Putting Pregnancy Myths to Rest

2/20/2014

If a pregnant woman had a dollar for every piece of advice she has heard, or “do or don’t” she’s read about since she found out she was pregnant, she’d be able to buy a lot of diapers.
“In a world saturated by media messages that spread rapidly thanks to the internet, social media, and email, not to mention well-intentioned advice and ‘old wives’ tales,’ it can be difficult to sort out the accurate information from myth and misinformation,” says Scott Bergstedt, MD, ob/gyn with OBG-1 of West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital. “What we don’t want to see happen is a woman accepting erroneous information as fact without asking her healthcare provider about her concern.”
Dr. Bergstedt addresses a few of the most common pregnancy health myths he hears from patients:

Myth: Morning sickness ends after the first trimester.
Fact: Actually, morning sickness is a misnomer because it can occur at any time of the day or night, and it is not a sickness. It's known as morning sickness because an empty stomach can lead to queasiness, and your stomach is usually empty when you wake up. It is more common in early pregnancy, but some women experience it throughout their entire pregnancy.

Myth: Drinking coffee will cause miscarriage, preterm birth or low birth weight.
Fact: There does not appear to be any relationship between caffeine consumption and preterm birth or miscarriage. You shouldn’t overdo it, but a cup a day – 12 ounces – is considered safe.

Myth: If you raise your arms above your head while pregnant, the baby will get the cord wrapped around its neck.
Fact: Up to 25 percent of fetuses have the umbilical cord wrapped around the neck; it is the baby's activity in the womb and, perhaps, bad luck, not the mother's activities during pregnancy that determine whether the cord is wrapped around the baby's neck. The good news is that nearly all of these babies develop normally and are successfully delivered.

Myth: Flying Can Increase Your Risk of Complications
Fact: You can fly whenever you want. Some airlines won’t let you on the plane in your last trimester, but that has more to do with fears that you’ll go into labor and force the plane to land. Women with high-risk pregnancies should check with their doctor before flying, but normal, healthy woman should be able to safely fly.

Myth: You can’t eat fish while pregnant.
Fact: 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. Salmon, shrimp, and canned light tuna are good choices. You should try to avoid fish high in mercury, such as swordfish, shark, tilefish, and king mackerel, and skip raw fish, including sushi or sashimi. Raw fish is more likely than cooked fish to contain parasites and bacteria. Cooked sushi is safe.

Myth: You're eating for two, so you need to double your servings.
Fact: Yes, you're eating for you and your baby, 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. That's roughly the number of calories in a glass of skim milk and half a sandwich. A woman of normal weight should gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy, and less if she's overweight.

Myth: Avoid hair dyes.
Fact: Chemicals from hair dye, permanents, and relaxers are absorbed through the skin only in minimal amounts that aren't harmful. The fumes, however, make some pregnant women nauseous. You can avoid this by choosing products without high concentrations of ammonia, which has strong fumes.

Myth: Spicy foods can trigger labor.
Fact: Scientific evidence suggests that labor is triggered by biological signals, some of which are well understood and others that remain uncertain. As long as you eat a well-balanced diet, there is no evidence that what you eat has any effect on your delivery date.

Myth: You should get rid of your cat.
Fact: This myth is close to the truth but still untrue. Your cat is not the risk, it’s their litter box. You shouldn’t change your cat’s litter box during pregnancy because of the risk of toxoplasmosis. This infection can come from handling of cat litter because it may be in the stool of cats, so pregnant women are advised not to handle cat litter.

Myth: You shouldn’t take baths while pregnant.
Fact: A normal hot bath is fine, but you should avoid saunas, Jacuzzis or anything that raises your body temperature over 101 degrees.

Myth: A nursing mother can't get pregnant.
Fact: This is an old wives' tale that has at least a grain of truth in it. The truth is that breast-feeding will delay ovulation, but this is dependent upon how much the baby is nursing. He says women who do not wish to become pregnant should not count on breast feeding as a fool-proof method of birth control.

Dr. Bergstedt stresses that when you have any questions about your pregnancy, you should always ask your doctor. “The worst thing you can do is make an important health decision based on incorrect or outdated information. Don’t always trust the rumor mill when it comes to your pregnancy.”

For more information about pregnancy care, call OBG-1 of West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital at (337) 312-1000 to schedule an appointment.

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