Fact or Fiction: Debunking 10 Common Pregnancy Myths

Pregnancy is a time when you get a lot of unsolicited advice from all around. Since you want to ensure that nothing comes in the way of a healthy pregnancy, you often fall prey to a lot of the well- intended but ill- informed advice. It’s a good idea to arm yourself with knowledge and learn to separate facts from fiction and truth from myths.

Pregnancy Myth #1 You need to abstain from sex all through pregnancy

Truth: Sexual intercourse doesn’t physically hurt the baby, who is fully protected by the amniotic sac and strong uterine muscles. Hence, if there are no complications or medical advice to go against, couples need not abstain from sex. Of course, with the hormonal changes and growing abdomen, the woman may feel discomfort in some positions or may feel too fatigued to be in the mood for sex during certain periods of the pregnancy. You may also be advised to go easy in case of risk of miscarriage or preterm labour or if there’s unexplained vaginal bleeding.

Pregnancy Myth #2 You cannot work out if you are pregnant

Truth: As long as there are no complications, it is perfectly fine to continue exercising. In fact, low impact exercises such as walking and swimming are beneficial to you and the baby by improving blood circulation, keeping your blood pressure and sugar levels in check besides alleviating pains and aches associated with pregnancy. The underlying advice is to keep up with what you were doing and not overdo things. Always listen to your body, pregnant or not.

Pregnancy Myth #3 You need to eat for two when you are pregnant

Truth: Contrary to popular belief, you are not required to eat for two while you are pregnant. All that you need to do is to take are healthy, well-balanced meals at regular intervals. Starting from the second trimester, you must aim to take an additional 300 calories per day to boost the baby’s growth. Your doctor will be able to guide you with the weight that you should gain during pregnancy. Excessive weight gain during pregnancy is hard to shake off later and may lead to pregnancy complications.

Pregnancy Myth #4 Morning sickness hits only in the morning

Truth: Morning sickness is a misnomer because you can feel nauseous through the day. However, the nausea and vomiting does feel worst in the morning, because you have an empty stomach and there is a huge build-up of acid in the gut through the night.

Pregnancy Myth #5 You should not fly during pregnancy

Truth: As long as the pregnancy is healthy and without complications and you feel up to it, there is no medical reason why you should not take that last trip before delivery. Most airlines though, either do not allow or require a letter from your gynae certifying that you are fit to fly, after 28 weeks. This is because of the risk of delivering mid-air and the probable lack of medical support, in case, such a need arises.

Pregnancy Myth #6 Manicures and pedicures are unsafe during pregnancy

Truth: No! You need prolonged exposure to the nail varnish and other products or breathe in too much of chemical fumes to risk any adverse effects on you or your baby. A weekly pedicure cannot harm you or the baby. So, get those nails varnished and feel good!

Pregnancy Myth #7: Pregnancy is only a joyful experience and you should feel elated all the time

Truth: Once the exhilaration of expecting goes down, the woman herself may find that she is going through bouts of anxiety, depression and even sadness. Contrary to what is believed, the play of hormones, the impending responsibility (especially if you have another child), the restriction of activities and the pregnancy side-effects can all add up and  play havoc with one’s mental wellbeing. About 10% of pregnant women are said to go through aggravated sense of despondence described as perinatal blues and may require counselling and medical attention.

Pregnancy Myth #8: It is unsafe to take any seafood during pregnancy

Truth: Seafood provides key nutrients such as protein, iron and zinc and Omega-3 fatty acids that are crucial for a baby’s development. Fatty fish is also naturally lower in saturated fats and cholesterol making it a healthy food choice during pregnancy. Safe choices include salmon, cod, tilapia and other fishes that are low in mercury.

However, it is prudent to avoid raw fish and fish that contains high mercury such as swordfish, shark, king mackerel and bluefin tuna. Eating raw fish can expose the baby to mercury, as well as to other harmful bacteria  and parasites. High levels of mercury may cause birth defects and complications. In the same vein, it is also advisable to avoid other raw meat, soft cheese, soft ice cream serves and partly cooked eggs.

Pregnancy Myth #9: Eating peanuts or dairy can make your baby allergic to these foods

Truth: A long as you are not allergic to these foods, it is perfectly safe to consume them. There is no evidence that cutting out some foods from your diet will prevent your baby from being allergic to them.

Pregnancy Myth #10: It’s okay to have alcohol in moderation, while pregnant

Truth: There is no safe amount of alcohol and even moderate intake can cause pregnancy complications, harm the baby and can cause life-long problems in him/her. Alcohol in the mother’s blood crosses the placenta freely and enters the embryo or foetus through the umbilical cord. Regular consumption of alcohol during pregnancy can also lead to FASD, a disorder characterized by growth retardation, facial abnormalities, and central nervous system dysfunction (CNS). Alcohol-related congenital disabilities are entirely preventable.

Finally, it is most important to listen to your doctor’s advice and your own instincts for a healthy pregnancy.