When you’re pregnant, you’re likely to hear a lot of strange myths, funny anecdotes, and advice that may sound downright odd. Most of these things are amusing, some give conflicting opinions, and other bits of information are just plain false. With that said, here is a quick look at some of the more popular pregnancy myths around.
Myth No.1- You’re eating for two
Without a doubt a woman’s pregnancy diet is important. You’re providing nourishment to your growing baby. It’s important to stick to the key principles of healthy eating—plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and proteins. However, you are not eating for two! To put this in perspective, consider that in your second and third trimester you only need an extra 300 calories per day while pregnant.
Pregnant women should focus on the types of food they are eating more than the quantity itself. This means eating sensible portions, eating the right foods and making healthy food choices. For those who aren’t able to get all their daily vitamins and minerals, pregnancy supplements are a must. Prenatal supplements are actually a must for al pregnant women.
Myth No. 2- The flu shot can be harmful during pregnancy
There is a misconception floating around that getting a flu shot during pregnancy can be dangerous for both mother and baby. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that pregnant women get a flu shot during any trimester of their pregnancy to protect themselves and their newborn babies from the flu. In fact, the flu is more likely to be worse in pregnant women than in healthy women who are not pregnant2.
Studies also show that the flu shot can also protect a pregnant woman’s baby after birth from catching the flu (since mom passes antibodies on to her developing child) for the first several months after birth.
Consider getting the flu shot while pregnant. Just check with your doctor beforehand.
Myth No. 3- If I eat healthily, I don’t need a prenatal vitamin
Everyone has nutritional gaps in their diet—even the healthiest of people. A prenatal vitamin will help fill those gaps. You need a lot of extra nutrition during pregnancy. Without sufficient amounts of calcium, choline, iron, DHA/EPA, folate, vitamin c, vitamin a, and others, you and your baby will be susceptible to complications before and after pregnancy. Here are some examples:
- Preterm birth
- Low birth weight
- Gestational diabetes
- Neural tube defects
You can’t prevent everything that happens during pregnancy. But, you can drastically lower your risk by making your nutrition a priority.
Myth No.4- Avoid fish
Another popular myth is that pregnant women should avoid all fish. Once again, this comes with caveats. In fact, eating two servings of fish per week can be healthy for mom and baby3. Coldwater fish, in particular, contains lots of great omega-3 fatty acids, which help with your baby’s brain development and vision.
What women should avoid is fish that is high in mercury such as swordfish, shark, tilefish, and king mackerel. Salmon, shrimp, and canned light tuna are better choices. Additionally, for those that don’t like fish but still want the great benefits, consider prenatal supplements that contain omega-3s.
Myth No. 5- Pregnancy always results in stretch marks, varicose veins, and excess weight gain
This myth does not always hold true. Every pregnancy, just like every woman, is different. Although most women do experience a combination of some of these symptoms, there is no certainty that all women will experience any or all of them. You won’t know until the end of your pregnancy whether your body is more susceptible to these side effects or not.
When it comes to weight gain, some of it is unavoidable. With all the hormonal and other changes that occur, weight gain is sometimes a side effect. However, your diet can be a major factor in your weight gain. Many women experience cravings during their pregnancy—that is normal. But just as with every phase of life, overeating can cause weight gain. Though you will be eating a few more calories over your pregnancy, make sure you are maintaining a healthy diet—even add some safe exercises into your daily routine.
Myth No. 6- Caffeine is always a no
There are so many different coffee options: mocha, latte, espresso, americano, macchiato, cappuccino, Americano. You can have it black, hot, iced. If coffee is your constant companion, giving it up while pregnant may seem daunting. While you are pregnant, you do need to cut back your caffeine intake. However, you do not have to give it up completely.
Moderate levels of caffeine have not been found to be harmful. This means that consuming around 150-300 mg caffeine is okay. As a reference, an 8 oz cup of coffee has anywhere from 100-170 mg of caffeine. If you are nervous about cutting back on caffeine without experiencing withdrawals, here are some tips:
- Start cutting back your caffeine intake before you are pregnant so you can do it gradually
- Try drinking decaf or replace your coffee with caffeinated soda or juice
- Water down your caffeinated drinks
Myth No. 7- You can’t fly
If someone tells you that you can’t fly while pregnant, just think of the classic Peter Pan song. You can fly. There are just some precautions to take.
You might not want to fly during your first trimester if you have morning sickness. The best trimester to travel in general is the second trimester. You will be feeling less nauseous and you won’t be as uncomfortable as the third trimester. However, with the direction of your doctor, you can fly during all three trimesters. You should not fly after 36 weeks since your baby could come at any time. Here are some tips to prepare for flying while pregnant:
Wear compression socks. These are especially important during long flights. While you are pregnant, your circulation slows which can cause blood clots. Compression socks can help improve your circulation.
Drinks plenty of fluids. Drinking enough fluids is always a good idea during pregnancy. But while flying, you can become more dehydrated and can suffer from swelling due to the pressurized cabin. Drinking a lot of water (and trying to avoid caffeine) on your flight will counteract dehydration.
Get up and stretch. Stretching and walking down the aisle will not only make you feel more comfortable but will help promote healthy blood flow.
Pack snacks. Keeping snacks on hand will help curb the pregnancy munchies. Snacks can also help calm your stomach if you begin to feel nauseous.
Pick an aisle seat. If you have a choice, choose an aisle seat. This will be beneficial for multiple reasons. For one, it will help you get comfortable and stretch your legs. You won’t feel as crowded. And as every pregnant woman knows, when you need to use the restroom, it often can’t wait. So you will want an aisle seat for easy access to the bathroom.
Request ginger ale. You may experience some nausea during your flight. To help ease nausea, ask for ginger ale while on your flight. Even on short flights, there is a drink service.
Myth No. 8- Exercise is a bad idea
On the contrary. Exercise is a great idea. It is important to always use caution and not overdo it—all exercise should be under the supervision of your doctor. The safest exercises during pregnancy include:’
- Safe strengthening exercises
Make sure to only do what is comfortable. If your pregnancy is considered high risk, you should not participate in exercise. Some of these conditions may include any bleeding or spotting, if you are on bed rest, or are at risk for preterm birth.
Myth No. 9- Skip the medication
True, there are some medications to stay away from. But you don’t have to suffer either. Here are some safe medications:
- Sudafed (under the direction of a doctor. Ask before using)
There are other medications you can take, just check with your physician.
Myth No. 10- Eat three meals a day
While you are pregnant, it is actually better to eat five to six small meals a day. You should still eat meals at breakfast, lunch, and dinner but make them smaller. And then disperse three hearty snack times throughout the day. Eating smaller meals more frequently has many benefits.
- Having food in your stomach throughout the day can help reduce nausea.
- Eating more meals throughout the day can make sure you are getting constant nutrition and not going hungry (a big no-no during pregnancy).
- Smaller, more frequent meals can help you control your pregnancy weight gain and prevent overeating at meal times.