Pregnancy is a golden phase of a woman’s life. But as soon as you announce your pregnancy to your near and dear ones, you will be bombarded with a plethora of advice related to pregnancy dos and don’ts.
In addition, books, magazines, TV programs and the Internet are full of advice.
Given an overload of advice, one wonders what to follow and what to disregard.
You cannot follow advice blindly, as it can affect your health as well as your baby’s. Some theories can be helpful, while some can be harmful.
It is important to know the real facts behind commonly held pregnancy myths. Moreover, always bear in mind that every pregnancy is different, so follow your doctor’s advice above anything else.
Here are 10 pregnancy myths that you should know about.
Myth #1: Eating for Two
Pregnant women often believe that they should eat more during pregnancy because, after all, “You’re eating for two.”
Fact: This is not at all true. During pregnancy, a woman simply needs to focus on eating healthy and highly nutritious food. A pregnant woman only needs about 300 extra calories per day.
If you eat for two, you will gain an unhealthy amount of weight, which will increase your risk of gestational diabetes, backaches, high blood pressure and potentially needing a cesarean birth because your baby is very large.
Moreover, extra weight gain increases the risk of your baby having a low IQ, eating disorders and psychosis.
Eat healthy by including high-quality protein (eggs, meat, fish, beans and pulses), lots of green vegetables, fruits and carbohydrates (unrefined) in your diet.
Myth #2: Refrain from Exercise
You might hear that pregnant women should avoid exercise and rest as much as possible during the nine months.
Fact: This is again not true. Even doctors ask pregnant women to regularly enjoy a short walk, get some light exercise and do some light house work. However, it is true that you must avoid very rigorous activities or workouts.
Women who stay active during pregnancy tend to have shorter labors, less chance of postpartum depression and sleep better than those who don’t. Also, exercising while you’re pregnant will keep your body fit and help you regain your prepregnancy shape faster after delivery.
A 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that physical exercise during pregnancy offers major physiological benefits for both mother and baby.
Walking, swimming, low-impact aerobics and cycling on a stationary bike are some good exercises for pregnant women. Always warm up, stretch and cool down before and after a workout session.
No matter what, avoid any kind of intense exercise.
Myth #3: Backaches are Unavoidable
Pregnancy means you will have to suffer through backaches and other pains.
Fact: Backaches are a frequent complaint during pregnancy, but it’s nothing that you cannot treat or prevent.
Your lower back may hurt during pregnancy due to weight gain, posture changes and relaxed muscles. But it can be easily minimized if you maintain a correct posture by keeping your spine straight. Avoid arching your back by pulling your shoulders back but not your abdomen.
Exercise can also help prevent and ease back pain. A 2016 study published in Physiotherapy reports that exercise is an effective treatment for managing pregnancy-related lower back pain.
Do pelvic floor exercises to stretch your back muscles and keep your back free from pain.
Also, avoid wearing high heels and lifting heavy objects.
Myth #4: Do Not Keep Cats at Home
Many say that you should stay away from your pet cat during pregnancy.
Fact: It is again just a myth that you cannot keep a cat as a pet when you are pregnant. Cats are lovely pets and their funny activities can help reduce stress and bring a smile to your face.
If you have a cat at home, there is one thing you need to keep in mind. You shouldn’t change your cat’s litter box during pregnancy, due to the risk of toxoplasmosis from the feline waste that is filled with millions of parasites.
Toxoplasmosis can increase the risk of miscarriage or stillbirth. The infection can even cause deformities in the developing fetus.
So, ask your partner or a friend to clean the litter box, and you just enjoy your pet cat. Also, after playing with your furry friend, thoroughly wash your hands.
Myth #5: Do Not Take Hot Baths
Many people advise pregnant ladies not to take baths like you might have enjoyed before you became pregnant.
Fact: Taking a lukewarm bath for five minutes is not a problem, but a long hot bath is something you must avoid during pregnancy.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that becoming overheated in a hot tub is not recommended during pregnancy. In fact, pregnant women should never allow their core body temperature to rise above 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sitting in a hot bath for a long time can cause your body temperature to rise. This in turn increases the risk of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. Heat can also lower your blood pressure a bit too much.
Also, staying too long in hot water may increase the risk of dehydration and dizziness.
Myth #6: An Occasional Drink is Fine
Have you been told it’s okay to have a drink of wine occasionally during pregnancy?
Fact: Pregnant women should not drink at all. In fact, while pregnant, you should not even indulge in a few sips during a champagne toast or an occasional glass of wine.
Several studies have linked drinking during pregnancy with an increased risk of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Also, it puts your baby at an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say that pregnant woman should completely avoid alcohol during pregnancy.
Any amount of alcohol at any time during pregnancy can harm the baby’s developing brain and other organs. So, abstain from drinking altogether.
Myth #7: Carrying High Means It’s a Girl
One of the most common myths that surround pregnancy is the shape of a woman’s stomach and what it means. It is said that when a woman is carrying high, it indicates she’s having a baby girl. Conversely, if she is carrying low, it is a boy.
Fact: Again, there is no scientific basis for this assumption. The shape and size of a pregnant belly depends on several other factors, such as the shape of your uterus, your unique body type and your abdominal muscles.
Also, the position of the fetus, posture and the amount of fat deposited around the abdomen determine the shape of your pregnant belly.
If you want to know the gender of your unborn baby, your doctor can tell you as soon as you are far enough along in your pregnancy.
Myth #8: The Fetal Heart Rate Indicates a Baby’s Gender
Another universal myth about gender revolves around your baby’s heart rate. It is believed that if the baby’s heart rate is fast, it means it is a baby girl, while a slow heart rate means it is a baby boy.
Fact: Again, there is no scientific explanation behind this widely popular notion. The heart rate of the fetus changes throughout the pregnancy and is dependent upon the health and age of the growing fetus in your womb.
A 2006 study published in Fetal Diagnosis and Therapy that analyzed heart rates during the first trimester found that contrary to beliefs commonly held by many pregnant women and their families, there were no significant differences between male and female fetal heart rates.
Myth #9: Heartburn Means Your Baby Will Have Lots of Hair
You may have read that pregnant women who have heartburn will have babies who have lots of hair on their heads after birth.
Fact: There could be some truth to this popular belief. Heartburn is a common pregnancy symptom and is due to acid reflux. Eating spicy food can often cause heartburn.
Scientifically, heartburn has nothing to do with your baby’s hair. However, according to a 2006 study published in Birth, there is a correlation between the severity of a pregnant woman’s heartburn and the amount of hair her baby has upon birth. The researchers point out that the same hormones that cause heartburn may also aid in modulation of fetal hair growth.
However, it is also true that women who suffer a lot from heartburn have given birth to bald babies.
Myth #10: Craving Salty Foods Means It’s a Boy & Sugary Foods Means It’s a Girl
According to some, cravings for salty foods indicate a boy is expected, while sugar cravings indicate the baby is a girl.
Fact: There is no scientific research supporting the theory that certain food cravings have any correlation to the sex of a baby.
Cravings during pregnancy refer to the intense urges to eat particular foods. But it is still not known why pregnant women get an urge for specific tastes, textures or flavor combinations.
Some experts believe that it can be due to the rapidly changing hormones in a pregnant woman’s body. It can also happen due to the extra work your body is doing to support the new life growing inside your womb.
Cravings cannot predict the gender of the unborn baby, but you can enjoy these mythical gender predictions just for fun.