From cutting back on caffeine to putting the kibosh on workouts, find out what’s fact and what’s fiction.
Don’t do this. Don’t do that. With all the pregnancy “advice” out there, it’s hard to know what to believe — or whom to believe. But remember, every pregnancy is different, so follow your doctor’s orders above anything else.
MYTH 1: EAT THREE HEALTHY MEALS A DAY
False! You should be eating six or seven small meals (every two to three hours). “Eating frequently and from various food groups will keep your blood sugar in a constant range, which is healthy for you and your baby,” says Stuart Fischbein, M.D., coauthor of “Fearless Pregnancy.” Don’t obsess about food and don’t diet. What was good for you pre-pregnancy is good for you now. And yes, that includes an ice cream sundae with butterscotch sauce if you so desire.
MYTH 2: DECAF ONLY
False! One small cup of coffee a day is perfectly fine. While a recent study at McGill University in Montreal did find that the caffeine in two to three cups of coffee a day increases the risk of miscarriage, it did not consider how the coffee was brewed and the type of coffee used. Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University School of Medicine and coauthor of “A Woman's Guide to Sexual Health,” points out that a French blend served black is much stronger than a weak cup of American coffee mixed with milk. It’s another controversial subject for sure, but moderate caffeine intake isn’t likely to harm you or your baby. The same goes for sodas with a caffeine jolt.
MYTH 3: CUT OUT THE CHEESE
False! Well, you don’t have to cut all the cheeses. Some kinds, like cheddar and Swiss, are innocuous because they have been pasteurized. It’s the soft, unpasteurized products like Brie, feta and goat cheese that might carry food-borne illnesses. If you’re lucky, the market you frequent will carry pasteurized versions — just start looking at labels more often. And then you can still enjoy your crackers with cheese.
MYTH 4: YOU’RE EATING FOR TWO
False! Pregnancy is not a time to pig out. You certainly have a bit more leeway when it comes to a second helping of supper, but on average women need only about 300 extra calories a day.
MYTH 5: SAY SO LONG TO SEAFOOD
False! Chances are that if the reputable (and tasty) sushi bar you love so much has not made you sick pre-pregnancy, you are not at risk when you are with-child. Yes, there is a greater risk of ingesting bad kinds of bacteria from raw foods (so you might feel more comfortable with a cooked-shrimp roll), but if you had spicy yellow fin before realizing you were pregnant, no harm done. The dangerous mercury levels, you ask? Again, it’s all about moderation. Enjoy tuna on rye once a week, not daily. Not all fish are created equal. When perusing a menu, go with seafood with lower mercury levels, like salmon, shrimp and tilapia. Unfortunately, swordfish and tilefish have the highest levels of mercury and should be skipped.
MYTH 6: YOU’LL HAVE TO SUFFER THROUGH SICKNESS
False! Many OTC meds are safe during pregnancy, but somehow women believe they need to put up with migraines and be a slave to the runs. Not so. You should consult your OB/GYN before you take anything, but many experts give the following drugs the green light: Tylenol for headaches and fever; Tums or Mylanta for heartburn; Imodium for diarrhea; Robitussin for colds; and Sudafed or Benadryl for allergies. Many prescription drugs are also OK to continue with during pregnancy, but again, follow your doctor’s orders. Herbal supplements and teas are up in the air. Not much research has been done on their effects on fetuses. The kinds you buy in the grocery store are probably safe, but check with your doctor first. If you need to soothe your nerves and want to take the natural route, meditate or eat a piece of chocolate. We prefer the latter.
MYTH 7: THEY’LL KNOW YOU’RE NOT A NATURAL BLONDE!
False! Being pregnant does not have to compromise your appearance (at least not above the belly), but you do need to be smart. Fischbein says that while there is a theoretical risk associated with coloring your hair (chemicals being absorbed through the scalp), studies have not shown anything conclusive. He recommends avoiding dye for at least the first trimester, when the baby’s organs are forming. Relieve worries by opting for a natural vegetable dye over a semipermanent or permanent product, but Minkin still suggests checking them out with your doctor during the first trimester. Eggplant, anyone?
MYTH 8: EXERCISE IS A NO-NO
False! Clear everything with your OB to be sure, but many docs say that keeping up with mild exercise is just fine. If your pregnancy is sans complications, low-impact workouts can be a great way to control your weight and prep for baby — just be sure to avoid contact sports or exercises that involve lying on your back (this position can reduce blood flow to your brain and uterus).
MYTH 9: MANICURES ARE OUT
False! You don’t need to forgo weekly manis just because you want to be a mommy. “You would need massive and long-term exposure to the products before there was a chance of problems,” Fischbein says. You might get a little nauseous from the fumes with your newfound sensitivity to odors, but if that’s the case, make your appointments for less crowded times of the day. Still freaked out about what’s in the nail polish itself? If you fear exposure to dibutyl phthalate, a much-debated ingredient in some polishes, look for brands that don’t use the stuff like Urban Decay, L’Oreal Jet Set Nail Enamel and Revlon Nail Enamel.