10 pregnancy myths busted

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

Rule #1: Though shalt not exercise

As tempting as it can be to declare a state of hibernation, it’s actually a good idea to stay active during pregnancy (for you, your birth and your baby). It’s safe and healthy and so long as your pregnancy is normal you can do what you did before you were pregnant (with a few unusual exceptions). Gym bunnies and runners - keep up the good work (but listen to your body too). If you’re not that into sports, start with gentle exercise, such as walking, and build it up. Find out more here.

Rule #2: Thou shalt not 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.  

Rule #3: Thou shalt 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 big fat myth. You only need to consume a meagre 200 extra calories (on top of the 2000 daily recommendation for women), and that’s only in your third trimester. Let’s face it though, growing a baby can be hungry work and grazing helps ease morning sickness. So try to choose healthy snacks. Take a look at our 200 calorie recipes for your final trimester. 

Rule #4: Thou shalt not fly

Worried about booking a baby-moon? 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. 

Rule #5: Thou shalt not have sex

A little nookie will do you no harm, as long as you’re enjoying a healthy pregnancy. For some lucky ladies, 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 chat to your midwife if you have any concerns,  if you've experienced bleeding, have a low lying placenta or cervical weakness, which may mean you need to abstain.

Rule #6: Thou shalt feel glowing and happy 

As many as one in 10 expectant mums feel stressed and anxious. 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 anxieties, are getting in the way of daily life, don’t hesitate to talk to your midwife.

Our handy Wellbeing Plan helps you work through your feelings, and can be downloaded here. You can fill it in and bring it to your midwife, or fill it out together.

Rule #7: Thou shalt have strange cravings

Contrary to popular opinion, not all mums-to-be have a penchant for pickles, or other random foods. If, however, you do - that’s normal too (we won’t judge). 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 leave you hankering after sugary, comfort foods (hence the cake/ice cream/chocolate addiction). If you ever crave dirt, clay or laundry detergent, get in touch with your midwife. As crazy as it sounds, this is known as Pica - and can be a sign of severe anaemia. 

Rule #8: Thou shalt not eat sushi

Sushi lovers rejoice: it’s fine to eat throughout your pregnancy, as 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 (sounds tasty), which 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. 

Rule #9: Thou shalt not stroke 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.  

Rule #10: Thou shalt not drink coffee

Before you start weeping into your mocha latte - relax. You don’t need to rule out caffeine completely but the NHS recommends limiting 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.

Check your normal intake using our caffeine calculator

Read more about pregnancy

Sources

  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 13 February 2015)
  2. NHS Start4Life 'Pregnancy Myth #9 'you can't fly to another country' http://www.nhs.uk/start4life/Pages/pregnancy-myth-nine.aspx (accessed 13 February 2015)
  3. NHS Choices 'Sex in pregnancy' http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/sex-in-pregnancy.a...(accessed 13 February 2015)
  4. NHS Choices 'Symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia' http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Anaemia-iron-deficiency-/Pages/Symptoms.aspx (accessed 13 February 2015)
  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 13 February 2015)
  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 13 February 2015)
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Last reviewed on February 1st, 2015. Next review date February 1st, 2018.

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