Almost as soon as expectant mothers (and fathers!) confirm a pregnancy, many important questions come to mind. Is my baby healthy? Will I be a good parent? What will childbirth be like? Other questions pop up along the way. Polling family and friends and searching the internet can lead to a variety of inconsistent answers.

We asked our providers some of these questions, and here’s what they had to say:

Can I Get My Hair Colored When I’m Pregnant?

It’s true that when you color your hair, you can absorb small amounts of chemicals through your skin (and scalp). While there is very little evidence that this poses risks to you or your baby, if you’re concerned, wait until after your first trimester (when the baby’s organs are forming) and/or just have your hair highlighted, which can mean less dye in contact with your scalp. If you do color or highlight your hair – at home or in the salon – be aware that the smell of the products used may affect you differently than when you’re not pregnant. Make sure the area is well ventilated and consider booking the first appointments of the day when the odor is likely to be less strong.

Can I Get My Nails Done When I’m Pregnant?

In this case, there is no evidence that getting your nails done periodically poses any risks for your baby. As with any mani/pedi, make sure the salon is clean, the tools are sterilized between use and the technicians are licensed. Again, strong chemical smells might affect you differently, so good ventilation is a good idea.

Can I Paint the Baby’s Room?

Yes; there are no studies documenting adverse pregnancy effects or birth defects from working with latex (acrylic) paint. This is the most common type of household paint used today. It doesn’t contain solvents and can be cleaned up with soap and water. You should avoid oil-based paints. Also, if your home project involves removing old paint or finishes, have someone else do it while you’re out of the house. This is because paints used before the 1970s were commonly lead-based. The dust and particles released in the removal of these finishes could be harmful to you and your baby.

What About Alcohol? I Heard a Little When You’re Pregnant is Okay.

“No one knows how much alcohol it takes to cause fetal alcohol syndrome or its variants for an individual patient,” says Dr. Damon Warhus, “it’s best to avoid it completely.” Problems associated with ‘fetal alcohol spectrum disorder’ can include speech and language delays, learning disabilities, abnormal facial features and small head size, among others.

Is Caffeine Okay During Pregnancy?

Moderation is the key here, according to Dr. Greg Eilers: “Most of the high-quality scientific evidence suggests that moderate consumption of caffeine is safe before, during and after pregnancy. I recommend my patients consume less than 200 mg per day, which is about equivalent to an eight-ounce cup of strong coffee.” Read more about what Dr. Eilers has to say about caffeine and pregnancy

Is It Safe to Exercise?

“Absolutely!” Dr. Gina Allison encourages her patients to remain physically active during pregnancy: “The benefits of exercise during this time are significant—it improves energy, mood and promotes healthy sleep. Exercise may reduce your risk of developing gestational diabetes, may keep your baby in a healthy weight range and may aid in your ability to cope with the discomforts of labor.” Dr. Allison warns against contact sports, scuba diving and alpine skiing, but otherwise recommends listening to your body – and your healthcare provider. “If you feel severe or persistent abdominal pain or experience any vaginal bleeding, you should stop, rest and notify your provider. There are also a few conditions that may affect pregnancy for which your provider may recommend that you reduce your physical activity.” Read more about Dr. Allison’s recommendations for exercise during pregnancy

What About Sushi?

Sushi, and other food-safety related questions, are very common ones during pregnancy. They’re also among the questions for which you’re likely to encounter the widest range of opinions from family and friends! The professional verdict on raw sushi: don’t eat it. Un- or undercooked meats, poultry and seafood increase your risk of contracting a bacterial or parasitic infection. What about unpasteurized milk, soft cheeses and lunch meat? Find all the answers to your pregnancy food questions here. >

There are many things we want you to know about having a healthy pregnancy—even before you conceive! If you’re thinking about trying to get pregnant, schedule an appointment with one of our physicians or certified nurse midwives. If you’ve just found out you’re pregnant, contact an office to schedule your early prenatal visit today!