Frequently Asked Questions on Pregnancy

1. I may need to have an X-ray but I am 3 months pregnant. Should I wait until after the baby comes or is it OK now?

Most diagnostic X-rays have a low level of radiation, where the effect is unlikely to cause harm to the baby. The concern about X-rays in pregnancy is about the effect of radiation on a developing baby. As its cells are rapidly dividing, radiation could potentially interfere with the process, which could lead to birth defects or serious illness later on in life.

However, the risk to the baby depends on how far on the pregnancy is and the kind of X-ray being done. X-rays of the head, chest and limbs do not usually expose your baby to X-rays. Furthermore, shielding of the abdomen can be done by the radiographers to minimise exposure to the baby.

If your doctor recommends that an X-ray be performed during pregnancy, he/she will have made this recommendation in your interest (or your baby’s). It may be worth asking if an alternative investigation such as an ultrasound might give them the answer they are looking for.

2. We live in an area where insects are a major problem. But now that I am pregnant, I am afraid to use any kind of bug killer or repellent. Are some OK?

Insect repellants that contain N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide or DEET have been studied and found to be safe in pregnant women in their second and third trimester. The use of DEET in the first trimester of pregnancy has not been well studied.

You should also take precautions against insect bites.

These include:

  • Wearing long sleeved shirts and trousers to minimise the amount of skin for insects to bite.
  • Using mosquito nets that have been treated with insecticide around beds, or keeping your doors and windows shut to prevent insects from entering your home. 

3. I am 6 months pregnant and getting ready to go on a tropical vacation. I am really pale and don’t want to feel self-conscious about my ever-expanding belly and my pasty skin! Is it OK to use sunless tanner during pregnancy?

There have not been any long-term studies on the effects of sunless tanners and how they might influence your developing baby. Moreover, hormonal changes in pregnancy can affect how your skin reacts to a lot of things – including beauty products. If in doubt, you should contact your own gynaecologist who will advise you appropriately.

When you’re in the sun during your vacation, make sure to wear sunscreen, drink plenty of fluids, and don’t let yourself get too hot.

4. I have had an ectopic pregnancy in the past. Am I at risk for having another one if I become pregnant again?

Ectopic pregnancy is estimated to occur in about 2% of pregnancies. The chance of a repeat ectopic pregnancy is thought to be 10 to 25%. This depends on the reason for the first ectopic pregnancy, and the type of treatment that you received for it. However, it is important to remember that the chance of a successful healthy pregnancy is 50-80%.

It is important to see your gynaecologist when you find yourself pregnant again after an ectopic pregnancy. An early ultrasound scan can be performed to localize the pregnancy, which can provide reassurance if the pregnancy is in the uterus, or treatment can be initiated early in the event of a further ectopic pregnancy.

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