Pregnancy is an exciting time and everyone is going to have a lot of advice for you – whether you ask for it or not. Among other things, you’ll probably hear a lot of old wives’ tales about how to determine the gender, how to beat morning sickness, and more. Here are some of the most common pregnancy myths we hear, debunked:
1. You’re Eating For 2
You’ve probably heard this before – people often say that pregnant women are eating for 2. It’s technically true in the sense that you’re eating for both yourself and the baby, but it’s misleading. Pregnancy doesn’t actually require eating 2 people’s worth of food. In fact, most women don’t need to eat any extra calories at all during the first trimester. During the second, you’ll probably need to take in an extra 300-400 calories per day and during the third, you’ll need an extra 400-500 calories per day.
Women who were a healthy weight before pregnancy should typically gain 25-35 pounds total and underweight women might gain as much as 28-40 pounds. If you were overweight before pregnancy, you only need to put on 15-25 pounds and if you were obese, you may gain as little as 10-20 total. If you’re carrying twins, triplets, or more multiples, you can expect to gain more weight.
Gaining too much weight during pregnancy is actually dangerous for both you and the baby. It’s linked to higher risks of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, birth defects, and labor complications.
You should work with your doctor to track your weight gain; every pregnancy is different and the right amount of weight gain can vary depending on your health and the needs of your particular pregnancy.
2. Your Belly Will Indicate Your Baby’s Sex
When you’re pregnant, people are going to want to touch your belly. Everyone is fascinated with a pregnant belly, especially if they might be able to feel a kick or a movement. Sometimes, people will feel your belly and declare that they can determine the sex of the baby based on your belly’s shape. Most often, they’ll claim that the baby is a boy if your belly is low and a girl if your belly is high.
This is a very old myth and there’s no truth to it. Male babies don’t sit lower in your belly than female ones. The shape of your tummy is determined by your muscle tone and structure and the position that the baby is in. All babies will move lower as you get closer to delivery and there’s no evidence to suggest that your belly can indicate the sex of the baby. The only way to learn that is with an ultrasound.
3. You Can’t Dye Your Hair
Many people believe that it’s dangerous to dye your hair while you’re pregnant. It makes sense – the process involves some pretty harsh chemicals. However, it’s a myth.
The chemicals used to dye your hair are harsh, but they’re only absorbed through your scalp in tiny amounts, if at all. There’s no evidence to suggest that they are harmful to fetuses. You may choose to skip the dye for the first trimester out of an abundance of caution, but you don’t have to wait for delivery to take care of those pesky roots.
If you work as a hairdresser, however, you may want to talk to your doctor about whether frequent and prolonged exposure to the various chemicals used in salons may pose a health risk to you or your little one.
4. You’re Grounded
Air travel involves body scanners, x-rays, and an increased dose of radiation while you’re in the air. That makes it seem risky for expectant mothers and you may hear dire warnings about avoiding air travel during pregnancy. It’s a myth – you’re free to fly!
Experts say that you’re not actually getting that much more radiation in the air than you are on the ground and that it doesn’t penetrate all the way to the womb, anyway. In addition, the radiation you get while going through the security process is minimal. If you’re not comfortable with the body scanner, you can always request a pat-down instead.
There is one caveat – you may want to avoid flying too close to your due date because you probably don’t want to go into labor at 30,000 feet. In fact, some airlines have policies against women flying at the end of their pregnancies out of fears that they’ll go into labor and force the plane to land.
5. You Can’t Have Sex
Pregnancy already involves giving up some fun things (like alcohol) and some practical things (a lot of medications). Does it also mean giving up sex for 40 weeks?
Good news – that’s a myth. There are a bunch of unfounded fears floating around about poking or disturbing the baby or somehow endangering the pregnancy, but there’s no need to worry. As long as your pregnancy is low-risk, you’re free to have sex!
There are a couple of caveats. First, you should check with your doctor to make sure that your pregnancy is low-risk; some conditions that can threaten your pregnancy may be exacerbated by sexual activity. Second, you need to be aware of the risk of contracting a sexually-transmitted infection. Those can be passed to your baby and can cause serious health problems.
Pregnancy Myths vs. Pregnancy Facts
It’s understandable that people get a little paranoid during pregnancy and it’s always better to err on the side of safety. If flying or having sex or any of the other behaviors listed above make you nervous, there’s no need to do them! Stress is hard on you and the baby and you have every right to avoid things that are stressing you out.
Whenever you’re not sure about what you should or shouldn’t do while pregnant, ask your doctor! They’re there to make sure you have all the information you need for a safe and happy pregnancy. When it comes to the health of your growing little one, there really is no such thing as a stupid question.
What pregnancy myths have you heard? Tell us about them in the comments!