Hair color, hot tubs, coffee and sex — they are just a few of the topics that are often debated during pregnancy. As if pregnant women do not have enough to think about, they are frequently faced with a list of “dos” and “don’ts” given by well-meaning — but sometimes misinformed — family, friends and strangers on the street.
Here are some of the most common pregnancy myths
Physical activity does not increase your risk of miscarriage or low weight. However, it’s important to check with your physician about types of exercises you can do and how to safely exercise during pregnancy.
“In general, most exercises that you were doing prior to your pregnancy can be continued for as long as you are comfortable,” Dr. Fainman says.
Optimally, pregnant women should exercise at least three days a week. As your baby and your body grow, your sense of balance may change, so watch out for falls. Always incorporate a warm-up and cool-down, and drink plenty of water during and after your workouts.
It’s better to say that you want to eat twice as healthy.
A pregnant woman with one baby on the way needs an extra 340 calories per day starting in the second trimester and about 450 calories in the third trimester, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
You can easily add extra calories with healthy snacks, such as nuts, yogurt, apple slices and other fruit.
“Your doctor can help you monitor your weight gain during pregnancy to make sure that you are on track,” Dr. Fainman says.
Sex will not hurt you or your baby if you have an uncomplicated pregnancy. You and your partner may find some positions more comfortable than others. Take time to get used to your changing body, and experiment to find out what is most comfortable.
It is perfectly fine to dye your hair and get your nails done, assuming the salon you choose is clean and reputable.
However, if the fumes are overwhelming when you enter, it is probably not the best place to be — especially since pregnancy can increase your sensitivity to chemical smells.
If you are having a manicure or pedicure, it is best to take your own nail tools along to decrease the risk of infection, whether you are pregnant or not.
There is no proof that small amounts of caffeine, such as one cup of coffee a day, adversely affect a normal pregnancy, so go ahead and enjoy. “But consider discussing your caffeine intake with your doctor, since certain women may need to avoid caffeine altogether,” Dr. Fainman advises.
Remember, caffeine is also found in tea, chocolate, energy drinks and soft drinks.
It’s best not to use hot tubs, steam rooms and saunas. Your core body temperature increases when you use saunas and hot tubs.
During pregnancy, your core body temperature should not rise above 102.2. It is fine to relax in a warm bath or shower.
Many types of fish are safe to eat when fully cooked. Uncooked seafood is not safe during pregnancy. Any sushi with raw or undercooked seafood should be avoided. It’s always better to avoid self-inflicted nausea and indulge in foods with fewer risks of bacterial contamination.
Other foods to avoid when pregnant include rare or undercooked beef or poultry and unpasteurized milk and cheese.
There are no magic creams or cures for stretch marks, which are common during pregnancy and can appear on the abdomen, buttocks, breasts or thighs.
Save your money and use a lubricating lotion or cocoa butter cream to keep the stretching skin from itching and becoming irritated. Most stretch marks fade after the baby is born though they may never disappear completely.
As long as you are making active progress in labor when you receive the anesthesia, an epidural should not slow your labor. “Your physician and the anesthesiologist will discuss the risks and benefits of the procedure,” Dr. Fainman says.
It’s important to stay up to date with information that could affect your pregnancy. Wrong information doesn’t help anyone and can even make things worse. Find trusted sources for example for questions you may have about pregnancy and the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine is safe and recommended for pregnant women.
Remember, your doctor is your best resource for questions and concerns about your pregnancy.
Let your doctor know what is on your mind, and together the two of you can help make your pregnancy as safe and joyful as possible.