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Personal Care and Hygiene in Pregnancy


Written by : Dr.M.D.Mazumdar, MD

The vast majority of pregnancies are normal. Minor discomforts like backache and heartburn are so common as to be considered almost normal. However, all women should pay attention to caring for themselves throughout these nine months in the best way possible.

Care of the Teeth

It is ideal to visit the dentist as soon as you get pregnant. If this is not possible, pay a visit at least once during your pregnancy for a proper dental checkup.

Dental Problems during pregnancy:

  • Bleeding and swollen gums: Bleeding and sensitive gums occurring during pregnancy is called ‘pregnancy gingivitis’. It occurs in 50% of all pregnant women. Bleeding usually occurs when you are brushing or flossing your teeth. It can cause such discomfort that even eating can be difficult.

    The high circulating levels of progesterone during pregnancy increases the blood supply to the gums and can cause them to swell up and bleed. It also makes the gums more vulnerable to bacteria in your mouth leading to infections.

  • Periodontitis: In this condition the infection goes beyond your gums into your bone. There can be severe pain and you can even loose your teeth.

  • Pregnancy Tumour : You may occasionally find a small nodule developing in some part inside your mouth, usually on the gums. This nodule is painless and harmless but can bleed on touch. This condition is very rare.

    Risks of Dental Infections:

  • Abortion : Abortion in very early pregnancy in some women is believed to be due to infections reaching the uterus from the gums.

    Studies have shown that pregnant women with gum disease are more likely to have a premature delivery.

    Research has shown a relation between gum disease and a condition called pre-clampsia where your blood pressure can go very high. There can be associated problems like excretion of protein in the urine and swelling of the feet and ankles. Pre-eclampsia can be risky to both you and your baby.

    WHAT YOU CAN DO:

  • Brush and floss your teeth at least twice daily.

  • Use a good quality toothbrush with soft bristles and a toothpaste containing fluoride.

  • Brush your teeth with your fingers after every meal. Rinse your mouth vigorously to flush out all food particles.

  • Limit the sweets and snacks you eat during the day, or at least try to switch to hard fruits like apples that have a rubbing action on your teeth.

  • Increase your intake of milk and other dairy products to get more calcium in your diet.

  • Have a thorough dental checkup. Contact your dentist immediately if you have toothache, loose teeth, bleeding gums or persistent bad breath. Recent advances in local anesthesia and antibiotics have made it possible to undergo any dental procedures you may need during your pregnancy.

  • Inform your doctor about your pregnancy so that he can avoid X-rays and certain medicines that can harm your baby.

    Care of the Breast

    Your breasts will increase in size throughout pregnancy as they prepare to breastfeed your baby.

    In the first trimester, the rapid growth can cause them to be sore and sensitive. This soreness of the breasts will decrease in time although the growth continues till the end of pregnancy.

    In the later part of pregnancy, your nipples may start to drip a thin clear or yellowish liquid called colostrum. This is just a sign that your breasts are getting ready to start their function of breastfeeding.

    Many women however do not have any soreness or leaking of colostrum. They may not even have any significant enlargement of their breasts. This is quite normal and has no effect on future breastfeeding although many women worry that they may not be able to breastfeed their babies.

    WHAT YOU CAN DO

  • Invest in a good quality maternity bra.

  • If your breasts are very sore in early pregnancy, wear a soft seamless cotton bra or a cropped top. A sports bra will also prevent excessive movement and cause less breast soreness. Invest in a sleep bra if the soreness of your breasts are causing sleeplessness.

  • Keep a breast pad or a fine cotton handkerchief inside your bra to absorb any milk that may leak from your breasts.

  • If the colostrum dries into a crust on your breast, rinse it off with warm water. Do not apply soap as it may cause irritation.

  • If your nipples are retracted, draw them out gently every time you bathe or take a shower. Alternatively, you can buy nipple shields which can be worn inside your bra. They keep the nipples erect and cause them to protrude from the areola.

  • If you are on the larger side, wear plus-sized nursing bras, specially made for large women. These have wide straps that help to support the breasts better.

    Bathing

    The levels of the hormone progesterone rises in pregnancy to help maintain the pregnancy as well as to support the growth of the baby. But, progesterone is a thermogenic hormone, meaning that it increases the temperature of the body.

