Read time: 4 Minutes
When you announce your pregnancy, suddenly everyone becomes a baby expert – dishing out their advice and warnings left, right and centre.
“Don’t each that cheese!”, “Stay away from sushi!”, “Is that a glass of WINE in your hand?!”
And although it’s all mostly well meaning, some of the most common pieces of pregnancy advice can be confusing or worse – completely wrong.
So to help you navigate the waves of the incredibly strange and confusing time that pregnancy can be, we’re busting some of the top myths you’ve either heard or will hear when expecting a child.
- You can’t drink coffee
If you literally can not imagine getting through the day without coffee then don’t panic – you can drink coffee when pregnant. You just can’t drink a lot of it. It’s recommended that pregnant women consume less than 200mg of caffeine per day, which is about equivalent to one cup of coffee. However, be aware that different brands of coffee will contain varying levels of caffeine per cup and decaf coffee sometimes does still have some caffeine in it. Always read the labels and err on the side of caution.
- You’re eating for two
Yes, you have another life inside of you that you need to feed and nourish but this doesn’t mean that you have to double your calorie intake. In fact, you should aim to eat around 300 extra calories, on top of the recommended 2,000 calories per day for an adult woman. That said, if you’ve been pregnant before, you’ll know that sticking to a certain eating routine or regime isn’t always feasible due to unpredictable food aversions and morning sickness. So really, the best advice is to eat what you can, when you can and try to sway towards the healthiest options.
- You can’t dye your hair
If you’re a regular salon-goer, the thought of dealing with unbearable dark roots for nine months might seem like a nightmare. But this doesn’t have to be the case. Most research indicates that hair dye is not dangerous during pregnancy. When your hair is being treated in this way, only a small amount of chemicals will be absorbed by the skin and is highly unlikely to reach the foetus. However, if you do still have concerns, consider getting treatments that are further away from your scalp or using pure vegetable dyes instead.
- You can’t eat nuts
For a long time it has been believed that eating nuts during pregnancy may cause your unborn child to develop an allergy. But, if you don’t have a family history of nut allergies, it’s highly unlikely that your child will develop one. If you want to eat nuts, you can as they are an excellent source of both protein and unsaturated fats.
- You can’t go on a plane
If you have a normal, low risk pregnancy, it’s actually safe to fly during most of it. Of course, if you’re suffering from morning sickness or feeling uncomfortable during the end of your pregnancy, you might not want to. The reason why you’re told not to fly during your last trimester is to do with the airlines and their specific rules.
- You should stay away from cats
It’s not dangerous to be around or pet a cat during pregnancy. You may have heard of toxoplasmosis which is a parasite that cats carry in their faeces which may cause miscarriage if you pick it up in early pregnancy. However, the chances of catching it are low. If you have already caught it once, you can’t catch it again and if you live with cats, there’s a good chance that you’ve already had it and built up an immunity to it. If you do have a cat, avoid cleaning out the litter tray and if you still have concerns you can pay to get your cat tested for toxoplasmosis as an extra precaution.
- You’ll crave pickles
Pickles are often the most stereotyped pregnancy craving when it comes to TV or movies. But not all women will crave them. Cravings will vary from woman to woman, using falling in the sweet, salty, spicy or sour categories. It’s very rare for women to crave healthier foods like fruit or vegetables.
- The morning sickness passes after the second trimester
Morning sickness most often starts in the sixth week of pregnancy and lasts until the fourteenth. But while some women can get through the whole nine months without any sickness at all, others will experience it until later into your pregnancy. If this happens, don’t worry but if your sickness is severe, then make an appointment with your doctor.
- You’ll be glowing
We’ve all heard of that mysterious pregnancy glow that women get when they’re expecting but unfortunately it’s not always a reality. In fact, many women can suffer from acne during pregnancy as hormones called androgens can cause excess sebum and oil in the skin.
