Being pregnant essentially consists of nine months of figuring out what is and is not safe to do in your condition. Lifting heavy boxes? Generally considered a bad idea. Eating sushi? Unsafe. Soft cheese? Nope. Hot tubs? Don’t even think about it. Taking Tylenol? Probably OK. But what about X-rays? The issue of getting X-rayed during pregnancy isn’t discussed as often as other potentially harmful activities, so it’s less common knowledge. Are X-rays safe to get while pregnant? My gut says no, mostly because almost everything seems to be unsafe while you’re pregnant. But I’m not an expert; what do the experts say?
Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean that you stop living life, being you, and dealing with potential health issues. There may be situations that arise during the course of your pregnancy that require you to need to get an X-ray. Maybe you fell and broke your arm, or maybe you have something else going on and your care provider wants to take an X-ray to get a better look. There are plenty of reasons that you might need to expose yourself to X-ray machines while carrying a baby, so it’s a good idea to know if it’s OK.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, while X-rays are generally considered safe to get during pregnancy, there is a lot of disagreement about the issue. Studies have shown conflicting information regarding the safety of X-rays during pregnancy, so some professionals suggest erring on the side of caution. However, Mayo Clinic says that it is generally considered safe to get a diagnostic X-ray while pregnant, because the levels of radiation are so low.
Both sources seem to agree that X-rays on teeth, arms, legs, feet, or any other extremities are safe due to the low levels of radiation involved and the fact that these body parts are far enough away from your uterus (and therefore your fetus) to cause any harm. If you’re getting an abdominal or trunk X-ray, you should be more cautious. Of course, regardless of what part of your body you’re having X-rayed, you should always tell your doctor ahead of time if you’re pregnant.
The American Association of Pregnancy makes an important point when they say “in some cases not getting an X-ray can harm you more than it can harm your baby.” It’s always a good reminder that, in order to take care of others, we need to take care of ourselves. Our own health has to be a priority, too. The most important thing to remember if you find yourself in need of a diagnostic X-ray while pregnant is to talk to your doctor and make the decision that you and your care provider feel is best.