Connie L. Agnew, M.D., answers your questions about pregnancy.
Is intrauterine surgery on pregnant women actually possible, or is it still experimental?
The safety and effectiveness of performing surgery on a fetus in utero to correct congenital defects have not been conclusively proven. Intrauterine surgery is therefore restricted to select medical centers throughout the United States, where the risks and benefits to fetus and mother can be closely monitored and researched.
Although this surgery is considered for several conditions, the greatest research is taking place in the area of spina bifida. While it can't correct this defect, surgery may prevent it from worsening during pregnancy. There are potential complications for mother and baby, however: It's major abdominal surgery for the woman, requiring anesthesia and posing the risk of postoperative infection and/or bleeding. The most significant risk to the fetus is preterm delivery.
So, as is often the case in medicine, while we are able to target the conditions that might benefit from this procedure, we continue to research its use and recognize that it will likely be many years before intra-uterine surgery is performed routinely.
My husband and I use our hot tub almost every day. Can I continue to do so now that I'm pregnant?
I'd advise you to skip it. Soaking in a hot tub can cause an abnormally high body temperature, and research seems to show an association between elevated temperatures in pregnant women and neural-tube defects in the developing baby. Furthermore, high temperatures put you at risk for dehydration and preterm labor.
So while a nice, hot soak might sound like just the thing for your aching muscles, hot tubs--and saunas, too, for that matter--are best avoided throughout pregnancy. Instead, opt for taking baths in water that's under 100° F. It should not be hot enough to elicit sweating, which can lead to dehydration.