Breaking down the do’s and don’ts when you’re expecting
When it comes to pregnancy, everything from web articles and books to relatives and strangers have advice for mom on the do’s and don’ts. Some of the advice may be pretty sound, but some of it is complete nonsense.
With all the pregnancy “advice” out there, it’s hard to know what – or whom – to believe. Dr. Elizabeth Lavery of Novant Health UVA Health System Lake Manassas OB/GYN in Manassas, Virginia, gives us her take on ten of the most popular pregnancy myths.
MYTH Skip the coffee.
FACT “One 12-ounce cup of coffee a day is perfectly fine,” Lavery said. “Caffeine in moderation has never been shown to be dangerous in pregnancy. Just don’t drink the whole pot!”
MYTH You can’t color your hair while you’re pregnant.
FACT “Hair dyes and perms and things like that are completely fine, though we usually tell people to wait until after the first trimester,” Lavery said. “The skin absorption of chemicals in hair dye is minimal, but make sure the space is well ventilated so you aren’t breathing in the fumes.”
MYTH Manicures are out.
FACT “Manicures and pedicures are no problem during pregnancy,” Lavery said. “In any case, make sure you’re in a well ventilated space to avoid breathing in fumes.”
MYTH It’s okay to have a drink.
FACT “No amount of alcohol use is safe during pregnancy,” Lavery said. “The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends no alcohol during pregnancy.”
MYTH You can’t fly during your first or third trimester.
FACT “This is simply not true,” Lavery said. “If you have a low-risk, healthy pregnancy, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to fly before 36 weeks. However, always discuss your travel plans with your doctor before booking a flight.”
MYTH Say no to fish.
FACT “Fish that have low levels of mercury, such as tilapia and salmon, are actually good for women during pregnancy,” Lavery said. “Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for both mother and baby.” Lavery suggests skipping raw sushi and avoiding fish like mackerel, shark, tilefish, and swordfish, all of which are high in mercury.
MYTH No hot baths.
FACT “It’s fine to take baths as long as the water isn’t too hot,” Lavery said. “Avoid saunas and whirlpool spas which can raise your body temperature over 102 degrees. A temperature that high could become dangerous for both you and your baby.”
MYTH Don’t lift your hands over your head.
FACT “A popular wives’ tale says that if a woman lifts her arms above her head while pregnant, the cord could get wrapped around the baby’s neck,” Lavery said. “You won’t do any harm to your baby by lifting your arms.”
MYTH I’m eating for two!
FACT “On average, pregnant women only need about 300 extra calories a day,” Lavery said. “Eat to your hunger, but follow your normal habits with maybe a little more snacking to get those extra calories in. Talk with your doctor if you feel you have a diminished or supercharged appetite.”
MYTH You cannot exercise during pregnancy.
FACT “Regular exercise has many benefits in pregnancy, including decreasing the chances of developing gestational diabetes or delivering by cesarean section,” Lavery said. “There are some pregnancy complications where exercise is not recommended, and even healthy women may need to make some modifications so be sure to discuss your plans with your doctor.”