    As pregnancy progresses, you will find that you are feeling the heat more and more.

  • A cool shower once or twice daily will decrease the temperature of your body and help you feel refreshed and relaxed.It also keeps your body, especially your vaginal area clean and free from infection.

  • Do not douche your vagina unless your doctor specifically advises you to do so. It is also wiser to settle for a shower rather than a tub bath as soapy and dirty water can enter your vagina in a tub bath.

  • Do not bathe in very hot water (above 101 degrees). The heat can cause damage to the umbilical cord and lead to abortions.

  • Do not use bubble baths as the perfume and other chemicals in them may enter your vagina and cause irritation.

    Clothing

  • Clothing plays a very important part in how people look and feel about themselves. But, in pregnancy, it is wiser to give priority to comfort rather than looks. Wear loose clothes that do not bind or restrict you in any way.

    Light coloured clothes will also go a long way in making you feel somewhat cooler.

    Wear shoes with a low heel, not more than 1 or 1 ½ inch. This will decrease your backache if you have any. It will also help you to maintain your balance and stability in late pregnancy.

    Use a chillow pillow insert to keep your pillow cool at night. This will always give you a cool place to lay your head on. You can also put the chillow over your abdomen to control any itching you may have at night.

    Safety Tips

    As your pregnancy progresses, the center of gravity of your body shifts forward, and you will find that it gets more and more difficult to maintain your balance. To improve your stability and avoid falling, follow these safety tips both indoors and outdoors.

    Indoor Safety Tips

  • Keep the floor of your house free from clutter, especially the areas that you use most frequently. Tie up loose wires and cords. This will prevent you tripping and falling.

  • Keep all carpets, including those on the stairs, mats and rugs tacked to the floor or at least have skid-proof backing.

  • Keep stairwells well-lighted at all times and install strong grab bars on both sides.

  • Install grab bars on the bathroom walls beside the tub, shower and toilet. Keep a non-skid mat in the shower or in the tub and near the toilet.

  • You can also use non-skid cushions like soapy soles to prevent slipping in the bathroom or while under the shower.

  • Place light switches within reach of your bed. Place a nightlight between your bedroom and the bathroom.

  • Keep a flashlight and fresh batteries handy near your bed.

  • Wear supportive, low-heeled, rubber soled shoes. Avoid walking in socks or slip-on slippers. These can cause you to be unsteady and slip, especially if you should have a bout of sudden dizziness.

    Outdoor Safety Tips:

  • The floors of many shopping malls or hospitals have visually confusing patterns. Be careful while walking on them and do not hesitate to ask for help if you want it.

  • Wear strong, supportive shoes.

  • Do not go out of doors in the sun as far as possible. The sun is strongest between 10 am and 3pm.

  • Keep important necessities like your mobile phone, identification card, hospital registration card and contact information handy in your bag if you go out of doors alone. You never know when you may need them.


  • This site is a Question and Answer Site on Obstetrics and Gynecology . Here you can ask any medical health question you like from the privacy of your home. And our online gynecologist Dr.M.D.Mazumdar, MD (O&G), will reply within 24 hours.

    The advantage of online consultation is that you can ask your question from the privacy of your home at any time you want - morning, day or midnight. You can plan out what you want to ask or even prepare a questionnaire about your concerns. Our expert would be glad to answer every detail.

    We charge a nominal fee of USD 20 ($20) per question to help keep this site up and running. All payments are made through the third-party Paypal credit card processing system to ensure absolute credit card security and reliability.

    The procedure of asking a question is quite simple. Clicking on the link below takes you to the Paypal website where the payment is made. After the payment goes through, you will be directed back to this website where you can ask your question.

    And rest assured, you will get your answer within 24 hours. And usually, even sooner.

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    Consultations on this website are by E-mail only. Our gynecologist, Dr. M.D.Mazumdar answers each and every medical health question personally. Under no circumstances are E-mail addresses provided to anyone else. Each medical health question, pregnancy question, or question on gynecology has a fee of USD 20.00. Payment is through the third party Paypal credit card processing system. This ensures absolute security and reliability.

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