10 pregnancy myths

You don’t need to kick your caffeine habit completely. Flying is fine. And sex actually gets better (for some). The truth behind 10 of the most misunderstood pregnancy myths.

1. You can't exercise

This is a complete myth.

It’s better for you and your baby if you stay active during pregnancy. It’s safe and healthy. So long as your pregnancy has no complications you can do the same exercise that you did before you were pregnant (with a few unusual exceptions).

If you were not very active before you became pregnant, start with gentle exercise, such as walking, and build it up.

Find out more about exercise in pregnancy.

2. You can't dye your hair

Thankfully you’re not condemned to nine months of bad hair days.

Research (though limited) shows it’s safe to colour your hair in pregnancy. You’d need to use seriously high doses of the chemicals - far more than needed to colour your hair - to cause harm.  

Read more about hair dye and pregnancy.

3. You must eat for two

Before you start going down the route of ‘one for me and one for the baby’, you should probably know that this is a myth.

Most women will only only need to have 200 extra calories (on top of the 2,000 daily recommendation), and that’s only in the third trimester. 

Take a look at our 200 calorie recipes for your final trimester.

4. You can't fly

Worried about booking a babymoon? Fear not.

Revel in the freedom of holidaying without youngsters while you can. Check the FAQs on your airline’s website - after week 28, you will  need a letter from your midwife to confirm your pregnancy is low risk and you’re in good health. Make sure that your travel insurance covers you in pregnancy and take your medical notes away with you. 

Read more about flying in pregnancy

5. You can't have sex

Sex will do you no harm, as long as you’re enjoying a healthy pregnancy.

For some lucky women, sex can actually be better than ever because of the increased blood flow in the pelvic area. Others might find the opposite (hormones can lower your libido). An orgasm, or sex itself, can sometimes trigger harmless Braxton Hicks contractions, but they’re nothing to worry about.

Never hesitate to talk to your midwife if you have any concerns. If you have had bleeding, have a low lying placenta or cervical weakness, you may need to abstain.

Find out more about sex in pregnancy.

6. You will be glowing and happy all the time

At least 1 in 10 expectant mums feel stressed and anxious during pregnancy.

Pregnancy hormones can often be to blame for highs and lows, not to mention coping with pregnancy niggles, the sometimes crippling exhaustion, worrying about giving birth and the responsibilities of parenthood. It can be pretty overwhelming, so if you’re not feeling the glow, you’re not alone - far from it. If your mood, or worries, are getting in the way of daily life, don’t hesitate to talk to your midwife.

Find out when you should talk to a midwife about anxiety or feeling down.

7. You will have strange cravings

Contrary to popular opinion, not all mums-to-be crave pickles, or other random foods.

Cravings can be triggered by hormonal changes in your body affecting taste and smell. Also sharp dips and peaks in your blood sugar levels can give you cravings for sugary, comfort foods (cake/ice cream/chocolate).

If you ever crave inedible things, such as dirt, clay or laundry detergent, get in touch with your midwife. This is known as Pica - and can be a sign of severe anaemia

8. You can't eat sushi

If you enjoyed sushi before pregnancy, you can continue to eat it.

Make sure it's long as it’s from a source you trust, and any raw fish has been previously frozen. Freezing the sushi kills the parasites - anisakis worms - that can make you poorly. Supermarket sushi is made in a factory and should have been frozen beforehand, while safety regulations require shops and restaurants to freeze any raw fish they use.

Sushi made with cooked shellfish, such as cooked crab, prawns, scallops or eel should be safe to eat too. Steer clear of marlin, swordfish and shark. 

Read about what foods to avoid in pregnancy.

9. You can't touch cats

Your furry friend is nothing to fear in pregnancy.

Recent studies show contact with cats doesn’t increase the risk of getting toxoplasmosis (an infection that can affect unborn babies). However, you do need to take care with cat litter - as this is where the parasite that causes it can live (in cat poo, to be exact).

Avoid cleaning the litter tray yourself. If needs must, wear gloves, wash your hands thoroughly afterwards and clean the tray daily (the parasite become infectious after one to five days). Take care in the garden too because your cat is likely to be using this as a secondary litter tray.  

10. You can't have any coffee

You don’t need to rule out caffeine completely.

NICE guidelines recommend that you limit yourself to no more than 200mg a day. Be careful though, this can be as little as a filter coffee and a bar of chocolate. More than 60% of women who checked their intake on our caffeine calculator were over the limit.

Check your intake using our caffeine calculator.

Read more about early pregnancy


  1. NHS Choices 'Is it safe to use hairdye when I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?' http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/949.aspx?CategoryID=54 (accessed 23/03/2018)
  2. NHS Choices ‘Travelling in pregnancy’ https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/travel-pregnant/ (accessed 05/04/2018)
  3. NHS Choices 'Sex in pregnancy' http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/sex-in-pregnancy.a...(accessed 23/03/2018)
  4. NHS Choices 'Symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia' http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Anaemia-iron-deficiency-/Pages/Symptoms.aspx (accessed 23/03/2018)
  5. NHS Choices 'Is it safe to eat sushi during pregnancy?' http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/is-it-safe-to-eat-sushi-during-pregnancy.aspx (accessed 23/03/2018)
  6. NHS Choices 'Should pregnant and breastfeeding women avoid some types of fish?' http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/should-pregnant-and-breastfeeding-women-avoi...(accessed 23/03/2018)
  7. Bauer A, Parsonage M, Knapp M, Iemmi V, Adelaja B, ‘The costs of perinatal mental health problems’, LSE PSSRU:  http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/59885/1/__lse.ac.uk_storage_LIBRARY_Secondary_l... (accessed 23/03/2018)
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    Last reviewed on April 10th, 2018. Next review date April 10th, 2021.

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    Please note that these comments are monitored but not answered by Tommy’s. Please call your GP or maternity unit if you have concerns about your health or your baby’s health.

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