Tommy's PregnancyHub

10 pregnancy myths

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

1. You can exercise during pregnancy

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 dye your hair

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 don't need to eat for two

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 fly

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 have sex (if you want to) 

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 don't have to be glowing and happy all the time

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 wont necessarily have strange cravings

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 eat sushi

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 touch cats

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. Morning sickness does not only happen in the morning

Pregnancy sickness is often at its worst when you first wake up, which is why it is called morning sickness, but it can happen at any time of day.

If you can’t keep any food or drink down, or you are worried at all about pregnancy sickness, see your midwife or doctor. You may have a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum.

  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.aspx (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-avoid-some-types-of-fish.aspx (accessed 23/03/2018)
  7. Bauer A, Parsonage M, Knapp M, Iemmi V, Adelaja B, ‘The costs of perinatal mental health problems’, LSE PSSRU:  https://bit.ly/2U3L2LG
Review dates

Last reviewed: 10 April 2018
Next review: 10 April 2021