Myths Surrounding Pregnancy

Reviewed on : 24 April 2016

Since time immemorial many beliefs have developed around the subject of pregnancy. While not all of them are incorrect, some myths can become the cause of unnecessary worry for the expecting mother and the family. Though experts have confirmed or disproved many of these, it is impossible to confirm or deny many others. Women would be well advised not to blindly believe what others say because not all pregnancies are alike; in fact, each pregnancy is unique in its own way.

Consume extra food for two ?

Many believe that pregnant women need to consume double the amount of what they usually ate before they became pregnant as they are now eating for two. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a pregnant woman only needs to consume 300 extra calories a day for the safe growth of the baby. This is quite a small amount and can be achieved through a glass of milk and some bread. In fact women who are overweight should not gain as much weight as a normal woman during the course of their pregnancy. Overeating can lead to excess weight gain.

If a woman has been previously pregnant then she is likely to put on more weight during the next pregnancy. Experts have also stated that the chances of C-section or difficult vaginal birth increase if the woman has gained more than 22.5 kg (or 50 lbs). Studies have also shown that the babies who are overgrown at birth also have a higher probability of being obese when they grow up.

Avoid sex and orgasm ?

Some believe that the expecting mother should not have sex until she has delivered the baby. Contrary to the popular belief, pregnant women can have sex as the mere physical act of sex does not harm the foetus as it is surrounded by the protective amniotic sac and the uterine muscles which are quite strong. The cervix is sealed through a thick mucus plug. What the women need to think about is the possibility of getting a sexually transmitted disease like HIV, chlamydia, genital warts or herpes, which can be transmitted to the baby.

It is also hypothesized by some that an orgasm can lead to miscarriage. This is completely untrue in the case of a normal low risk pregnancy. To be on the safer side, the women who intend to go for intercourse should consult their doctors to make sure theirs is a normal pregnancy. The doctor can warn them against signs of preterm labour, miscarriage or unexplained vaginal bleeding during pregnancy.

Do not travel by air when Pregnant ?

May believe that the pregnant women should not travel by air as it can increase the chances of complications. Some also state that the radiations from the X-ray machines at the airports can cause damage to the baby. This is not completely true. Experts have stated that the minor amount of radiation that the mother is exposed to during airport scans and the flight are unable to penetrate to the baby. Thus, the chances of fetal exposure are unlikely.

The National Institute for Standards and Technology and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory have suggested that if the mother does not want to go through the X-ray machine, she can opt for a physical search. They also reassure the women that the level of radiation from the machines is harmless.

Though, it is quite safe for normal low risk pregnant women to travel by air, the moms-to-be who have coexisting lung or cardiac problems during pregnancy should not fly. Their problems might get worse when they are high up above the ground. Consulting the doctor before travelling is the best option.

Avoid the Flu Shot ?

There are some myths around getting vaccinated and some believe that getting vaccinated can give their baby the flu while others believe that the preservatives in the vaccine might harm the baby. The truth is that vaccination is often essential. The jab will not transfer the flu to the baby. There is no evidence supporting the theory that the flu vaccine harms the foetus. The women who avoid flu shots because of the preservatives can opt for a thimerosal-free flu shot. The nasal spray vaccine should be avoided but the shot is completely safe.

It is known that pregnancy changes the capabilities of a woman’s immune system, as well as the heart and lungs. This can make the pregnant women more susceptible to the flu. The risk of getting extremely sick for women increases if they get the flu while they are pregnant.

Don’t Eat Fish ?

This myth is only partly true. The expecting mothers only need to be careful about the fish that have high mercury content. These include swordfish, shark, tilefish and king mackerel. According to ACOG, pregnant women should avoid eating fish in the raw form like sushi or sashimi. The chances of the fish having parasites or bacteria increase when it is not cooked and this can lead to an infection in the mother.

Consumption of two servings of fish per week can be safe for both the mother and the baby. Coldwater fish contains lots of omega-3 fatty acids that are known to help in the development of the brain and vision. Salmon, shrimp and canned light tuna are safe for consumption during pregnancy.

Say No to Caffeine ?

There is no evidence that supports a link between caffeine and preterm birth. Experts have stated that if the consumption of coffee is limited to one 12-ounce cup a day, no evidence has shown that the women might face miscarriage or low birth weight.

Don’t use Hair Dyes ?

The chemicals present in hair dyes are only absorbed in minimal amounts by the skin and are not harmful to the baby. However, the strong smell of the dyes can make a pregnant woman nauseous.

Boy or Girl ?

Previously, it was believed that if the pregnant woman carries high, she will have a girl and if she carries low, it is a boy. There is no evidence to suggest this myth to be true

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