Most myths about pregnancy cannot be backed up with facts, a few of them may be worth your consideration.
As you can probably guess, a lot happens during the roughly 40 weeks of pregnancy. You may expect some of the changes that occur during this time, but others may seem fascinating or even surprising.
Forming a new human being is the most complicated thing a person can do without really having to think about it. But that doesn’t mean women don’t fret over it.
Pregnancy is a natural part of life, a momentous event that humanity has experienced for centuries. As a result, a lot of information about pregnancy has been learned, and a lot has been passed down over the years from generation to generation. But how much of that is really fact and how much of it is simply “old wives’ tales?”
While most myths about pregnancy cannot be backed up with facts, a few of them may be worth your consideration.
For the sake of clarity – and sleeping easier at night – here are seven of the most common myths about pregnancy.
#1 Myth: The shape of your belly and the fetal heart rate can predict the gender of your baby.
It is believed that if your belly is lying low, then you will have a boy, and you will have a girl if your belly is lying high. It is also said that a fast fetal heart rate indicates a girl, and a slow fetal heart rate indicates a boy.
But alas, there is no science to back this up. It’s a myth that you can tell a baby’s gender based on momma’s stomach shape. The line on the skin stretching below the navel is no clue to whether your baby’s a boy or girl. You just can’t tell from outside the womb. On the upside, if you do try, you’ve got a 50% shot of getting it right.
Fact: The elevation of the belly is entirely dependent on various physiological factors of the woman.
These include your muscle tone, the strength of your abdomen muscles, number of childbirths, the position of the body and the structure of your uterine muscles.
Actually, stomach muscles stretch with subsequent pregnancies. So, if a woman’s belly is higher up, it probably just means she has strong abdominal muscles or it’s her first pregnancy.
As for the fetal heart rate, it varies throughout your pregnancy, based on your baby’s health and age. Normal fetal heart rate for all babies in utero ranges from 120 to 160 beats per minute. You’ll have to wait for the ultrasound or birth to find out the gender.
#2 Myth: You must eat for two.
A popular notion present in most societies that you will be eating for two when you get pregnant.
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.
Fact: The exact quantity of calories depends on the weight, height, level of activity of the women, as well as the trimester of pregnancy.
The reality is that most pregnant women will only need an additional 300 calories in their daily diet (on top of the 2,000 daily recommendation) to promote a baby’s growth, and that’s only in the third trimester. That equates to a glass of milk and half of a sandwich.
In fact, moms should only gain 25 to 30 pounds during pregnancy, and less than that if they are overweight or obese at the beginning of pregnancy.
Take a look at these 200 calorie recipes for your final trimester.
#3 Myth: You can't touch cats.
Are cats really so dangerous for preggo mommas as the folk belief says?
Fact: Well, this is a partial fact!
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).
Cats are totally fine for momma and baby, BUT litter boxes can be dangerous. Litter boxes can spread something called toxoplasmosis, which is a disease that can cause birth defects. 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 afterward 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.
But this is good news for momma! You now have a legitimate excuse to not clean the litter box for a whole nine months!
Are you a dog lover? Well, no worries, luckily or unluckily cleaning up after the pup is totally okay.
#4 Myth: Pregnant women shouldn’t exercise.
Running, swimming, zumbaing–are they ok for pregnant mommas? Common folk beliefs claim that exercise during pregnancy can strangle the baby, or otherwise harm the baby and cause miscarriage or induce premature labor.
Fact: Sadly, there is no excuse not to go to the gym even when you are pregnant.
Exercise is great for pregnant ladies and can help women stay limber and strong for labor.
Healthy women who have previously been participating in these activities can continue to do so through most of their pregnancy (although at a somewhat reduced pace that should be discussed with their physician), and ease-up as they get closer to the delivery date.
Women who have not participated in these activities prior to getting pregnant should start slowly, and only work up to it under physician supervision.
Appropriate exercise will strengthen your back and joints, increase blood flow to the baby and prepare your body for childbirth. Now–don’t go crazy. No bungee jumping or rock climbing. Falling isn’t great for the baby, but being active is!
#5 Myth: You will be glowing and happy all the time.
Fact: At least 1 in 10 expectant moms 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.
The pregnancy glow myth, however, has some truth to it. During pregnancy, there is increased blood flow in your body, which keeps your skin moisturized and nourished. This, paired with a surge in hormones can contribute to a healthier and brighter looking skin.
Still, not every woman is lucky to experience this. Many women also face acne breakouts and other skin problems that may leave their skin looking and feeling worse. The consolation is that most of these conditions rescind after pregnancy.
#6 Myth: Pregnant women should not take a bath too often.
Pregnant women are often advised not to bathe regularly.
Fact: This myth has absolutely no foundation at all.
Bathing keeps you clean and free of germs that may harm your baby. It is a good hygiene practice and should be followed during pregnancy just as you would follow it on other days.
However, do not take very hot showers, as it could raise your body temperature and lead to developmental problems in the baby.
Can a pregnant mom relax in a steaming hot tub or sauna? Unfortunately, nope. Saunas, jacuzzis and hot baths are not safe for soon to be moms.
As a general rule, avoid bathing in water hot enough to raise your body temperature over 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit. The water temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit is considered safe for pregnant women.
Anything that raises a mom’s body temperature above 102.2 degrees is risky for the baby. At high temperatures, that bambino can get too hot and you as the momma may run the risk of fainting! I love me a good bath, but it’s just too hot for the little one!
#7 Myth: You shouldn’t have sex during pregnancy
It is believed that sex during pregnancy can cause miscarriage or may even induce labor.
Fact: Sex will do you no harm, as long as you’re enjoying a healthy pregnancy.
Sex does not induce labor. Physicians can assure you it is completely safe to engage in intercourse with your partner during pregnancy – provided it is done in a position that does not put a lot of pressure on your tummy.
Your baby is within an amniotic sac that keeps it well-protected. In addition to this, your cervix also has a mucous plug to help guard your baby against infections.
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.
However, doctors may advise you against it if you have complications like placenta praevia, a dilated cervix, cervical insufficiency, ruptured membranes, abnormal discharge, and if you are at the risk of premature labor.
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.
There’s so much to learn about pregnancy and still many unknowns. If you are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant, work with your doctor. They can help you come up with a plan for a healthy pregnancy and delivery and can answer any questions you have about symptoms, complications, and what to expect.