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Can I Exercise While Pregnant? Pregnant Mom Exercising
Author: TLN

“Can I _______ While Pregnant?”

Find out what is and what isn’t off-limits during pregnancy

We’ve all been there: You’re pregnant, maybe for the first time, and you’re constantly consulting Google about what you can and cannot do. After all, there are so many things you want to continue doing during pregnancy, but of course, you also don’t want to put your little one at risk. New mom fears are real, and we’re here to help. As moms who have seen the search results before, let us help put your mind at ease with this roundup of answers to some of the most common questions expectant mothers ask.

Can I exercise during pregnancy?

If you’re one of those people who needs to get their blood pumping every day to feel good, you may be wondering if you can do things like hot yoga and CrossFit or go for a run while pregnant. We have good news! Exercising during pregnancy can actually help you prepare for labor and delivery, but do make sure to ask your doctor what’s right for you. For moms who worked out regularly before pregnancy, it’s just fine to work out at the level you’re used to—with the OK from your doctor and modifications as needed as your belly grows, plus special attention to your hydration and exertion levels. Your joints may also be looser due to an increase in the production of relaxin during pregnancy. The key to safe exercise is listening to your body and not overdoing it. That said, there are some exercises you should definitely avoid. For example, hot yoga’s extreme temps make it a no-no while pregnant, so try regular or prenatal-specific yoga classes instead.

Can I take Tylenol during pregnancy?

Yes, generally speaking. Doctors agree that Tylenol® (acetaminophen) is one of the only pain relievers that’s safe to use while pregnant. So if you have aches and pains that aren’t relieved by more natural remedies—like stretching, extra water, rest and a cold compress or heating pad—Tylenol is a safe option. However, Advil® (ibuprofen) and aspirin are not recommended. Just be aware that different versions of Tylenol may have additional ingredients that are off-limits for pregnant moms. Some studies have shown that paracetamol (another name for acetaminophen) may be linked to behavioral issues later on in life. However, the evidence remains inconclusive on how accurate these studies are. The bottom line: When it comes to taking medication, double-check with your doc.

Can I get a massage while pregnant?

Typically, yes. Getting a massage while pregnant helps boost circulation, digestion and relaxation. Plus massages can help relieve those pregnancy aches and pains. In fact, some massage therapists even offer a prenatal massage option designed to target those pregnancy-specific sore spots. However, some spas will refuse to give massages to women in their first trimester due to the increased risk of miscarriage during that time (primarily for liability reasons). Run it by your doctor and look for a certified prenatal massage therapist.

Can I get a spray tan while pregnant?

While it’s probably safe to get a spray tan while pregnant, it’s best to skip it, especially in the first trimester. The risk with spray tans lies mostly in inhaling the spray, so if you’re looking for a safer option to get some color, try a lotion or cream you can apply without risking ingestion. There aren’t any studies on the safety of DHA, the active ingredient in sunless tanners that temporarily darkens the skin, but it’s generally thought to be safe because it stays on the skin’s surface and so very little DHA, if any, penetrates into the bloodstream. If you’re planning on going outside for some natural sunshine instead, just don’t forget to apply sunscreen, as being pregnant can make your skin more sensitive to the sun’s rays.

Can I dye my hair during pregnancy?

Yes, under certain circumstances, you can dye your hair while pregnant. The chemicals in most dyes are not toxic, but it’s questionable whether they penetrate the skin of the scalp. Plenty of hairdressers (and doctors) err on the side of caution and will suggest using techniques that keep dye away from the scalp or recommend waiting until after the first trimester to color your hair. Second trimester and beyond, be sure to request adequate ventilation and try not to breathe in fumes and sprays.

Can I whiten my teeth during pregnancy?

Doctors and dentists typically do not recommend professional whitening treatments during pregnancy. There isn’t any definitive research about whitening products and their potential effects, so while whitening toothpaste is generally thought to be safe, go ahead and skip strips, pens and trays while you’re expecting.

