, ponds, and streams may also contain industrial pollutants that cause havoc with a developing nervous system.  
  • Raw Vegetable Sprouts: The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) advises everyone, regardless of pregnancy, not to eat raw sprouts — including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts. The reason being that bacteria can get into sprout seeds and are “nearly impossible” to wash out, states the FDA’s web site. The FDA recommends that pregnant women request that raw sprouts not be added to their food.  
  • Certain type of cheeses: Some may be prone to bacteria growth, which can be harmful to your unborn baby. Avoid Roquefort, Brie, Blue Wensleydale, Danish Blue, Pont L’Eveque , Chaumes, Pyramide, Cambozola, Torta del Cesar, Camembert, Chèvre, Taleggio, Vacherin-Fribourgeois, Bergader, Bleu d’Auvergne,Shropshire Blue, Dolcelatte, Gorgonzola, Stilton and Chabichou.
  • Bisphenol A (BPA): BPA is an industrial chemical used to make many hard plastics and the liners of many canned foods. It’s an endocrine disruptor that could disturb normal fetal development. In January 2010, the FDA stated that “recent studies provide reason for some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behaviour, and prostate gland of fetuses, infants, and children.” Most of those tests have been done on animals, and the FDA says there are “substantial uncertainties” about BPA’s effects on human health. The plastics industry has maintained that low levels of BPA exposure are safe.  However, if you choose to avoid BPA while pregnant, a wide range of BPA-free plastics and glass containers are available. 


Drinks to Limit or Avoid

  • Alcohol (beer, wine, or spirits),
  • Unpasteurized juices: These products are prone to germs, including E. coli. Check the label to be sure juice is pasteurized,
  • Lead: This may reach you via your tap water, so have it tested.  
  • Caffeine (coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy beverages, and other sources):  This may increase the risk of miscarriage, reduced birth weight, and stillbirth, but the research is conflicting.  
  • Herbal Teas and Supplements: Herbal teas are caffeine-free, but their safety is unclear when you’re expecting. 


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