If you’re about to be a mom for the first time, chances are you’ve got lots of people in your sphere giving you plenty of advice! Of course, everybody means well, and some guidance (particularly from medical professionals) is accurate and useful.
However, there are still plenty of myths about pregnancy that are circulated regularly – from what you should and shouldn’t eat, to how to predict your baby’s sex, to safety. Here we look at some of the most popular pregnancy myths out there and dispel them with the facts.
Pregnancy Myth 1: Eating for two
This is one of my favorite myths in pregnancy because women all over the globe feel this one. Countless mothers have told their daughters that in pregnancy you are “eating for two.” The cultural beliefs surrounding this myth are so strong that women often find themselves guilted into eating excess amounts because they want to be “good mothers” and support their baby’s development. And, of course, most of us really do try and listen to our mothers.
The truth is, a mother needs roughly 180 extra calories per day to support her baby’s development. That number is analogous to an extra apple and yogurt per day. Not a lot of extra calories, ladies. Also, if you start pregnancy on the heavier side (overweight or obese), research shows that minimizing your weight in pregnancy is a huge advantage. It reduces risks of complications like preeclampsia and diabetes for mom, reduces need for a c-section and reduces risks to baby. So, gaining excess weight in pregnancy is definitely not good for mothers. Be mindful of the advice to eat for two and pass on the extra helping.
Having said that, you need an extra 500 calories when breastfeeding, so definitely feel free to have the extra slice of pizza or serving of dinner because your body will work it off producing milk for your newborn!
Myth 2: Bed rest minimizes complications
This myth has been largely disproven in the scientific community. We used to advise pregnant women to continue bed rest for months if they had any risk of preterm contractions or labor, bleeding, had multiple pregnancies, etc. There may be a few select reasons your doctor may advise for bed rest, but its largely not something we advocate. Activity in pregnancy is a good way to prevent blood clots, minimize weight, and keep you healthy for pregnancy and recovery.
So, while kicking back and getting off your feet for short periods of time is well-deserved and relaxing- avoid staying in bed just because.
Myth 3: Heartburn means your baby has more hair!
Oddly enough this crazy myth seems to be controversial. Not sure where it came from, but there was a study done at Johns Hopkins looking at a small sample of women (60 women) that suggested that women with worse heartburn had babies with more hair. But it was a small study and limited in its design.
Physically, heartburn is because the estrogen load of pregnancy relaxes your gastric sphincter and the acid that is normally in your stomach creeps up into the esophagus giving you that burning or indigestion feeling. There’s no scientific evidence that links it to a hairy baby!