FAQs

Can I eat the following foods while pregnant?

While you are pregnant you should continue to consume a variety of fish as part of a healthy diet but the consumption of certain species needs to be limited because of the mercury content.

You should limit your intake of shark (flake), marlin or swordfish to no more than one serve per fortnight with no other fish to be consumed during that fortnight. For orange roughy(also known as sea perch) and catfish you should consume no more than one serve per week with no other fish being consumed during that week.

Otherwise it is safe and healthy to eat two to three serves per week of other types of fish.

Should be avoided.

Should be avoided.

Should be avoided.

Should be avoided, due the risk of Listeria. However, if the cheese is heated until piping hot, it is safe.

Should be avoided.

Should be avoided.

Should be avoided if it includes a dressing.

Should be avoided.
Should be avoided.

Are safe if you are sure they have been cooked until piping hot. If you are unsure of how hot they were cooked, they are best avoided.

If you have cooked it yourself and can ensure it was prepared correctly, it is safe. Pre-cooked chicken, particularly diced/sliced chicken at delis, fast-food restaurants or food courts should be avoided.

Travel

The primary concern I have for pregnant women who wish to travel is that, if you deliver away from Melbourne, the risks to your and your baby are greater:

  • You will need to find a new hospital and a new doctor, neither of whom will have a record of your history.
  • If you deliver even slightly prematurely, you are not permitted to travel until the newborn is the equivalent of 40 weeks gestation.
  • It is very difficult to get travel insurance to cover you for pregnancy after around 24-26 weeks internationally, or 34-36 weeks domestically.
  • The costs for an international delivery can be as high as $1 million, and are rarely covered by insurance

It is for these reasons that I do not recommend pregnant women fly internationally from around 24 weeks, and domestically after around 34 weeks.If you do need to fly, the airlines will require a letter from me authorising you to fly (either internationally or interstate) after 20 weeks gestation. Please contact me to discuss this.

 

Travel and illness: 

In some countries, hygiene standards may not be as stringent as they are in Australia, and the risk of infection (and thus complications) is substantially higher.

 

Guidelines:

  • Everyone knows about ‘Bali Belly’, but it can occur in many countries and can result in premature labour or other complications.
  • When travelling, avoid salads, ice, water (including bottled water unless you can be certain you are the one who broke the seal) or anything else that may have been rinsed in water.
  • Also try not to eat food of which you cannot guarantee the safety.

Medications

It is important to understand how drugs are classified according to their safety in pregnancy.  In Australia drugs are categorised as A, B, C, D or X according to their safety in pregnancy.

Category A drugs have been taken by a large number of pregnant women for many years with no evidence of any adverse effects on the fetus ever having been reported.

Category B drugs, likewise, have never been shown to have any adverse effects but have only been taken by a limited number of pregnant women.

Category C drugs have been known to have effects on the fetus but these are not necessarily effects that may be harmful nor particularly relevant during the first trimester.  For instance, it is best to avoid sleeping tablets late in the third trimester but they have no effects in the first trimester and therefore are safe to take.

Category D and Category X drugs are known to cause fetal malformations and must never be taken in pregnancy.

You can be assured that if I ever prescribe a drug for the treatment of any condition in pregnancy that I am perfectly comfortable with it’s safety.  I will never prescribe a category D or X medication; almost always I will prescribe Category A and sometimes Category B drugs.  If I ever prescribe a Category C drug I will explain why it is safe for you to use at that time but not safe to use later in pregnancy.

Nevertheless, I understand that there is a great reluctance for any women to take any medication in pregnancy and this is completely understandable.  However, there are times when the benefits of taking medication outweighs any potential risk but it is always up to you.

More Info

All antihistamines, including modern non-sedative antihistamines such as Claratyne and Zyrtec, are completely safe.

Steroid nasal sprays such as Rhinocort can be safely used during your entire pregnancy. Vasoconstrictive nasal sprays should be used for no more than 48 hours.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (Nurofen, Voltaren, Aspirin, Brufen, Mobic, Celebrex) must not be used at any stage in pregnancy. If you have inadvertently taken these, please call me.

Paracetamol (Panadol, Herron) is completely safe at all stages of pregnancy.

Codeine-based analgesics (Panadeine, Panadeine Forte, Mersyndol) are all safe in pregnancy, but are very constipating and can be addictive with prolonged use. Please discuss these medications with me if you plan to use them for more than a few days.

The common pregnancy multivitamins (such as Blackmore’s Pregnancy Gold, Elevit and Swisse) are all safe to use.

Some vitamins and natural herbal remedies can potentially be harmful. Please discuss any other brands with me before taking them.

A simple natural therapy is pear juice. I suggest 1-2 glasses a day. Pear juice can be purchased at supermarkets where you buy canned fruit and is remarkably effective.

My recommendations are to use Coloxyl as a stool softener and Movicol as an agent to treat constipation, usually in combination.

Please do not use Senna-containing laxatives, liquorice or other laxatives without consulting me.

If you have been prescribed an SSRI such as Zoloft, please do not stop taking this medication. It is very effective, completely safe and should be continued throughout pregnancy and breast-feeding if your treating clinician has recommended it. Please remember to advise me or your anaesthetist if you are taking these medications as they can interact with one particular pain-killer.

The ideal advice is that you should completely abstain from alcohol during pregnancy. In reality, a glass or two of wine once or twice a week has never been proven to be harmful during pregnancy. So feel to have a glass or two of champagne on your birthday or anniversary!

Cigarette smoking is harmful at all stages of pregnancy. It can cause restriction of your baby’s growth, worsening of high-blood pressure conditions and a higher chance of placental bleeding. It is also associated with a higher risk of SIDS. I recognise that it may be very difficult to stop smoking, particularly if you are a heavy smoker, but even a moderate reduction is beneficial to your baby. I recommend you completely stop smoking as soon as possible in pregnancy.

During pregnancy, I will recommend that you are vaccinated against influenza and pertussis (whooping cough.) If you are not immune to rubella and chickenpox, I will organise a postnatal vaccination for you, but please do not have these vaccinations while you are pregnant. If you are inadvertently vaccinated against rubella or chickenpox in pregnancy, please do not panic, as no adverse reactions have ever been reported.

Any other vaccinations should be discussed with me, as some are contraindicated in pregnancy.