What should pregnant women pay particular attention to?
The expectant mother should discuss the intake of all medications with her treating doctor beforehand! Even supposedly harmless medicines can enter the child’s circulation and have undreamt-of effects. A teratogenic (malformation-causing) effect has been proven with antiepileptic drugs (drugs to treat epilepsy), lithium, coumarins (Marcumar®), SSRI (antidepressants = drugs to treat depression) as well as some antibiotics and oral antidiabetics (drugs for diabetes mellitus).
Smoking during pregnancy can lead to fetal circulatory disorders and lower birth weight. Furthermore, the probability that the child will later suffer from ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) or asthma is significantly increased. Continuous high alcohol consumption (>50-80 g/day) can lead to alcohol embryopathy (malformations of the heart, joints, skeleton, genitals and kidneys, microcephaly (small brain) and eye damage) and fetopathy (short stature and mental retardation).
Drugs should generally be avoided and withdrawal should only be carried out under medical supervision. An increase in the basal metabolic rate can be observed, but an increased calorie intake is not necessary. Instead, the diet should have an increased nutrient density and in particular contain a lot of protein (contained e.g. in meat, fish, eggs, dairy products).
Raw meat products and liver should be avoided in any case because of the risk of toxoplasmosis infection (parasite infection). Folic acid should be substituted during and ideally before pregnancy to avoid neural tube defects. Otherwise it is found in wholemeal products and some vegetables.
The supply of iron should be taken into account, especially in pregnant vegetarians. Iron deficiency should generally be treated. Of course, iron is found especially in whole grain products, meat and pulses.
The increased need for calcium and vitamin D can be met by increased consumption of dairy products and cheese as well as fatty fish and staying outside. In order to avoid an iodine deficiency, only iodised table salt should be taken and possibly substituted with tablets. Otherwise the child is at risk of iodine deficiency goiter (thyroid disease) or even growth and brain development disorders.
Vaccinations with live vaccines should not be carried out during and up to three months before pregnancy. These include measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, cytomegaly, herpes simplex and hepatitis A vaccinations. Vaccination against poliomyelitis (polio) should not be carried out in the last two months of pregnancy.
Vaccinations with inactivated vaccines are possible without hesitation, especially from the 4th month of pregnancy. During pregnancy, no radiation exposure examinations (e.g. X-rays, CT, scintigraphy) should be carried out if possible, as they could damage the unborn child. In general, there are no restrictions.
On long flights, however, the increased risk of thrombosis should be considered. Intercontinental flights should be considered especially during early pregnancy. In principle, air travel is permitted during pregnancy.
However, it is advisable for every pregnant woman to consult her gynaecologist before boarding a plane to see if there is any medical reason not to fly. Various gynaecologists have conducted intensive research to find out whether there are reasons that could prohibit pregnant women from flying in general, but in most cases this has not been successful. However, there is one topic on which the specialists agree: Wearing class 2 compression stockings on any kind of air travel is absolutely recommended.
Sitting in an airplane for long periods of time can increase the risk of thrombosis for the mother and thus also endanger the child, which can be prevented relatively easily with the stockings. However, there are a few exceptions where air travel can actually have a negative effect on pregnancy. On the one hand this applies to high-risk pregnancies, but also to women who have already had miscarriages in previous pregnancies.
Massive fear of flying can also cause great stress for mother and child, which can endanger the health of the rest of the pregnancy. Furthermore, every pregnant woman should inform herself in good time about the regulations of the respective airline regarding the carriage of pregnant women. It is not uncommon for a flight to require a medical certificate confirming the pregnant woman’s fitness to fly after reaching the 36th week of pregnancy (on some airlines even from the 34th week of pregnancy).
This certificate can be issued by a gynaecologist or a midwife and should be carried in your hand luggage. During the first 2 months you should be careful with sauna visits. After that a moderate sauna visit (not longer than 10 minutes) as well as a not too warm bathtub contributes to the general relaxation of the pregnant woman.