Medical and scientific breakthroughs are truly amazing. Something that moms thought was impossible can in a matter of years become routine practice. Just the same with various things, like pregnancy and childbirth there can be a lot of misinformation. One of the big reasons is that there’s just so much information out there, whether it’s online or people passing on their infinite pregnancy knowledge.
Throughout the years there have been many myths or legends surrounding pregnancy that many of us were taught to believe are true. A friend told me that her family believed that women always needed to wear slippers when stepping onto cold concrete floors so their uterus wouldn’t get a chill, rendering them barren. Another acquaintance told me, while she was expecting, that she knew she was having a girl because her skin was breaking out and her face was puffy – since girls steal beauty from their mothers while they are in the womb. These are examples of some fertility and pregnancy myths.
These myths could come as unsolicited advice from a well-meaning neighbour, or even someone passing on medical information that is outdated, but was once considered best practice. Here are 15 quite common pregnancy myths that we’re about to debunk thanks to advances in science.
15 'Dying Your Hair Is Dangerous'
One of the telltale signs of a pregnant woman, beyond the baby bump, is her roots that show about nine months’ worth of growth at the end of pregnancy. Here’s the thing, many of us have been told that the salon is a no go during pregnancy when it really isn't– studies on the matter have been inconclusive. The University of North Carolina Professor Dr. Chescheir says, “We don't believe there's any fetal risk from hair dyes and such," but noted that the strong smells associated with these treatments may make mothers, particularly in their first trimester, feel queasy. Some mothers opt to wait just until their first trimester is over to hit the salon, but another thing to consider is that your hair might react differently to your usual treatments in pregnancy, so let your stylist know you’re expecting for all natural alternatives and other hacks.
14 'Never Ever Drink Coffee'
I’m a caffeine lover, and while I was willing to give up my sushi and my evening glass of white wine for my children, I would have done just about anything to keep my morning cup of coffee and afternoon tea. Yes, caffeine will cross mom’s placenta, which means if mom drinks tons of espresso and red bull that baby is going to feel the effects, but that doesn’t mean she needs to go cold turkey. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say a moderate amount (of less than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day is okay and, “does not appear to be a major contributing factor in miscarriage or preterm birth.” The Bump released some helpful infographics so mom can track exactly how she wants to enjoy her daily allocated fill of cold brew.
13 'Morning Sickness Ends In The Second Trimester'
I counted down the days until I reached my second trimester, only to find that my morning sickness (and my afternoon and evening sickness) planned to stay beyond week 13 and well into the 20’s of my pregnancy. While more than 50 percent of women experience some form of morning sickness during the first trimester of pregnancy, another number (unclear on exactly how many) will unfortunately continue to feel this way, some for their entire pregnancy. Kate Middleton has increased awareness of severe morning sickness which can lead to dehydration of baby and mom, called hyperemesis gravidarum. Baby Center recommends talking to your health care provider if you lose more than two pounds, have nausea and vomiting after week 20, you vomit blood, are dizzy, have abdominal pain, a fever, swelling, or any signs of dehydration.
12 'Avoid Cheese At All Costs'
If you love a nice brie with cranberries don’t panic just because you’re pregnant. For whatever reason, there’s been some miscommunication in terms of charcuterie dos and don’ts for expecting mothers. Many equate soft cheeses with unpasteurized products, which might not necessarily be true. Just go to your local deli or grocer and ask them to point you towards the pasteurized cheeses – there’s a ton of them available -you just need to look. Then grab some de-alcoholised wine and you’re ready for your wine and cheese party. Be sure to check your labels and do your homework. In Canada it is illegal to sell unpasteurized milk, but it is perfectly legal to sell unpasteurized cheeses, so don’t think you’re safe just because of milk laws.
11 'Stress Is Bad For The Unborn Baby'
People often talk about tiptoeing around a pregnant woman because 1) they’re terrified of her in her hormone enhanced state and 2) that they have been taught that stressing out mom is bad for the baby. A study conducted by John Hopkins University and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development revealed the opposite, so long as it’s mild to moderate levels of stress. Lead author Janet A. DiPietro, PhD said, "modest anxiety and daily stress during pregnancy is associated with more advanced early child development.” DiPietro added, “Prenatal maternal stress also didn't interfere with children's temperaments, attention capacity or ability to control behavior and did not cause hyperactivity." So moms don’t need to remove all stressors like work deadlines from their lives just because they’re expecting.
10 'No Hanky Panky Allowed'
Some women have shown concerns as to whether or not bedroom encounters, particularly during climax can cause a miscarriage. Ask your doctor, particularly if you are at risk for preterm labour or have experienced some bleeding during pregnancy. For low-risk pregnancies, don’t worry and enjoy yourself – some women and health care practitioners swear by intimate moments being a great way to jump-start labour if mom is past her due date. Research shows that intimacy with a partner in no way will physically hurt or impact baby who is protected thanks to the amniotic sac. That doesn’t mean that mom doesn’t need to worry about STIs. Things like herpes, warts, chlamydia, or HIV ca be passed on to baby, so get tested early in pregnancy and practice safe sex.
9 'Your Pregnancy Pounds Won't Impact Baby'
We’re not talking about heredity here, we’re talking specifically about what mom did while she was pregnant with her child and the lasting impact on her children. Research has found that moms who gain more than the doctor recommended amount of weight during pregnancy have a baby with a four times greater risk of becoming an overweight child. If a baby is born with a low birth weight, this may have a negative impact in the functioning of their blood vessels which some say is as significant as the impact of smoking. It’s been determined that for every one kilogram decrease in birth weight, blood vessel capacity becomes equal to having smoked 20 cigarettes each days for four and a half years in terms of baby’s health.
