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Common Pregnancy Myths

By Emily Lockhart

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Andrea Eisenberg, MD

We have some great news for pregnant women! You don’t have to shun exercise, go through coffee withdrawal, banish the cat from the house, or swear off sushi or travel for your entire pregnancy. In fact, pregnancy is a time for celebrating; not a time to live in fear and stress.

That’s why we’re exposing the 10 most common pregnancy myths—and busting them wide open…

You Can’t Eat Sushi While Pregnant

Pregnant women are supposed to stay away from raw fish which is why most women think they can’t eat sushi. However, it’s not fair to paint all sushi with the same red brush when it’s quite fine to eat some sushi rolls and even sashimi. The biggest concern is salmon, mackerel, shark, tilefish, swordfish, and tuna due to the mercury content, and a tiny bit (i.e., one roll, once a week) really won’t do any harm. Luckily, there are also many vegetarian options that don’t contain fish, so it’s best to stick to those when curbing those sushi cravings.

Intercourse Can Hurt The Fetus

While you might not feel in the mood for sex—due to swollen ankles, morning sickness, and indigestion, abstaining from sex for the sake of your unborn child isn’t necessary. Unless your doctor specifically bans sex due to a serious condition; sex won’t affect your baby. Think about it this way, there are multiple layers of skin plus the amniotic sac cushioning your baby from harm.

No Smoked Salmon on Your Plate

Smoked salmon isn’t wrong, in fact it’s quite healthy due to the fact that it’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids (i.e., DHA), which aid mom’s health. Not to mention the fact that fresh water salmon doesn’t pose any risk of mercury poisoning.

No Coffee When Pregnant

The fact that you should forgo coffee completely when pregnant is foolish. One to 2 cups a day is just fine, just don’t overdo it.

Pregnant Women are Put in a “No Fly” Zone

Many people will tell you that you absolutely can’t fly during your first or last trimester. However, that’s false. Some airlines will prohibit pregnant women from flying during the last trimester, but they’re just afraid you’ll go into labor in the air and mess up the aircraft upholstery.

Being Pregnant Means Eating For Two

While growing a baby does require more nutrients and calories; it only requires about 300 additional calories per day. Eating any more will result in a bigger baby and more difficult weight loss attempts after you deliver.

Stay Away From The Cat When Expecting

Don’t punish poor Fluffy, it’s perfectly safe to pet and cuddle your cat during pregnancy. However, changing its litter box is another story as it can cause toxoplasmosis (a parasitic disease). So put your hubby on litter box duty!

Exercising Can Harm Your Baby

Avoiding exercise when pregnant can actually be more harmful than beneficial. Gentle physical activity—such as yoga, walking, and swimming—will help keep your body, and the baby it’s growing, in good health.  And it will make for an easier, shorter delivery as well.

Pregnant Women Can’t Color Their Hair

Chemicals are never a good thing, especially when they can be absorbed through the scalp. However, the skin only absorbs minute amounts, which aren’t enough to cause a birth defect. It is wise, however, to opt for a hair dye with no or lower ammonia and not dye your hair in the first trimester.

X-rays Are Not Allowed When Pregnant

And the same goes for totally avoiding radiation exposure via microwaves and computer terminals, right? Wrong! While radiation exposure should be avoided by everyone (not just pregnant women) whenever possible, one chest x-ray if needed, or dental x-rays will not expose your fetus to detrimental levels. You will be given a shield for your belly. And the same goes for using the microwave oven or a computer terminal—moderation is the key.

MD, Obstetrics and Gynecology

Andrea Eisenberg, MD is a board certified OB/GYN in the Metro Detroit area. She has dedicated her life to caring for women through all stages of their lives -- from adolescence, to delivering babies, and later into menopause. Her special interests include minimally invasive surgeries, adolescence, family planning, infertility, and menopause. In her spare time she writes about the human side of medicine on her blog and has several essays published in a variety of journals. To decompress, she enjoys trail running and baking.

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