Being pregnant is a wonderful time but it can also be confusing. Your body is changing in so many ways and it can start to feel like it’s no longer your own. Add to that an ever-expanding list of things that you should or shouldn’t do and it’s enough to send your stress levels soaring! Thankfully, not all the things you hear from your mother’s sister’s cousin, or your neighbour down the road, are true. Here are our top ten pregnancy myths.
Stress in pregnancy is bad
If all the dos and don’ts of pregnancy are giving you a headache don’t fear. New research shows that some stress can actually be good for your unborn child. Women who experienced moderate stress while pregnant had babies who had more developed brains. The same babies had higher motor and mental development scores when they reached two years old.
Exercise should be avoided
The most important thing during pregnancy is to stay healthy and active. Although you shouldn’t start an extreme exercise programme whilst pregnant, if you’re used to working out, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t carry on throughout your pregnancy. Exercise can also be beneficial for the foetus. Women who regularly exercise during pregnancy were shown to have babies with slower and more variable heart rates, both signs of physical health.
However, contact and risky sports should be avoided during pregnancy.
You must eat for two
Eating for two is the quickest way to end up gaining an unhealthy amount of weight during the nine months. Most women only need an extra 200 calories to sustain a healthy foetus and even then, that’s only in the third trimester. Step away from the double chocolate chip muffins!
You will have cravings for strange food
Contrary to popular opinion, not all pregnant women crave weird food. Some experience no cravings whatsoever and others find they actually go off some food, especially during the first trimester. IF you experience a craving for odd things such as dirt, charcoal or clay, speak to your healthcare practitioner as this can be a sign of severe anemia.
All pregnant women are happy and glowing
Pregnancy can be a joyous time. Feeling those first flutters of your baby’s kicks and preparing to meet your new arrival is wonderful. However, it can also be difficult. Psychiatrists estimate up to 20% of women experience depression during pregnancy and many more will suffer from intense mood swings. Be kind to yourself, your body is going through a lot right now and remember, it’s not forever.
You can’t touch cats
There’s absolutely no reason why you can’t still snuggle up with your feline friend when you’re pregnant. Research has shown that there isn’t an increased risk of Toxoplasmosis just from interacting with your cat. You should, however, take extra care and even consider wearing gloves when dealing with your cat’s litter tray as this is where the bacteria that cause the infection lives. To be totally safe, this might be something you can delegate to your partner while pregnant.
You can’t dye your hair
Some studies have shown that hair dye has toxic ingredients however, the research found you would have to use these in very high quantities – far more than is in a normal colouring quantity – to have any effect on an unborn baby.
If you want to err on the side of caution, wait until after the first trimester to colour your hair, always wear gloves and make sure you do the treatment in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling too many fumes.
You’ll only feel sick during the first 12 weeks
Unfortunately, pregnancy can be a tough time for many women. The common misconception that nausea only lasts for 12 weeks isn’t helpful if you’re still struggling with it at 16 weeks. A small number of women will experience nausea all the way through to the third trimester and that is still considered normal as every pregnancy is different. The best ways to alleviate your symptoms are to eat small meals throughout the day, keep dry crackers or biscuits handy for when the nausea hits and try ginger tea which some pregnant women swear by. For more tips on how to combat nausea see BabyCenter’s guide.
You can’t drink coffee
Whilst it’s not advisable to drink four shots of double espresso when you’re expecting, you can still enjoy a cup of joe to start your day. NICE guidelines in the UK suggest a limit of 200mg of caffeine a day, which is enough for a normal filter coffee. Beware though of caffeine in other foods. Chocolate is a big one that contains more caffeine than most people realise.
You can’t take any medication if you feel unwell
Some medications can cause complications during pregnancy however, other over the counter remedies are perfectly safe. Paracetamol is one drug that’s proven to be safe for mum and baby, although you should still consult your health practitioner before taking any medications when pregnant.