Pregnancy Myths: 6 Misconceptions Debunked
Pregnancy is an exciting time but can also be a confusing and overwhelming experience. With so much advice and information available, it can be challenging to separate fact from fiction. Family, friends, and even strangers may offer opinions, ideas, and old wives’ tales that can cause unnecessary anxiety and confusion for expecting mothers.
To help debunk some common pregnancy myths, we have compiled a list of six misconceptions that have been proven false.
1. You should avoid fish due to high mercury levels
It is an often-repeated advice that pregnant women should avoid fish due to high levels of mercury. Although certain fish species contain high levels of mercury, there are also many fish types that are safe and recommended for pregnant women to consume.
Salmon, anchovies, herring, sardines, trout, pollack, catfish, and Atlantic and Pacific mackerel are low in mercury and rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for fetal brain and eye development. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pregnant women can safely eat 12 ounces (340 grams) of seafood each week.
2. Drinking coffee will cause a miscarriage or a preterm birth
For many years, expectant mothers were warned against consuming any coffee during pregnancy due to fears that it could cause severe birth complications. However, there is no scientific evidence that supports this theory.
The National Health Service (NHS) recommends that pregnant women should consume no more than 200 mg of caffeine per day, which is equivalent to two cups of coffee. This also includes caffeine found in chocolate, tea, and sodas.
3. Being pregnant means it is fine to double your calorie intake because you are eating for two
Pregnancy requires an increase in calorie intake, but this does not mean that expecting mothers should double their calorie intake because they are eating for two. Instead, they should aim for a healthy and balanced diet that provides adequate nutrition for themselves and their growing baby.
For an average-weight pregnant woman, a gain of 25 to 35 pounds is recommended, with an additional 300 healthy calories per day. However, every woman’s body type differs, and underweight women should gain 28 to 40 pounds, whereas overweight women should gain 15 to 25 pounds during pregnancy.
4. It is fine to drink a small amount of alcohol when you are pregnant
There is no safe level of alcohol intake during pregnancy. Alcohol consumed by a pregnant woman passes through her bloodstream to the baby through the umbilical cord, which can cause a risk of miscarriage and a range of mental and physical disorders known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). It is best to abstain from alcohol altogether during pregnancy to protect your baby’s health.
5. You should avoid cheese since it has a high risk of carrying food-borne illnesses
Unpasteurized cheese such as brie, feta, and goat cheese are definite no-no’s for pregnant women. However, pasteurized cheese is safe to consume during pregnancy. Cheese such as swiss and cheddar are perfectly fine and recommended for pregnant women. It is imperative to check the labels of any cheeses to ensure they are pasteurized.
6. Spicy food will induce labor
This old wives’ tale has been around for years. There is no direct connection between the uterus and the stomach, and eating spicy food will not induce labor. Although there are no particular foods, which can induce labor, and every pregnancy is different, some recommend going for a walk or trying acupuncture or nipple stimulation.
The growing list of dos and don’ts during pregnancy can be overwhelming. It is essential to distinguish fact from fiction, especially when it comes to the health of the growing fetus. You should consult your obstetrician or gynecologist if you have any questions about what is safe for you and your baby. A healthy diet, moderate exercise, and regular prenatal care are essential to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy.