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.