When it comes what’s right for your body when you’re pregnant, there are a whole host of myths that get passed from generation to generation that aren't always helpful. From the silly to the scaremongering, we expose the whoppers and reveal the reality
Can the shape of your bump tell you the sex of your baby? Is it safe to stroke cats and what about that thing everyone says about you being able to eat for two (we like that one!)?
When it comes to pregnancy, it’s amazing how many colourful truths people pass down to each other through the generations. But what’s fact and what’s colourful fiction? Here, we break it down…
Myth 1: You should eat for two when you’re pregnant
This is one of the most well-known and well-loved pregnancy myths, but it's unfortunately a big no-no when you’re pregnancy. Not only should you not eat for two, but you actually don’t need any extra calories at all until you’re in the third trimester. Annoying, right?
When you reach your third trimester, you can tuck into another 200 calories per day. But don’t get too excited as a 200-calorie snack isn’t actually very much – we’re talking half a sandwich, two pieces of wholegrain toast with olive oil spread, or a small portion of nuts, dried fruit and seeds. Hmm…
Wondering why eating too many calories is a problem? According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, it increases your risk of miscarriage or having a premature birth, or developing gestational diabetes or high blood pressure.
Myth 2: The shape of your bump will tell you whether you’re having a boy or a girl
False again. While it would be super-handy to work out the sex of your baby just from the way you’re carrying your bump, there is no scientific evidence to support this. The shape of your bump is actually dependent on the size of your baby and their position in your womb. Gender plays no part in that.
Myth 3: You can’t touch cats while you’re pregnant
Another wrong ‘un. There’s no need to miss out on the calming effects of petting your puss, but we would recommend that you avoid changing your cat’s litter tray: cat poo can carry a parasite called toxoplasmosis that is dangerous to your baby, and can lead to miscarriage. (Saying that: according to a recent study, cat-owners are no more likely to get toxoplasmosis than someone who doesn’t own a cat.)
If you’re really stuck for cat litter-clearing and need to do it yourself, Cats Protection advises donning protective gloves and an apron, and washing your hands thoroughly.
Myth 4: You need to stop exercising when you’re pregnant
This is a big, fat false. The UK’s Chief Medical Officers actually recommend exercising in pregnancy for 150 minutes a week because of the physical and mental benefits it brings for you and your baby. These include reducing your risk of developing constipation and varicose veins, plus making you less likely to experience anxiety and depression. You’ll also sleep better and have more energy, and your chances of needing a Caesarean section are lowered. Meanwhile, your baby will be less stressed and tolerate labour better.
Not sure where to get started? Jessica Ennis-Hill’s pregnancy exercise app, Jennis Pregnancy, has easy-to-follow physiotherapist-devised exercise routines, each tailored to your stage in pregnancy and designed to support the way your muscles are growing, changing and adapting. Find out more about busting pregnancy exercise myths.
Myth 5: Morning sickness is worse if you’re expecting a girl
Completely false. The thinking behind this one is that if you’re pregnant with a girl, you are exposed to double the amount of female sex hormones, and this could make you feel sick. The reality is that morning sickness strikes in the first trimester when your baby is teeny tiny and is giving off very low levels of sex hormones. So nope. Another myth busted.
Myth 6: You can’t fly in your first or last trimester
Wrong again, though we do kind of get why this myth started – you may simply feel too lousy in your first trimester to travel much and then in your last trimester, it can feel too uncomfortable.
However, if you feel well enough, you can actually fly right up until the last month or so of your pregnancy. Different airlines have different rules on this, so check before you book. British Airways, for example, says you can’t fly after the end of your 36th week if you’re pregnant with one baby, while for easyJet the cut-off is after the end of your 35th week. Both airlines say they won’t let you fly after the end of your 32nd week if you’re pregnant with twins. Bear in mind that from your 28th week, you should travel to the airport with a a letter from your doctor, stating your due date and that you’re well enough to fly – the airline might ask to see it before they let you board.
Myth 7: You should stop eating sushi
You guessed it – this is false, too. You can eat sushi, says the NHS – you just need to choose your sushi super-carefully. There are two key points here. 1) Avoid shark and swordfish as these may contain a lot of mercury, which can affect your baby’s nervous system, and 2) only eat sushi made using pre-frozen fish – this freezing process kills a parasitic worm inside some fish that can make you sick. Luckily, under EU law, raw fish used to make sushi must be frozen first. But it pays to be cautious, and only buy sushi from big supermarkets or sushi chains. If you’re concerned, you can always stick to vegetarian sushi.
Here's to not falling for any of those pregnancy myths... Got any you'd like to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org