Baby-bringing storks, foods, rituals, prohibitions, or magical intervention have all influenced what we’ve believed is true, good, or safe during pregnancy. Modern women may not believe ghosts bring babies, but they may still believe in today’s pseudo-science equivalents. Let’s debunk 5 super common pregnancy beliefs that can influence your pregnancy choices and how you feel as you plan for birth.
Knowing what’s OK during pregnancy is a question most of us ask, probably more than once. Feeling relaxed about your choices during pregnancy can affect your preferences and plans as you think ahead to your baby’s birth and create your hospital bag checklist.
BELIEF #1: You’re Eating for Two So You Can Eat Anything
Although you’re growing new person and that demands extra nutrition, it doesn’t mean packing on the pounds. The average woman only needs about 300 extra calories per day. The average amount of weight gain for a healthy, low-risk pregnancy is 25-35 pounds. If you are overweight when your pregnancy begins, this range may be different. Here’s a yummy site for eating well with 300 calories: http://allrecipes.com/recipes/14987/everyday-cooking/special-diets/low-calorie/300-calorie-main-dishes/
BELIEF #2: Caffeine Will Cause Miscarriage
The amount of caffeine in products varies from coffee to chocolate to tea to medicines. But caffeine won’t cause miscarriage, although consistent intake of coffee was associated with lower birth weight and small for gestational age babies.
The March of Dimes has a great chart about the average amount of caffeine in foods.
For most women, limiting your caffeine intake to 200mg/day (about 12oz of coffee or cola) is safe. But there is no evidence that caffeine causes miscarriage, Cesarean birth, breech birth, or premature birth.
BELIEF #3: Fish is Bad During Pregnancy
It depends on which fish you choose!
Coldwater fish is great for you and your baby. Its omega-3 fatty acids help baby’s brain and vision, as well as your heart and cholesterol.
The Mayo Clinic recommends 8-10 oz. per week of fish during pregnancy.
- Atlantic and Pacific mackerel
But types of fish with high concentrations of mercury should be avoided. Here are the most likely culprits:
- King mackerel
- Albacore and yellowfin tuna contain more than twice the mercury of light tuna (also known as ‘skipjack’)
BTW, all you sushi lovers, cooked sushi is fine, but raw isn’t because it can contain harmful bacteria and/or parasites.
BELIEF #4: Sex is Dangerous During Pregnancy
For women whose hormones send their sexual desires skyrocketing, this idea can be torture; for women who appreciate the respite from sexual interaction, this myth is a relief.
Either way, sex is not bad for most women during pregnancy. Orgasm contractions are different than uterine contractions and won’t trigger labor. Baby is protected from impact by its amniotic fluid. Your mucus plug prevents semen and bacteria from entering the womb.
But there is no protection against sexually transmitted diseases during pregnancy, so beware of intercourse where you can get herpes, genital warts, chlamydia, or HIV. Check with your care provider if there is a risk of miscarriage, preterm labor, or if you have unexplained vaginal bleeding.
BELIEF #5: Flu Shots Are Bad
Nope – if you are a believer in flu shots when you aren’t pregnant then there is no need to change your stance during pregnancy. Because your immune system is weaker when you’re pregnant, your sensitivity to the flu is heightened.
Request the shot instead of the nasal spray. The shot contains the killed flu virus, but the nasal spray contains a weak, live virus. If you are worried about the mercury-based preservative in the vaccine, you can request a preservative-free (thimerosal-free) version, .
While researching your birth preferences so you can write your birth plan (make sure it’s on your hospital bag checklist!), you’ll probably come across other myths or long-held beliefs. Each one is your opportunity to learn more so you have evidence-based information for planning your pregnancy and birth.
Creating your baby’s birth plan can be thrilling when you’re relaxed and feel informed. If you need expert advice, your care provider is your most trusted source of experience and information.
To learn more about feeling good during pregnancy, download our free Birth Plan eBook now. After three years of research, collaboration with more than 100 childbirth experts and resource centers from Healthy Child Healthy World to the American Association of Neonatal Nurses, the Best Ever Baby Birth Plan Guide is available for a free download.
This new resource for pregnant families is a compilation of top tips and advice from more than 20 nationally-recognized experts in the field including renowned pediatrician, Dr. Alan Greene and the GraceFull Birthing founder, midwife Elizabeth Bachner. These trusted experts offer thoughtful guidance for whatever type of birthing experience parents want, in whichever setting they choose.
Published: December 21, 2015 | By SP Turgon, Certified Labor Doula | Reviewed by: Kim Walls, Natural Products Expert, Elizabeth Bachner, LM, CPM, L.Ac., Midwife | Last reviewed: December, 2015