If you’re pregnant, particularly for the first time, you’ll likely get plenty of unsolicited advice and hear lots of old wives’ tales. Some of the advice may be pretty sound, and some of it is complete nonsense.
You've probably heard this one: “Carry high, it's a girl. Carry low, it's a boy.” Some myths about pregnancy prompt unnecessary worry while others can pose real health complications for the mother or baby.
Let’s take a look at some popular pregnancy myths:
Eating for two: You're eating for two, but that doesn't mean two adult-sized servings are necessary. The average woman with a normal weight pre-pregnancy needs only about 300 extra calories per day to promote her baby's growth, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. That's roughly the number of calories in a glass of skim milk and half of a sandwich. A woman of normal weight should gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy -- less if she's overweight.
Skip the coffee: If a pregnant woman drinks less than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day -- the amount in about one 12-ounce cup of coffee -- there's no clear evidence she faces any increased risk of miscarriage or low birth weight.
No hair dyes or manicures: Chemicals from hair dye, permanents, and relaxers are absorbed through the skin only in minimal amounts that aren't harmful. Also, getting your nails done is safe – no need to avoid manicures or pedicures during pregnancy!
No air travel during the first and third trimester of pregnancy: False. You can fly whenever you want. Also, the kind of radiation you're exposed to during travel (from airport security body scanners) doesn't significantly penetrate the body, so it's unlikely to ever cause fetal exposure. Women who have coexisting lung or cardiac problems when they're pregnant, however, should ask their doctor before they get on a plane. It’s also important to note that most airlines do not allow pregnant women to fly after 36 weeks. We recommend that you do not fly at that time so that you don’t deliver while in another city.
Don't pet your cat during pregnancy: False. However, you shouldn’t change your cat’s litter box during pregnancy because of exposure to toxoplasmosis, a parasitic disease that can be transmitted from cat feces.
Don’t eat fish: Eating two servings of fish per week can be healthy for mom and baby. Coldwater fish, in particular, contains lots of omega-3 fatty acids, which help with your baby's brain development and vision. You should try to avoid fish high in mercury, such as swordfish, shark, tilefish, and king mackerel. Salmon, shrimp, and canned light tuna are better choices. Pregnant women can eat as much fish as they want, so feel free to enjoy two or more servings a week.
No hot baths: Stay away from saunas or Jacuzzis, which can raise your body temperature over 102 degrees. Otherwise, hot baths are a relaxing necessity during pregnancy!