- Pushing out the baby is fine, it’s the contractions that hurt
If you speak to anyone whose given birth before, each woman will have her own tale of which was the most painful part. Some will say the contractions, others will say the pushing and then there will be those who claim the placenta was the worst part. Honestly, it’s a personal experience and also your birth plan and choice of pain relief will influence how you feel. We hate to be the ones to break it to you, but childbirth tends to be painful, regardless. Whilst pushing might not be the most physically painful part for you, it may be the most exhausting so concentrate on breathing through your contractions, rather than holding your breath to avoid using energy.
- Giving birth is easier if you have wider hips
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘childbearing hips’, but it’s not the width of a woman’s hips that determines the space that the baby has to pass through the birth canal. Instead, it is the shape of the pelvis which is the part of the body that pushes the baby out. Just because you appear to have wide hips does not mean that your pelvis is equally as wide.
- Twins skip a generation
When you find out you’re pregnant, you almost immediately start running through your family tree to see if having twins may be a possibility. But, in fact, the notion that twins skip a generation is a myth. There is a gene which makes women more prone to releasing two eggs and having fraternal twins. However, there is no gene which makes a woman more likely to have identical twins; which happens when one fertilized egg splits in two. When more than one set of identical twins occurs in a family, this is nothing more than a coincidence. So, while fraternal twins can run in families, there is no evidence to suggest that it skips a generation.
- Postnatal depression happens a few days after the birth
Many people believe that if you’re going to suffer from postnatal depression, it will happen rather suddenly, within a few days of giving birth. However, postnatal depression affects all women differently. And while it can happen suddenly, it can be gradual for others. It can be very common to feel down or teary in the first few weeks after birth as your hormones fluctuate and you adjust to the huge life change. If this lasts longer than a couple of weeks or if the feelings worsen, you should always speak to your doctor or health visitor.
- A good cream will help your stretch marks
Stretchmarks are very common during pregnancy and happen when the middle layer of skin (the dermis) becomes stretched and broken in places. Whether or not you get stretchmarks depends on the elasticity of your skin which differs from woman to woman. Although there are many creams on the market that claim to prevent or remove stretchmarks, there is no evidence that any of these are actually effective.
- Spicy food will help labour
When you’re coming towards the end of your pregnancy, feeling uncomfortable and impatient, you’ll almost do anything to get things going and kickstart the journey to meeting the little human you’ve been cooking. But unfortunately there is no known way to induce labour and no food which acts as the catalyst. Labour happens when the baby sends a signal to your uterus that causes it to contract. Although there are many theories on why spicy foods could stimulate contractions, not enough research has been done to validate this.
- Your water breaks when you go into labour
In the movies, when a woman goes into labour, her water always dramatically breaks in an inconvenient situation. But this doesn’t always happen in real life. In fact, in only very few cases does a woman’s water break before she goes into labour. And, it doesn’t always feel like a huge gush. Most of the time, it’s just a trickle which feels embarrassingly like you’ve wet yourself.
- Your lady parts will never be the same
When you get pregnant for the first time, fear emerges that your body will never recover – specifically your nether regions. However, in most cases there’s nothing to worry about. The vagina is made to push out a baby, so, theoretically, nothing should be damaged afterwards. That said, every birth and every woman is different so whether things return to normal, completely depends on your experience and your genetics. Most women say that although their vagina changes slightly after birth, it’s close to what it was before after a few months. To help things as much as possible, do your pelvic floor exercises to strengthen the area.
- The pain is over when the baby is out
Yes, once you hold that baby in your arms you will feel a sense of euphoria and love like you’ve never experienced before but once you bump back down to earth – everything’s not exactly all rosy and perfect. You will be in pain. Downstairs will hurt and parts of you didn’t expect, like your neck and arms, might even hurt too. Your first trip to the bathroom will be…an experience, to say the least and it may hurt to sit down for a good few days afterwards. However, as cliché as it sounds and no matter how many times you’ve heard it, it’s true – when you look at that tiny, perfect baby that you created, every second of pain will feel one million per cent worth it.
What’s the biggest pregnancy myth you’ve heard? Let us know using the hashtag #MyIrishLife
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