Pregnancy: Myths and Facts

Rubina Acharya, RN

Pregnancy is an exciting time. It’s also one of dramatic changes, both physically and mentally. Pregnancy is a process and series of changes that take place in a woman’s organs and tissues as a result of a developing fetus. The entire process from fertilization to birth takes an average of 266–270 days, or about nine months.

You have to eat for two:

In fact, there’s no evidence to prove this myth and overeating can result in maternal weight gain and child obesity. Your baby will get everything they need from you for the first six months without you needing any extra calories. Once you get to the last trimester, you may need about 200 extra calories (on top of the 2,000 daily recommendation), per day.

You can’t drink caffeine while pregnant:

In the past, pregnant women were advised to abstain from caffeine while pregnant, but recent studies show that moderate amounts are safe, as long as a few precautions are taken. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and other experts report that pregnant women can safely consume up to 200 milligrams of caffeine a day equivalent to a 12-ounce cup of coffee each day.
Remember that more than 200ml of caffeine a day can increase your risk of a miscarriage since caffeine can penetrate the placenta barrier, so be careful not to exceed your limit. Caffeine is also present in many sodas and chocolates so be extra mindful of them as well.

You can’t exercise while pregnant:

Exercising is a good practice for you, your baby’s health, and your mental health. If you worked out before getting pregnant and are accustomed to your routine, continue your exercise program once you’ve consulted with your healthcare provider. Just avoid any new, strenuous activities like holding your breath, excessive bouncing or stretching, jumping, bouncing, and sudden jerk motions, advanced abdominal moves, and hot environments like hot yoga.

Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity for at least five days of the week (or a total of 150 minutes per week), all throughout your pregnancy. If you were not very active before you became pregnant, start with gentle exercises, like walking and low impact, at-home exercises.

You’ll have weird cravings:

Not all pregnant women have strange and urgent cravings. Cravings are often triggered by hormonal changes in your body which affect taste and smell. Also, sharp dips and peaks in your blood sugar levels can give you cravings for sugary, comfort foods. But these hormonal and blood sugar variations are different from person to person. In fact, a lack of cravings doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you or the baby. If you don’t crave fatty or sugary foods, count yourself blessed! You’re better able to make healthier meal choices throughout your pregnancy.

If you crave inedible things like dirt, clay or laundry detergent, call your doctor or midwife. This is known as Pica and can be a sign of severe anemia that needs to be immediately addressed.

Morning sickness is just a morning thing:

More than 70% of women experience nausea and/or vomiting during pregnancy. However, this sick feeling isn’t limited to morning hours but can occur at any time of day since it’s a result of periodic hormonal changes. For most women, morning sickness improves after the first trimester, but during those first three months, there are simple ways to care for yourself. While it might be tempting to skip meals, some women feel better after eating frequent, small snacks of dry cereal or toast or crackers

Do not color your hair:

It is perfectly fine to dye your hair and get your nails done, assuming the salon you choose is clean.
However, if the fumes are overwhelming when you enter, it is probably not the best place to be — especially since pregnancy can increase your sensitivity to chemical smells.

Heartburn is related to hair growth in babies:

There is hardly any evidence of this saying, as it cannot be proved medically. Pregnant women face issues of heartburn which can arise out of many factors like hormonal imbalance, etc. However, it is still not proved that excessive heartburn would mean that the baby will have thick hair is still a myth.

The myths surrounding culture and religion are numerous. Be diligent and seek the appropriate information from your gynecologist or midwives.

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