Pregnancy Myth Busters – Myth vs Fact
January 18, 2017
Pregnancy myths: they’ve been around for decades, maybe longer, yet always seem to keep circulating and confusing women. You’d think by now the truth would be obvious, but there always seems to be a new spin on an old wives’ tale or someone whose pregnancy confirmed one, usually coincidentally. Until someone comes up with some news ones, we’ll help debunk some of the ones still going around to hopefully put your mind at ease about some misconceptions you may have.
Myth: Going through the airport scanner is dangerous
From the TSA website’s blog you can read all about this myth, but basically it says, “According to research conducted by the Center for Devices and radiological Health of the Food and Drug Administration, it is safe for everyone, including pregnant women, to go through these machines.”
The scanner is not an x-ray machine, but rather uses non-ionizing electromagnetic waves that reflect off the body. So take that trip and don’t worry about the scanner. Or if you still worry about the scanner for some reason, you can opt for a pat-down. From personal experience, I prefer the scanner.
Myth: Weight-lifting is bad
Exercise during pregnancy is not only safe, but recommended by the ACOG (The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists). The only caveat is extreme exercise that can affect your balance or impact sports that could cause trauma to your abdomen. As far as weight-lifting is concerned, doctors generally say you can continue what you were doing before you were pregnant, but to pay attention to your body and consider using lighter weight with more reps. Again, check with your doctor as soon as you find out you’re pregnant to get specific advice about the right exercise regimen for you. But keep in mind that research has found that women who exercised consistently throughout their pregnancy had less unplanned cesarean sections, a smaller likelihood of developing gestational diabetes and were less susceptible to depression.
Myth: You can’t get a flu shot
Not only is it safe to get the flu shot during pregnancy, but failing to do so and then coming down with the flu could be dangerous for you and your baby, according to a recent report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Pregnant women who get the flu are more likely to be hospitalized and even die than non-pregnant women. The risks of the vaccine are minuscule in comparison to the risks of not getting it, so do yourself and your baby a favor and get the flu shot.
Myth: Your baby will be hairy if you have heartburn
This myth was finally put to the test by researchers from Johns Hopkins Medical Institution and, surprisingly, they confirmed it. They found that the hormone that relaxes the esophageal sphincter causing your heartburn may also regulate your baby’s hair growth. However, there have been plenty of women who have experienced excruciating heartburn only to bear blatantly bald babies. So while there are other factors at play that affect hair growth, maybe the idea of a luscious head of hair on your new baby can give you hope as you deal with that horrible heartburn.
You shouldn’t take hot baths when pregnant
Everyone who’s warned you against hot-tubbing or taking hot baths is actually right! Research conducted by the Organization of Teratology Information Services found that pregnant women with high body temperatures are at an increased risk of having babies with birth defects including congenital heart defects, cleft lift and spina bifida. Because hot tubs are programmed to maintain a hot temperature usually around 104 degrees and it only takes your body 10-20 minutes to raise your body temperature to a dangerous 102 degrees (during pregnancy), the ACOG warns against using hot tubs, saunas, or anything else that can raise your body temperature above 102.2 degrees. Hot baths can be okay because your upper body is usually not completely submerged and the temperature cools off with time, unlike a hot tub that maintains a hot temperature. Follow the ACOG’s advice and talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.
Myth: You should only start taking prenatal vitamins when you find out you’re pregnant
To reduce the risk of birth defects, taking a prenatal vitamin before you become pregnant is recommended by the ACOG. This is because a lot of these defects, like Spina Bifida, occur early in pregnancy and if your body’s vitamin stores, especially folate stores, are low, it could affect the growing fetus. It is recommended to begin taking prenatal vitamins a month before you get pregnant or, as my doctor recommended, to just always take one even if I’m not planning on getting pregnant, just in case.
Don’t eat fish during pregnancy
The blanket statement “you can’t eat fish during pregnancy,” is false. In fact, eating fish during pregnancy can be healthy for you and your growing baby, especially Coldwater fish that has lots of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish that are high in mercury, like swordfish, shark, tilefish, and king mackerel should be avoided and raw fish that is likely to contain parasites and bacteria should also be avoided, according to ACOG. But cooked sushi and other fish is just fine.
Craving salt means boy, sweets mean girl
Hate to break it to you if you had your hopes up, but there is no research out there that confirms that your cravings determine the sex of your baby. Sweet, salty, savory, spicy – the odds are 50/50 all around.
You have to get rid of your cat
If you have a beloved kitty, people may taunt you about the dangers of cat ownership while pregnant, especially the cat-haters. The misconception lies with origin of the infection of concern, toxoplasmosis. It isn’t your cat itself that carries the disease, but its feces, that can be potentially infectious with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. If infected, your baby is at risk for developing birth defects such as hearing loss, vision problems, and intellectual disabilities, according to the ACOG. But you don’t have to get rid of your cat, just have someone else change the kitty litter. Keep in mind that eating raw or undercooked meats or unwashed vegetables also puts you at risk because it is a parasite that lives in soil. So take that, cat-haters!
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