Pregnancy: Busting the Myths

You’ve probably heard plenty of old wives’ tales and conflicting stories about being pregnant. Which ones are fact and which are fiction? Find out here. Answer myth or truth to each of the following, and see how savvy you are about the realities of pregnancy.

1. Working while I’m pregnant should be OK for the baby and me.

Answer: Truth. In most cases, working throughout pregnancy is not harmful. But be cautious if your job involves dangerous machinery or chemicals, lifting, or standing for long periods of time. Talk to your doctor and employer about your particular job and pregnancy.

2. It’s not safe to have sex during pregnancy.

Answer: Myth. You should be able to continue having sex throughout pregnancy unless your doctor specifically tells you not to, and as long as it’s not uncomfortable.

3. I shouldn’t change my cat’s litter box while I’m pregnant.

Answer: Truth. Cats carry a disease called toxoplasmosis. In adult humans, it shows up as a mild infection of the blood and organs. If you are infected during pregnancy, the baby’s brain and eyes could be damaged. To be safe, have someone else change the litter. If you must handle it, wear a paper mask over your nose and mouth. Also, wear gloves and wash your hands afterward.

4. I should avoid certain medicines while I’m pregnant.

Answer: Truth. No prescription or over-the-counter medicine is safe for everyone all of the time. But sometimes you’ll need medication while you’re carrying your baby. Tell your doctor once you know you’re pregnant and discuss the safety of medications during pregnancy. Only use the medicines your doctor says are OK to take.

5. I shouldn’t take baths while I’m pregnant.

Answer: Myth. A long, warm bath is fine, but it is possible to overheat your baby. To avoid making your baby too warm, don’t sit in a Jacuzzi or hot tub while pregnant. Bath water should be less than 100°F. Also, exercise less intensely if you feel fatigued. Base your workout on how you feel, not your heart rate. Heart rates aren’t a good way to measure effort during pregnancy.

6. I can lift and carry the groceries the same as I always have.

Answer: Truth, as long as your doctor doesn’t tell you otherwise. Lift and carry safely to avoid injury and reduce back pain during pregnancy. To protect your back:

  • Bend at the knees to bring the load nearer.
  • Get a good grip. Test the weight of the load.
  • Tighten your abdomen. Exhale as you lift.
  • Lift with your legs, not with your back.
  • Carry the load close to your body.
  • Hold the load so you can see where you’re going.

7. If I get sick while I’m pregnant, it will be bad for my baby.

Answer: Myth. Most women get sick at least once during pregnancy. Talk with your doctor if you do. Most likely it will not affect your pregnancy. Get plenty of rest and fluids, and eat what you can. Talk to your doctor before taking any medicines.

8. I should avoid traveling while I’m pregnant.

Answer: Myth. Traveling is generally fine during pregnancy, especially if you set the pace. When you plan a trip, allow time to stop and rest. You may want to hold off travel until the second trimester when your body is more adjusted to pregnancy. But don’t wait until the third trimester, because of the possibility of going into early labor. Head to a location where health care facilities are close by. You may want to pack a copy of your medical records with you in case you need health care while you’re away.

9. I can continue to follow a vegetarian diet while pregnant.

Answer: Truth. You’ll want to talk with a registered dietitian. And be sure to get enough of the following:

  • Protein. Eat eggs and milk if you’re an ovo-lacto vegetarian. Eat vegetable proteins, like tofu and beans, if you’re a vegan.
  • Calcium. If you don’t eat dairy, try soy milk, soy cheese fortified with calcium, and orange juice fortified with calcium.
  • Vitamin B12. You may need to take a supplement that includes folic acid.
  • Vitamin D. If you don’t drink milk, ask about taking a supplement.
  • Iron. Your doctor may recommend a supplement.

10. I shouldn’t paint my nails while I’m pregnant.

Answer: Myth. It’s OK to paint your nails. As with any other painting project during pregnancy, be careful about breathing the fumes. Keep the windows open or use a fan.

11. I should eat more if I exercise.

Answer: Truth. But you’ll only need an extra 100 calories for each 30 minutes of mild exercise. You’ll also need more fluids. Drink at least an extra 8 ounces of water.

12. Jogging is OK during pregnancy.

Answer: Truth. You can jog as long as you are comfortable. Many moms-to-be find the impact or bounce of a jog doesn’t feel good. Some switch to brisk walking as their pregnancy advances.

13. There are certain foods and drinks I should avoid during pregnancy.

Answer: Truth. Avoid unpasteurized milk products or juices. Also, avoid raw or undercooked meat, poultry, fish, or eggs. And stay away from prepared meats, like hot dogs or deli meat, unless served steaming hot. Limit caffeine and avoid alcohol, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.

14. I should stop lifting weights while I’m pregnant.

Answer: Myth. If you have been lifting weights, there is no need to stop. Instead, keep the weights light and in control. Never hold your breath. If you haven’t been lifting weights, don’t start now.