Pregnancy: Myths vs Reality
Pregnancy is a natural part of life, a momentous event that humanity has experienced for centuries. As a result, a lot of information about pregnancy has been learned and a lot has been passed down over the years from generation to generation. But how much of that is really fact and how much of it is simply “old wives tales?”
For the sake of clarity – and sleeping easier at night – here are seven common myths about pregnancy:
Myth: “You’re eating for two.”
The reality is that pregnant women only need an additional 300 calories in their daily diet to promote a baby’s growth. That equates to a glass of milk and half of a sandwich. In fact, moms should only gain 25 to 30 pounds during pregnancy, and less than that if they are overweight or obese at the beginning of pregnancy.
Myth: The flu shot is dangerous while pregnant.
That’s false. The flu shot can actually be a lifesaver for mother and baby and is recommended during pregnancy. Pregnancy alters a woman’s immune system, heart and lungs; therefore, she is more susceptible to influenza. She is also more likely to become extremely sick, along with other risks, if she has the flu. When getting the flu shot, an expecting mother should avoid the nasal spray vaccine. Instead, she can ask for a seasonal inactivated influenza vaccination.
Myth: “Keep fish off your plate.”
Actually, eating two servings of fish per week while pregnant can be healthy. Shrimp, salmon or canned tuna are great options. However, moms-to-be should avoid fish that are high in mercury, such as swordfish, shark or king mackerel. Also, women should avoid raw fish because they are more likely to contain parasites and bacteria. But don’t worry, sushi-lovers, cooked sushi is alright.
Myth: Avoid hair dyes during pregnancy.
The truth is, chemicals from hair dye, perms and relaxers are absorbed through the skin in only minimal amounts. As long as they are used in a well-ventilated space, there should be no problem. If women are still worried, they can wait until after the first trimester and avoid dyes with ammonia or any strong fumes.
Myth: Caffeine while pregnant is a no-no.
Consuming less than 200 mg of caffeine per day is not harmful during pregnancy. In general, 200 milligrams of caffeine is equal to one 12-ounce cup of coffee. Eight ounces of caffeinated tea and most 12-ounce soft drinks have less than 50 milligrams of caffeine, and 1.55-ounce of chocolate has less than 35 milligrams, according to WebMD.
Myth: “You cannot fly while pregnant.”
Au contraire. Air travel is okay until 36 weeks. However, medical clearance is needed if mom has any pregnancy complications, such as preterm labor, lung or heart disease. Radiation exposure is minimal, but a pat-down rather than security scanner is recommended. Be sure to wear a seatbelt while seated due to the risk of unexpected turbulence. Also, get up and walk around occasionally, every one to two hours, and wear compressive socks.
Myth: Having a high-risk pregnancy means there will be complications.
Rest easy. High-risk pregnancy means there is a higher likelihood for complications, but it does not mean there will be difficulties during pregnancy. High-risk simply means that the mother will need extra monitoring and possibly extra treatment to improve her health and the baby’s health.
For information on Maternal Fetal Medicine services in the Pine Belt, call Hattiesburg Clinic Maternal Fetal Medicine at 601.579.5100.
At Hattiesburg Clinic, we offer the full spectrum of prenatal, delivery, and postpartum care for women with high-risk pregnancies who need these services. In addition, the Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist has access to the tools and services of Hattiesburg Clinic OB-GYN prenatal services, including ultrasound technology and laboratory.