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Pregnancy Week by Week : Week 14 (part 2) - X-Rays, CT Scans and MRIs during Pregnancy

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6. X-Rays, CT Scans and MRIs during Pregnancy

Some women are concerned about tests that use radiation during pregnancy. Can these tests hurt the baby? Can you have them at any time in pregnancy? Unfortunately, we do not know of any “safe” amount for a developing baby.

Problems, such as pneumonia or appendicitis, can and do occur in pregnant women and may require an X-ray for diagnosis and treatment. Discuss the need for X-rays with your healthcare provider. It’s your responsibility to let your healthcare provider and others know you’re pregnant or may be pregnant before you have any medical test. It’s easier to deal with the questions of safety and risk before a test is performed.

If you have an X-ray or a series of X-rays, then discover you’re pregnant, ask your healthcare provider about the possible risk to your baby. He or she will be able to advise you.

If you enjoy listening to your baby’s heartbeat, devices are available so you can listen at home! Some people believe doing this helps a couple bond with baby. If you’re interested in a use-at-home doppler device, check with your healthcare provider at an office visit. Or check out these devices on the Internet.

Computerized tomographic scans, also called CT or CAT scans, are a form of specialized X-ray. This technique combines X-ray with computer analysis. Many researchers believe the amount of radiation received by a fetus from a CT scan is much lower than that received from a regular X-ray. However, use caution when having these tests until we know more about the effects of even this small amount of radiation on a baby.

Magnetic resonance imaging, also called MRI, is another test widely used today. At this time, no harmful effects in pregnancy have been reported from the use of MRI. However, it may be best to avoid MRI during the first trimester.

7. Dental Care

See your dentist at least once during pregnancy. Tell your dentist you're pregnant. If you need dental work, postpone it until after the first 13 weeks, if possible. You may not be able to wait if you have an infection; an untreated infection could be harmful to you and your baby.

Antibiotics or pain medicine may be necessary. If you need medication, consult your pregnancy healthcare provider before taking anything. Many antibiotics and pain medications are OK to take during pregnancy.

If brushing your teeth makes you nauseous, try a different toothpaste or plain baking soda. Avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol.

Be careful about anesthesia for dental work during pregnancy. Local anesthesia is OK. Avoid gas and general anesthesia when possible. If general anesthesia is necessary, make sure an experienced anesthesiologist who knows you’re pregnant administers it.

Gum Disease. During pregnancy, hormones can make gum problems worse. Increased blood volume can cause gums to swell and make them more disposed to infection.

If you have a condition during pregnancy that causes severe pain, such as a root canal or a severe sprain, and acetaminophen doesn’t take care of it, ask your healthcare provider about using analgesic codeine. It’s considered safe during the first and second trimesters.

Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease. It appears as swollen, bleeding, reddened gums. It’s caused by bacteria growing down into the spaces between the gums and teeth. Experts believe these bacteria can enter the bloodstream, travel to other parts of the body and cause infections in you.

Tip for Week 14

If you must have dental work or diagnostic tests, tell your dentist or your healthcare provider you’re pregnant so they can take extra care with you. It may be helpful for your dentist and healthcare provider to talk before any decisions are made.

Regular flossing and brushing help prevent gingivitis. Brushing with a power toothbrush, especially one with a 2-minute timer, may help clean teeth more thoroughly and may help toughen gums.

Dental Emergencies. Dental emergencies do occur. Emergencies you might face include root canal, pulling a tooth, a large cavity, an abscessed tooth or problems resulting from an accident or injury. A serious dental problem must be treated. Problems that could result from not treating it are more serious than the risks you might be exposed to with treatment.

Eating raisins can inhibit the growth of bacteria that cause gum disease and tooth decay.

Dental X-rays are sometimes necessary and can be done during pregnancy. Your abdomen must be shielded with a lead apron before X-rays are taken.

8. Your Nutrition

Being overweight when pregnancy begins may present special problems for you. Your healthcare provider may advise you to gain less weight than the average 25 to 35 pounds recommended for a normal-weight woman. You will probably have to choose lower-calorie, lower-fat foods to eat. A visit with a nutritionist may be necessary to help you develop a healthful food plan. You will be advised not to diet during pregnancy. See the discussion below dealing with obesity during pregnancy.

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