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14 myths about pregnancy

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Most people have heard pregnancy-related advice or information, which often focuses on what different symptoms mean, how to tell the sex of the baby, and what a woman can and cannot do during pregnancy.

Although some pieces of information, particularly those from healthcare professionals, can be accurate and helpful, lots of myths circulate pregnancy.

Here, we look at some popular myths and explain the truth behind them.

a pregnant woman holding her belly and wondering if the myths about pregnancy are correctShare on Pinterest
A person can speak to a healthcare professional about what to expect during pregnancy.

In reality, the rate of teen pregnancies in the United States is slowly decreasing.

Research suggests that this decline is primarily due to the increased use of contraceptives.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source, in 2017, the number of recorded pregnancies for teenagers between 15 and 19 years of age was 194,377. This total is down 7%Trusted Source from 2016.

Twin pregnancies are more common than people might think.

According to the CDCTrusted Source, approximately 128,310 twin babies were born in 2017. Twins account for roughly 33 out of 1,000 births in the U.S.

There is limited evidence to confirm whether this is true.

A small studyTrusted Source from 2006 found that 23 of the 28 participants who reported experiencing moderate-to-severe heartburn had babies with an average or above average amount of hair.

The researchers suggested that this may be due to pregnancy hormones that affect both hair growth and the relaxing of the muscles that separate the esophagus, or food pipe, from the stomach.

People propose many different techniques for predicting the sex of the baby. These range from using the shape of the pregnant woman’s face or belly to guess the sex to seeing how a wedding ring rotates when the woman suspends it from a string and holds it over the belly.

None of these methods are accurate indicators of a baby’s sex.

While it is true that women may need to increase their caloric intake slightly when pregnant, they should avoid overeating.

Overeating can be harmful to both the woman and the fetus, especially if the diet contains a lot of empty calories.

Women should aim for a gradual increase in calories throughout the pregnancy:

  • First trimester: No extra calories are necessary.
  • Second trimester: Experts recommend an additional 340 calories per day.
  • Third trimester: An additional 450 calories per day is the recommendation.

Women should generally focus on continuing with their regular diet, but they should ensure that they are eating nutrient-rich foods.

Most women should engage in light-to-moderate exercise during pregnancy.

A woman who did not exercise regularly before becoming pregnant should talk to a healthcare professional before starting a new routine.

According to one surveyTrusted Source of obstetricians, or doctors specializing in childbirth, more than half of the respondents said that they do not usually recommend that women start a new routine if they were sedentary before becoming pregnant.

However, 97% of the respondents reported recommending light-to-moderate aerobic exercise 2–5 days a week for women in the first trimester.

Despite its name, morning sickness can affect pregnant women throughout the day. Less than 2%Trusted Source of pregnant women experience morning sickness only in the morning.

Morning sickness typically starts by the fourth week and ends by the 16th week.

Pregnant women can eat foods that people often associate with allergies, such as nuts and milk, as long as they are not allergic to them. The baby will not develop an allergy to these foods.

However, a woman should avoid some foods, such as raw meat, seafood, and certain soft cheeses, for other health reasons.

A healthcare professional can provide more information on which foods to avoid.

Learn about nine foods to avoid during pregnancy here.

Sex has no effect on an otherwise healthy pregnancy.

The authors of a reviewTrusted Source of existing research concluded that sex during pregnancy did not increase the risk of preterm labor in low risk pregnancies. They also noted that other potential complications remain unproven.

In rare cases, a doctor will recommend abstaining from having sex during pregnancy. For instance, if heavy bleeding has occurred during the pregnancy or the water has broken, a woman should avoid having sex.

Women who are experiencing placental problems, cervical insufficiency, or any other factors that increase the chance of preterm labor should check with a doctor before having sex.

Learn more about how pregnancy can affect a woman’s sex drive.

Many women try to avoid coming into contact with cats during pregnancy because they have heard that cats can cause an infection.

Cat feces can carry toxoplasmosis, a potentially harmful disease. As a precaution, therefore, a pregnant woman should either wear gloves to change the litter or have someone else do it.

Women do not need to avoid cats during pregnancy as long as they follow this precaution.

Women can still have a cup of coffee each day when pregnant, but they should limit their caffeine intake to 200 mg or less. This amount equates to about 1.5 cups of coffee, where a cup is 8 ounces.

Learn more about the health benefits and risks of drinking coffee.

Pregnancy can be difficult for many women. Hormones, body changes, and tiredness can take their toll on both physical and mental health, as well as affecting a woman’s mood.

It is normal for people not to feel happy all of the time, and pregnant women are no different.

In reality, a woman may be able to have a vaginal birth following a previous cesarean delivery.

The decision to give birth via a cesarean or vaginal delivery depends on how the current pregnancy is progressing, the woman’s labor, and the risk of any potential complications.

Most of the natural and alternative medicines that people recommend to induce labor have no basis in scientific knowledge.

2018 studyTrusted Source found that some herbal medicines may be effective.

However, the popular natural methods that people use to try to induce labor vary in terms of safety:

  • Blue and black cohosh: There is evidenceTrusted Source to suggest that these roots may cause fetal heart failure and stroke, as well as maternal complications during labor.
  • Pineapple: There is no harm in eating pineapple, but it may cause heartburn.
  • Castor oil: This oil may cause uterine irritation and contractions, but they are often a result of diarrhea rather than labor.
  • Spicy foods: There is no proof that eating spicy foods will induce labor. They can cause gastrointestinal upset and heartburn, however.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not regulate herbal medicines in the same way that they assess standard medicines. As a result, people should discuss their use with a healthcare professional.

Many myths surround pregnancy, some of which involve incorrect information or advice that may be harmful.

A woman should talk to a doctor before making any significant dietary, healthcare, or lifestyle changes during pregnancy.

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