14 Pregnancy Myths Busted
From cutting back on caffeine to putting the kabosh on workouts, find out what's fact and what's fiction.
Do do this. Don't do that. With all the pregnancy "advice" out there, it's hard to know what to believe — or whom to believe. But remember, every pregnancy is different, so follow your doctor's orders above anything else.
Myth 1: Eat three healthy meals a day
False! You should be eating six or seven small meals (every two to three hours). "Eating frequently and from various food groups will keep your blood sugar in a constant range, which is healthy for you and your baby," says Stuart Fischbein, M.D., coauthor of Fearless Pregnancy. Don't obsess about food and don't diet. What was good for you pre-pregnancy is good for you now. And yes, that includes an ice cream sundae with butterscotch sauce if you so desire.
Daily nutrition checklist
Myth 2: It's okay to have a drink
True! If you want to toast your sister at her wedding with a glass of bubbly, "Go ahead," says Mary Jane Minkin, MD, a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University School of Medicine and coauthor of A Woman's Guide to Sexual Health. "One glass of wine isn't going to hurt the baby," she says. But one glass here and there doesn't mean nine — in fact, two or more alcoholic drinks daily can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome. So while it's best to cut out alcohol completely, Dr. Minkin says that an occasional small glass of wine with your pasta primavera is harmless.
Alcohol in early pregnancy
Myth 3: Decaf only
False! One small cup of coffee a day is perfectly fine. While a recent study at McGill University in Montreal did find that the caffeine in two to three cups of coffee a day increases the risk of miscarriage, it did not consider how the coffee was brewed and the type of coffee used. Dr. Minkin points out that a French blend served black is much stronger than a weak cup of American coffee mixed with milk. It's another controversial subject for sure, but moderate caffeine intake isn't likely to harm you or your baby. The same goes for sodas with a caffeine jolt.
Tips for decreasing intake
Myth 4: Cut out the cheese
False! Well, you don't have to cut all the cheeses. Some kinds, like cheddar and Swiss, are innocuous because they have been pasteurized. It's the soft, unpasteurized products like Brie, feta, and goat cheese that might carry food-borne illnesses. If you're lucky, the market you frequent will carry pasteurized versions — just start looking at labels more often. And then you can still enjoy your crackers with cheese.
Why calcium's key
Myth 5: You're eating for two
False! Pregnancy is not a time to pig out. You certainly have a bit more leeway when it comes to a second helping of supper, but on average women need only about 300 extra calories a day.
Expert's eating guidelines
Myth 6: Say so long to seafood
False! Chances are that if the reputable (and tasty) sushi bar you love so much has not made you sick pre-pregnancy, you are not at risk when you are with-child. Yes, there is a greater risk of ingesting bad kinds of bacteria from raw foods (so you might feel more comfortable with a cooked-shrimp roll), but if you had spicy yellow fin before realizing you were pregnant, no harm done. The dangerous mercury levels, you ask? Again, it's all about moderation. Enjoy tuna on rye once a week, not daily. Not all fish are created equal. When perusing a menu, go with seafood with lower mercury levels, like salmon, shrimp, and tilapia.Unfortunately, swordfish and tilefish have the highest levels of mercury and should be skipped.
More from Dr. Roman, recent studies & the FDA
Myth 7: I should tilt my lower body upward to help the sperm get to my egg
False! There's absolutely no evidence that shows shifting gravity in your favor will increase your chances of getting pregnant. So after sex, just relax!
The best moves to get you pregnant
Myth 8: You'll have to suffer through sickness
False! Many OTC meds are safe during pregnancy, but somehow women believe they need to put up with migraines and be a slave to the runs.Not so. You should consult your OB/GYN before you take anything, but many experts give the following drugs the green light: Tylenol for headaches and fever; Tums or Mylanta for heartburn; Imodium for diarrhea; Robitussin for colds; and Sudafed or Benadryl for allergies.Many prescription drugs are also okay to continue with during pregnancy, but again, follow your doctor's orders. Herbal supplements and teas are up in the air. Not much research has been done on their effects on fetuses. The kinds you buy in the grocery store are probably safe, but check with your doctor first. If you need to soothe your nerves and want to take the natural route, meditate or eat a piece of chocolate. We prefer the latter.
Complete guide to OTC meds
Myth 9: Skip the gym
False! Actually, many docs say that in most cases, low-impact workouts can be a great way to control your weight and prep for baby. Just avoid contact sports or exercises that involve lying on your back (which reduces blood flow to you brain and uterus). Talk to your OB!
Why working out during pregnancy is so good for you (and baby)
Myth 10: They'll know you're not a natural blonde!
False! Being pregnant does not have to compromise your appearance (at least not above the belly), but you do need to be smart. Dr. Fischbein says that while there is a theoretical risk associated with coloring your hair (chemicals being absorbed through the scalp), studies have not shown anything conclusive. He recommends avoiding dye for at least the first trimester, when the baby's organs are forming. Relieve worries by opting for a natural vegetable dye over a semipermanent or permanent product, but Dr. Minkin still suggests checking them out with your doctor during the first trimester. Eggplant, anyone?
Also: Why you're now a frizzball
Myth 11: I'll get pregnant if we have sex 14 days after my period
False! This is one of the biggest misconceptions! Unless you've got a perfect, completely consistent, 28-day cycle (which is so not the norm for most women), you aren't always most fertile on day 14. How can you tell your most fertile days? Track your common fertility signs, especially the changes in cervical fluids.
Six ways to tell when you're most fertile
Myth 12: Exercise is a no-no
False! Clear everything with your OB to be sure, but many docs say that keeping up with mild exercise is just fine. If your pregnancy is sans complications, low-impact workouts can be a great way to control your weight and prep for baby — just be sure to avoid contact sports or exercises that involve lying on your back (this position can reduce blood flow to your brain and uterus).
Exercise dos and don't during pregnancy
Myth 13: Manicures are out
False! You don't need to forgo weekly manis just because you want to be a mommy. "You would need massive and long-term exposure to the products before there was a chance of problems," says Dr. Fischbein. You might get a little nauseous from the fumes with your newfound sensitivity to odors, but if that's the case, make your appointments for less crowded times of the day. Still freaked out about what's in the nail polish itself? If you fear exposure to dibutyl phthalate, a much-debated ingredient in some polishes, look for brands that don't use the stuff like Butter London, Scotch Naturals and Zoya.
Plus: spa safety
Myth 14: "Saving up" sperm will help us get pregnant faster
False! Max sperm counts are seen at around 24- to 48-hour intervals, so "saving up" sperm for the big occasion won't help your cause much. In fact, it may actually decrease your chances of conceiving. Have sex whenever it feels right to you and get a bit more frisky (think: at least every other day) around ovulation time.
Are you having too much sex?