8 'The Flu Shot Is Risky'
Many women will stress that the flu vaccine may give them the flu, or even worse that some things found in the shot will hurt the baby. This just isn’t true. Clinical Maternal and Fetal Medicine Professor Nancy Chescheir says the “Flu vaccination is very important” for expecting moms and says that this shot won’t give mom the flu and that there is no evidence that this vaccine is going to hurt the baby. Chescheir says, “Women who are pregnant and come down with the flu do not tolerate it well and have a much higher risk of becoming extremely sick and a higher risk of dying from the flu than the general population." So save your worry for something else and just get the shot, for you and baby.
7 'Seafood Should Never Be Eaten'
There are so many rules about what mom can and cannot eat, that it may seem tempting to just avoid fish all together when pregnant instead of eating the wrong thing by accident. Here’s the thing: two servings of fish per week have significant nutritional benefits for mom and baby thanks to omega-3 fatty acids which aid brain development and vision, and the FDA recommends pregnant women enjoy two to three servings each week. Here’s the cheat sheet: avoid fish high in mercury (like swordfish, bigeye tuna, marlin, king mackerel, shark and orange roughy) as well as raw fish and sushi, but consider adding in salmon, tilapia, shrimp, and canned tuna in water to help baby get that brain boost.
6 'You'll Glow With Pregnancy Happiness'
Pregnancy is not a one size fits all experience. Many moms are elated about the whole thing, others (myself included) feel like a giant bag of hot wet garbage for the majority of their pregnancy. Think that depression is only for after baby is born? Psychiatrists have estimated prenatal depression in anywhere from four to 25 percent of pregnant women. The effects of prenatal depression can increase the odds of a premature delivery and can lead to low birth weight for the baby. Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed if your pregnancy isn’t all sunshine and roses, and talk to your primary health caregiver to get support should you feel depressed during your pregnancy. Symptoms can include: sadness, trouble concentrating, sleeping too little or too much, loss of interest in things normally enjoyed, thoughts of death, and anxiety.
5 'Mom Won’t REALLY Connect With The Unborn Baby'
Some moms feel more connected to their baby throughout their pregnancy that others. Previously, before science became so intensely curious about pregnancy, mom was simply thought of as a vessel or carrying case for baby, and not a whole lot more in terms of her influence over her unborn child. Today science is discovering that so much of what mom does in her day-to-day life will impact baby in terms of the air she’s breathing and the food and chemicals she may be exposed to. In fact, now many researches note pregnancy as “the staging ground for well-being and disease in later life." Recent research has revealed that mom can connect with baby through her voice and smell immediately after birth in addition to the positive influence of skin to skin contact after birth. Obviously mom is an influence sooner than she may think.
4 'It’s Best For Mom To Skip Out On The Gym'
As tempting as it may be to use pregnancy as an excuse to skip out on your regular weekly exercise, unless mom is on bed rest, or has received instructions from her doctor about not breaking a sweat, keep on working. Many experts boast how low impact exercise not only will help mom control her weight during pregnancy, but it will also prepare her body for the stresses associated with labor. Just like everyone else, it’s recommended that mom log at least 150 minutes per week of physical activity. Moms should talk to their doctors about what is safe, and avoid contact sports or exercises that have mom lying on her back since it reduces blood flow to mom’s brain and her uterus.
3 'Astrology Has No Effect On The Baby'
When I discovered I was having twins, this sped up my due date, and my children are both Leos instead of Virgos. Even though my kids are Leos, I’m fairly convinced that my daughter, twin A, is a Virgo at heart. Aside from astrology, when baby arrives will impact their lives greatly. Fetal research continues to reveal findings on how the time of year when baby arrives has an impact on a child, particularly their mental and physical health. Science shows that children born in late summer and early fall have thicker bones and are often taller compared to those born at other times of the year. In terms of mental health, children born in late winter and early spring are said to be 10 percent more likely to develop schizophrenia compared to those born in other seasons.
2 'Stay Grounded (And Avoid Air Travel)'
There is radiation present when flying thanks to body scanners and X-Ray machines at the airport, as well as some encountered when flying at sky high altitudes, but don’t present your employer with a doctor’s note about skipping that important out of town meeting just yet. Dr. Chescheir says, “We get exposed to radiation all the time from being on the ground, and certainly flying increases that a bit. But the kind of radiation you're exposed to [during air travel] doesn't have much penetration into the body, so it's unlikely to ever cause fetal exposure at all." For those concerned and because there is a completely safe alternative the FDA has recommended that expecting moms request the pat down if they have concerns about the ill effects of going through a body scanner.
1 'Remember... Eat For Two!'
Yes, a pregnant woman needs more calories for the baby than someone who is not carrying a child; however it doesn’t mean that mom should be ingesting double her normal amount of calories or sending her partner out for daily Big Mac runs. Most women need only around an extra 300 calories of food per day in pregnancy. So think a glass of milk and a small piece of chicken. Women within a healthy pre-pregnancy weight range should try to gain around 25-35 pounds of weight in pregnancy, whereas those who are overweight should gain less and speak to their doctor about their individualized goal pregnancy weights. Women, having just one child, who gain over 50 pounds have a higher risk of needing a C-Section or having a complicated birth.