From predicting genders to “twins skip generations”, pregnancy is full of myths, old wives’ tales, and misconceptions–all presented as fact. While not everyone is an expert on pregnancy, obstetrics and gynecology, and maternal care, we are!
While some of these pregnancy myths and misconceptions are rather benign, others can have serious consequences for both you and your baby.
Let’s take a moment to debunk some of the most common pregnancy myths with a “fact or fiction” segment!
Pregnancy Myth #1: You Have to Gain A Certain Amount of Weight During Your Pregnancy
Since you’re “eating for two”, it’s okay to pack on the pounds, right?
While pregnant women need to increase their caloric intake, it’s best to do so only slightly. Overeating–especially on empty calories (such as foods with added sugars and solid fats)–can harm both the mother and the fetus.
DO NOT “eat for two” or double your caloric intake. It’s one of the most common pregnancy myths, but it’s also one of the most serious.
Here’s what you should aim for.
First Trimester: Continue eating as normal (no extra calories are needed).
Second Trimester: Add an additional ~340 calories daily.
Third Trimester: Add an additional ~450 calories daily.
While most women gain anywhere from 25 to 35 pounds during the course of their pregnancy, underweight women may gain more and overweight women may gain less. It all depends on your starting weight.
Listen to your doctor during your prenatal checkups. It’s important to gain the right amount of weight to minimize the risk of complications–especially if you’re delivering twins!
Pregnancy Myth #2: You Can’t Engage in Sexual Activity While You’re Pregnant
Having sex while you’re pregnant can hurt the baby, right?
In a complication-free pregnancy, sexual activity is not associated with any risk of pregnancy complications or pre-term birth. The amniotic fluid in your uterus acts as a barrier, protecting the fetus during sexual activity.
In fact, sex during pregnancy has many benefits, such as:
-easing pain and discomfort
-lowering blood pressure
However, if you have had pregnancy complications in the past, a history of pre-term labor or pre-term birth, unexplained vaginal bleeding or discharge, or a diagnosis of placenta previa or incompetent cervix, it’s best to abstain from sex.
Before you jump into bed, make sure you get the green light from your doctor!
Pregnancy Myth #3: You Should Avoid Exercise While Pregnant
Once you’re carrying, exercise can hurt or harm the baby, right?
Exercise is not only good for you, it’s good for your baby too! Pregnant women should strive for 20-30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise four to five times a week.
That means walking, aerobics, tennis, and even household activities like gardening and vacuuming are okay. Avoid more strenuous activities like horseback riding or skiing, or anything else with a risk of falling or causing stress or trauma to your baby.
Pregnancy Myth #4: You Can Have An Occasional Glass of Wine During Your Pregnancy
As long as you’re not drinking a lot or regularly, it’s okay to have a glass of wine here and there, right?
There’s no doubt your pregnancy will stress you out, but even a single glass of wine can have serious consequences.
But what if you just found out you were pregnant and you had been consuming alcohol up until now?
Most women discover they’re pregnant around four weeks after conception. As long as you stop drinking immediately and discontinue use for the duration of your pregnancy, your risk will be low.
But what about coffee?
Pregnant women can consume up to 200 milligrams–enough for an 8 oz coffee–of caffeine per day, so drink up. You’ll need that energy!
Pregnancy Myth #5: If You’re in Good Health, You Won’t Have Any Pregnancy Complications
I’m a healthy weight, in good health, and have had no complications with any previous pregnancies. I won’t have any for this pregnancy, right?
Good health doesn’t always equate to a complication-free pregnancy.
Regular checkups with your doctor or OBGYN can help mitigate the risks of complications and keep you and your baby safe.
Listen to your doctors’ recommendations, follow their advice, and contact them immediately if you have any questions or concerns or you think something may be wrong.
Pregnancy Myth #6: Your Pregnancy is “High-Risk” if You’re Over 35 Years Old
If I’m over 35, is my pregnancy high-risk?
Technically, yes, though most women 35 and older have both a normal pregnancy and a healthy baby.
The pregnancy is only considered “high-risk” because certain complications (like premature birth and birth defects) are considered more likely.
This does not mean they are inevitable–or even likely to occur. It just means they’re more likely to occur in mothers over 35 as opposed to under 35.
If you’re 35 or older, consider prenatal screening tests or make a consultation with your OBGYN to see if you or your baby is at increased risk of complications or birth defects.
Pregnancy Myth #7: Having a C-Section Precludes You From Future Vaginal Deliveries
I had a Caesarian section in the past, so that means I have to have a C-section for all future deliveries, right?
Depending on the reason for your initial Caesarian section, the location of your C-Section scar, and your health history, your doctor may approve you for a VBAC–or Vaginal Birth After a Caesarian.
Many women who have previously had C-Sections are candidates for VBAC, though the procedure does have its risks.
As part of your pregnancy and birth plan, talk to your doctor and OBGYN about whether a VBAC is the right choice for you and your baby.
However, even if you’re approved for a VBAC, you and your OBGYN need to be prepared for an immediate, emergency Caesarian should you or your baby’s health be at risk.
Pregnancy Myth #8: All Mothers Experience The “Baby Blues”
Because of my changing hormones, I should expect to feel depressed shortly after giving birth, right?
In the first few days after childbirth, mothers can expect to feel anxious, upset, or depressed. These feelings typically subside within a few days to a couple of weeks.
However, if these feelings worsen or intensify, it may be a sign of postpartum depression.
If you think you’re experiencing PPD, don’t wait. Check out our support information and make an appointment and talk to your OBGYN!
Pregnancy Myth #9: Pregnant Women Should Avoid Cats
Since cats carry toxic germs, I should get rid of my cat while I’m pregnant, right?
The old misconception that cats can transmit toxoplasmosis to pregnant women–who can then in turn transmit that to their fetus and cause miscarriage or birth defects–is just that–a misconception. Unfortunately, it’s still one of the most common pregnancy myths.
Fortunately, you don’t have to give your cats away or keep them outside. In fact, it’s better to keep them inside.
First of all, cats aren’t the only animals who can transmit toxoplasmosis–they’re just the only species who can transmit it through their feces.
Second, as long as your cat isn’t eating raw meat, birds, mice, or soil, the risk is low to nonexistent.
The only real precaution experts recommend is to wear gloves while changing your cat’s litter and keep your cats indoors, if possible.
Pregnancy Myth #10: Certain Foods & Drinks Can Induce Labor
If I’m far along in my pregnancy and I eat spicy foods, I can induce labor, right?
Maybe, but probably not.
Most, if not all stories of certain foods or drinks inducing labor are anecdotal and have no basis in scientific fact, research, or knowledge. There are no known, medically or scientifically accepted foods or drinks that induce labor.
Before you try any herbal or natural methods to induce labor, be sure to talk to your doctor or OBGYN. The FDA does not regulate these in the same way they review and assess foods, drinks, and medicines.
Pregnancy Myth #11: After Delivery, You No Longer Need to See Your OB/GYN
Once I deliver a healthy baby and I’m deemed to be in good health, I no longer need to meet with my OBGYN, right?
In fact, it’s more important than ever to continue with regular appointments!
Your OBGYN will want to screen for things like breast, cervical, and ovarian cancer, as well as perform routine postnatal checkups. We can also listen to your concerns, answer your questions, dispel pregnancy myths and misconceptions, and help you along any and all stages of your pregnancy–and your life.
As a trusted, local partner, we’re here for you every step of the way!