5 everyday products that you SHOULD NOT use during pregnancy

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Dr Ragini Agrawal, gynaecologist and clinical director of W-hospital in Delhi, talks about common every day products that must be avoided during pregnancy

Pregnancy brings with one big list of do’s and don’t’s. While choosing what to eat and what clothes to wear is still a little easy, deciding what products would be safe and unsafe to use is a more challenging task.

When I was seven months pregnant and troubled by backache, many people including my mother asked me not use pain-relieving gels or sprays as they can be absorbed by the body and be harmful for the foetus.

In fact, many people say that products, which seem harmless otherwise or those, which are commonly used such as pain-relievers, mosquito repellents that we use on a daily basis can also have some side effects.

We spoke with Dr Ragini Agrawal, gynaecologist and clinical director of W-hospital in Delhi, says that common pains and aches are very common problems in pregnancy and the most common reason apart from nutritional deficiencies such as low vitamin D and B12 level, ferreting and thyroid disorder, is effect of pregnancy on the musculoskelton system.

She says, “Every pregnant woman should be properly evaluated for deficiencies and proper supplementation should be done with neutraceuticals. Thyroid and protein level should be maintained. She should be encouraged to do exercise in supervision of trained physiotherapist. Her posture should be corrected. Massage with pain-relieving herbal oils is also beneficials.”

Here are 5 every day products that you should not use during pregnancy:

#1. Pain-relieving gels/ sprays

Many of us have the habit of applying Moov/Volini or just spraying relispray whenever we have backache or we pull a muscle. However, during pregnancy one has to be careful.

“Topical use of medicine can lead to systemic absorption of drug, says Dr Agrawal. “Pain-relieving gels such as Volani contain diclofenec, which can lead to cardiac effect on foetus after 30 weeks. In my practice I am little conservative in use of drugs and as far as the mother and foetus is not getting. So all topical medicines which are considered harmful orally, should be avoided,” she adds.

#2. Anti-aging and skin whitening creams

Many beauty creams that talk about anti-ageing and whitening benefits contain ingredients such as Retin-A, retinol and retinyl palmitate, which can be harmful for the foetus.

“Retonic acid is class X drug and its use is totally contraindicated during pregnancy. All medicines that are applied topically, get absorbed by the body. Cap Retin-A is a proven teratogenic and whenever it is prescribed to a woman of reproductive age group, she is warned to avoid conception for 1 month after she has stopped using it. It is generally recommended not to use tretinoin in pregnancy due to the possible risks,” says Dr Agrawal.

However, women who may have become pregnant after using tretinoin must use 2 effective forms of birth control at least 1 month before starting therapy, during therapy, and for 1 month after stopping the medicine, says Dr Agrawal.

“The amount of drug absorbed from the skin when using this product is very low; however, there are 4 published case reports of birth defects in the literature associated with topical tretinoin use, which are consistent with retinoid embryopathy. So although risk of topical use is low, why take the risk,” she adds.

#3. Acne creams

Acne creams are also commonly used by many women and though mild acne creams are harmless ones that contain high levels of benzoyl peroxide and salicyilic acid should be avoided.

“Only 5 per cent of benzoyl peroxide is absorbed by the skin. Later, it is absolutely metabolized to benzoic acid within the skin and is excreted unchanged in the urine. Topical salicylic acid is an ingredient in a number of cosmetic and acne products and systemic absorption varies. There is no as such risk of adverse events. Thus, it is unlikely to pose any risk to a developing baby,” says Dr Agrawal. However, it would be good to consult a doctor if you use them excessively.

#4. Hair colour

“Use of hair color and chemicals during pregnancy and breastfeeding is a very common question. Although very little dye absorbed in bloodstream which should not affect the growing foetus, we don’t have any supportive evidence for either side,” says Dr Agrawal.

“So, my advice is if not sure then it’s better to avoid during first 4 months when baby is in formative stage. Even after that it should not be very frequent. Avoid unnecessary coloring of hair just to look stylish. You can also use henna (herbs) to colour your hair, which does not have any chemicals. Don’t apply in roots so that it cannot be absorbed from scalp circulation,” she adds.

#5. Mosquito repellents

“Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the use of products containing active ingredients, which have been registered with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use as repellents that can be applied topically to the skin. Of the products registered with the EPA, those containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer-lasting protection. EPA registration means the product to cause adverse effects to human health or the environment, and even pregnant or nursing women,” says Dr Agrawal.

Instead, it is advisable to wear full sleeved shirts and clothing that covers the body entirely and you do not need to use mosquito repellent, sums up Dr Agrawal.

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