Can I use acne-fighting products while pregnant?

Some topical acne treatments are considered safe, but many prescription medications are dangerous during pregnancy. Because retinoids and salicylic acid taken orally are strongly discouraged, many doctors suggest skipping them in topical forms too. If you need a way to control acne while pregnant it’s best to consult with your doctor.

Can I sit in a hot tub or take a hot bath while pregnant?

During pregnancy, definitely avoid hot tubs. You can take a nice hot bath, as long as the water’s not too hot. Stick to temperatures from 98.6 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. You want to make sure your body temp doesn’t get too high, which can kick up your heart rate and affect your developing baby. So hot tubs are out. But because your upper body isn’t submerged as deeply in a bathtub and the water cools down as you sit in it, a warm soak at home is all good. Baths can also help decrease swelling, stress and pregnancy insomnia.

Can I fly on a plane during pregnancy?

If you’re not at risk for going into labor or developing other complications, then yes, expectant moms can fly during pregnancy. Typically, doctors will clear you to fly until 36 weeks. Drink lots of fluids and move your legs throughout the flight to prevent clots. Once you’re close to term, it’s a good idea to check your airline’s specific rules on flying while pregnant and carry a doctor’s note that confirms your due date. Some airlines also require a letter from a doctor confirming no complications for traveling moms-to-be who are at 28 weeks and beyond. Before you leave home, look up a hospital close to your destination or the airport in case an emergency occurs.

Can I breastfeed while pregnant?

Usually it’s fine to continue breastfeeding while pregnant—and even eventually tandem-nurse your older child and your newborn. But in some cases of high-risk pregnancies, doctors will advise against breastfeeding to prevent uterine contractions that may lead to preterm labor. Your breasts and nipples can be very sensitive while you’re expecting, and your supply may dip toward the middle of pregnancy, so be aware of these changes and talk to your doctor about what works best for you, your child and your new baby.

Can I paint the nursery while pregnant?

If possible, get someone else to take on any painting jobs during pregnancy. While typical household painting is probably safe because the levels of exposure are so low, there isn’t any definitive research on the subject. All paints emit some type of fumes, and it’s hard to know how much is too much. If you truly must (hello, nesting!), choose a water-based paint, make sure the space is well-ventilated, protect your skin and take plenty of breaks for fresh air.

Can I eat lunch meat and soft cheeses during pregnancy?

Yes and no—deli meat can potentially pose a problem for expecting moms while pregnant. The concern here is listeria, which can be deadly for a developing baby. Most likely, your lunch meat is safe (after all, listeria-related food recalls in recent years have been for things like ice cream and veggies). But because of the small chance of listeria, it’s best to heat up deli meats until they’re steaming before eating. Soft cheeses are typically safe if they’re pasteurized. If you’re ever in doubt, contact your doctor.

Can I drink caffeine while pregnant?

Yes, in small amounts, caffeine is safe to drink for pregnant women. However, most doctors recommend keeping your total caffeine consumption—that’s all coffee, tea, soft drinks, even chocolate—to under 200 milligrams per day. The good news is that’s roughly three cups of regular coffee. Keep in mind, however, that not all cups of coffee contain the same amount of caffeine, so check the label for nutrition facts and pay attention to size, especially if you’re treating yourself with something from a coffee shop, where the caffeine content is typically higher than what you would serve yourself at home. Opting for decaf, half-caf or tea instead will lower the amount of caffeine you’re consuming while still letting you get your fix. 

A general disclaimer when it comes to these kinds of questions: Always check with your doctor and don’t discount the value of a “gut check” as you figure out what you’re most comfortable with. What works for another mom-to-be might not be best for you. And remember, we’re here to help—whether it’s by sharing answers to all those other new mom questions you’re dying to ask or by getting you an insurance-covered breast pump.

 Updated October 2020