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Common Pregnancy Myths vs. Facts

Written by Kathy Sander, M.D., F.A.C.O.G. on Jan 10, 2018, 8:27:00 AM

Can you eat sushi or not when you're pregnant? How about flying, is it okay to be on a plane? What type of diet should you be following? Is it true spicy food can be harmful to a pregnancy? 

We are at a time in history when almost any information you could ever want is at your fingertips within a couple of keystrokes. Unfortunately, a side effect of this readily available information is that some of it isn't true, especially when dealing with pregnancies. If you've been wondering how to sift through the wealth of information available online regarding what you should or shouldn't do during your pregnancy, look no further. Let's identify some popular pregnancy myths. 

Myth: Natural childbirth is out once you've had a cesarean section.

Fact: Although risk factors around having a natural childbirth following a C-section are slightly increased, for most women it’s a reasonable preference. Discuss your options with your doctor to see what they say, but for the most part, women are generally healthy enough to follow through with a natural childbirth. 

Myth: If the baby is sitting high in your belly, it's probably a girl. If the baby is low, you're probably having a boy.

Fact: There's absolutely no way to tell the gender of your baby based on its positioning in your belly, regardless of what anyone tells you. The only surefire way to determine the sex of your baby before it is born is by having an ultrasound.

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Myth: Cardio is out during pregnancy.

Fact:  What was your activity level like before your pregnancy? This is the best determining factor for what you will be able to do while you're pregnant. Chances are, if you were physically active before pregnancy, you should be able to maintain some level of that activity during your pregnancy. Many soon-to-be moms don't even have to change their workout regimen until very close to their delivery date. That being said, it's   not a great idea to start a radically different workout routine during your pregnancy. Talk to your doctor before doing any physical activity, regardless of how much or how little you did before you were pregnant. 

Myth: Stress you feel during pregnancy is passed on to the fetus and is detrimental to their well-being.

Fact: Recent research has shown that a small level of stress can actually be good for your baby. Not only does it help tone your baby's nervous system, but it can actually accelerate their development. Studies have shown that infants and toddlers who had mothers who experienced moderate stress during their pregnancies exhibited higher motor skills and mental development scores. 

Myth: Avoid seafood at all costs during pregnancy.

Fact: Omega-3 fatty acids are incredibly important for brain development. In fact, prenatal vitamins that you're taking should have a fairly significant dose of Omega-3. Research has shown that mothers who ate cooked seafood low in mercury during their pregnancy had children with higher verbal IQs, better social and communication skills and better motor function. The keyword here is “cooked.” Skip uncooked fish and shellfish to avoid potentially harmful bacteria or viruses. 

Myth: Spicy food is dangerous to eat during pregnancy.

Fact: Unless your doctor tells you otherwise because of a medical condition like an ulcer, spicy food is perfectly safe to eat during pregnancy. Be aware though, that most pregnancies come with a side of heartburn and spicy food will only exacerbate this problem. 

Myth: Flying on a plane during your last trimester is dangerous.

Fact: There's nothing inherently dangerous about flying in a pressurized cabin during your pregnancy. Your doctor might ask you to abstain from flying if you are very close to your due date or if you are high risk, but these restrictions have more to do with being cautious then they do with flying being dangerous.

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Myth: You will lose your baby weight during delivery.

Fact: I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but most women only lose between 10 and 15 pounds from delivery - and that includes the weight of your baby. Considering that most women gain upwards of 25 pounds during pregnancy, there's still some overlap that you'll have to lose on your own following your baby's birth. 

Myth: Breastfeeding is fine, but it doesn't really benefit the baby much more than formula.

Fact: However you choose to feed your baby is between you and your partner alone. Some women simply can't breastfeed, and that's fine. But there is extensive medical research that shows unequivocally that breastfeeding provides essential nutrients and protection for your baby. 

Always remember that it's better to be safe than sorry. If you have any questions about whether something is okay to do during pregnancy, the best place to turn is your doctor. Chances are they’ve heard the question before and will have no problem giving you a straightforward and clear answer. 


Dr. Kathy Sander is a board-certified OB/GYN specialist at Kelsey-Seybold’s Woman’s Center. Her clinical interests include general and high risk obstetrics, treatment of menstrual problems, preconception counseling, contraceptive options including Implanon, Mirena IUDs, Essure, Nuvaring and oral contraceptives, and treatment of menopausal concerns. She offers delayed cord cutting as an option for her patients.


Topics: pregnancy, pregnancy myths

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