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How to Sort Through All the News on Pregnancy

Over-the-Counter Pain Medication continued...

For example, if a mother has severe asthma and can't breathe without her medication, then the benefits of using the medicine during pregnancy will outweigh the risks to the fetus, Moore explains.

"In cases where we have choices between medications, we try to choose the one that is known to be the least toxic to the fetus and still gives the mom the benefit of the drug," she says.

For over-the counter-medications: "Read the label, read the label, read the label," Moore says.

"And talk to your doctor."

Pregnancy and sex

The idea that continuing to engage in sexual activity in the last trimester of your pregnancy increases your risk of premature delivery appears to be unfounded for most healthy women.

Though it's true that a small amount of substances known to trigger labor are found in the man's semen -- and that labor-triggering substances are released when the woman's nipples are stimulated and during orgasm -- doctors say the risk of labor isn't high enough to warn most women and their partners against making love in the weeks prior to their term (37 weeks).

"We found no evidence that sexual activity in late pregnancy increased a woman's risk of preterm delivery between 29 and 36 weeks' gestation," reports Amy E. Sayle, PhD, lead author of a study published in the February issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Moore agrees. "For a generally healthy woman with a generally uncomplicated pregnancy, sex is safe -- even late in pregnancy," she tells WebMD.

Sayle writes, though, that her study does suggest that a small percentage of women who have risk factors for preterm delivery could further increase their risk by engaging in sex. Risk factors for preterm delivery include having had a previous preterm delivery or other pregnancy-related problem, contracting certain vaginal infections, having uterine bleeding during your pregnancy, and smoking, drinking alcohol, or using drugs.

Other obstetricians and high-risk pregnancy experts do advise women at risk of preterm delivery to avoid intercourse. Ask your doctor about your risk factors and whether or not you should engage in sexual activity.

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