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Pregnancy Myths and Facts

When you’re pregnant, the list of dos and don’ts can seem daunting. Friends, relatives and even strangers will offer advice about what you should and shouldn’t eat, drink or do. Social media is also rife with misinformation. It’s important to be skeptical and verify the information before changing your habits. Read on for the facts behind some common pregnancy myths.

Myth: It's OK to drink a glass of wine when you're pregnant.

Pregnancy is a time to abstain. There’s no safe amount of alcohol, and it’s also a myth that a drink early in pregnancy wont’ affect a fetus.

Myth: Pregnant women shouldn't drink coffee.

Good news for coffee fans. You can have your latte. But moderation is still important. In the first trimester, excessive amounts of coffee have been linked to a higher risk of miscarriage. So a cup is fine – but watch those sizes at coffee chains which are much larger than a serving.

Myth: Dyeing your hair is harmful for the baby.

There is no evidence that the components found on products used for hair dyeing reach the baby or have the potential to cause harm.

Myth: Carrying a baby high or low indicates its gender.

There’s no evidence that belly shape is related to gender. A similar myth is that baby’s heart rate – high or low – is related to gender. This has also been debunked. A high heart rate means the baby is moving a lot, a low rate means baby is likely sleeping.

Myth: Applying cocoa butter to your belly prevents stretch marks.

Cocoa butter hasn’t been found to prevent stretch marks, as a matter of fact, no proven remedies have been found to prevent them Keeping your skin well moisturized will help prevent the itching associated with stretch marks. Some of this marks will improve and fade after your baby is born.

Myth: What you eat while pregnant influences what foods your baby will like.

There’s no evidence to back this claim, but a healthy diet and good nutrition does help your baby get off to a good start.

Myth: Pregnant women shouldn't eat hot dogs.

Hot dogs got a bad rap due to nitrites, but an occasional hotdog is fine – as long as it’s well cooked to avoid the risk of listeria, which can also be a concern for unpasteurized cheeses and deli meats.

Myth: Pregnant women shouldn't eat fish.

The types of seafood pregnant women should avoid include large predatory fish like shark and swordfish, because they may contain high levels of mercury which can accumulate in your blood stream and damage baby’s brain and nervous system. Other types of seafood, including shellfish, are fine and can be a good source of protein, iron and zinc, as well as omega-3 fatty acids which are good for brain development.

Myth: Pregnant women shouldn’t clean cat litter boxes.

This risk here is of contracting toxoplasmosis from handling cat litter, but it is fairly rare in America for women to contract toxoplasmosis this way. If your cat goes outside and hunt prey, have someone else take care of the litter, if your cat stays indoor and only eats cat food, your risk of toxoplasmosis is very low. It’s actually more common for women to get toxoplasmosis from not properly washing garden vegetables after a cat has pooped in the garden. That’s also why women are told to wear gloves while gardening.

Myth: Intercourse during pregnancy hurts the baby.

A little anatomy lesson helps dispel this myth. Your baby is floating inside essentially a large balloon, and that balloon is surrounded by thick muscle, which is the uterus. In fact, the uterus is thicker at the bottom, so your baby is completely shielded from sex.

Myth: Eating spicy foods will induce labor.

If this were true, we would probably be warning pre-term women not to eat spicy foods, or giving full-term women a side of salsa and chips to get labor going. But we don’t because there’s no evidence that any type of food can induce labor.

We can’t cover all the myths you might come across. When in doubt, check with your OB/GYN or primary care provider. He or she is the best source of information that will keep you and your baby safe and healthy.

CHI Health Women's Health Team
CHI Health Women's Health Team

These blogs written by the CHI Health Women's Health Team.

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