As you excitedly plan your pregnancy announcement and your baby bump starts to show, don't be surprised to receive a barrage of well-meaning advice as well as superstitions from friends and loved ones. To help you differentiate between fact and fiction, we have compiled a list of pregnancy myths to guide you through a safe and enjoyable pregnancy.
While pregnancy is definitely the time to abandon risky activities, doing light regular exercises carries more benefits than risks. Researchers have found that women who stay active tend to have shorter labours, regain their pre-pregnancy shape, have lower possibility of postnatal depression and sleep better than those who do not exercise. Specialists believe that aerobic exercises keep your heart and lungs healthy. Brisk walking in the morning can make a difference in your health too.
According to fitness experts, light swimming is a perfect antenatal exercise. It relieves swelling of your ankles and feet, eases lower back pain, reduces morning sickness, keeps you cool and improves your labour and delivery process.
Unfortunately, being pregnant does not give you the excuse to double your calorie intake. As a guide, you should be looking at an additional 200 to 300 calories a day. Overeating and incorrect food choices can lead to complications such as gestational diabetes and excessive weight gain, both of which can be harmful and may make labour more difficult. Rather than choosing food based on calories, eating well is the key to a healthy pregnancy which means you should be eating good quality protein (e.g. eggs, meat, fish and beans). You should also be eating lots of vegetables and carbohydrates (unrefined) like brown bread, rice etc. You may include good snacks in your diet such as fruits, nuts (avoid peanuts), seeds, oatcakes/biscuits, etc.
One of the most common myths is if the belly hangs low, it is a boy, while a higher ‘hang’ means it’s a girl. The way your belly hangs is dependent on your skeletal structure, the strength of your muscles and the trimester you are in – the belly always hangs as you approach your delivery due date. Ideas such as predicting the baby's sex by dangling a wedding ring over your belly and seeing which way it swings are just folklores. While these urban legends may seem harmless and can be a fun way to get involved with your pregnancy, they could also distract you from potential medical problems. Theories like light bleeding during pregnancy would indicate a body while extreme morning sickness would signify you’re carrying a girl are nowhere proven. While bleeding during pregnancy is common, it’s always safe to check back with your doctor. Even scans aren’t 100% accurate at giving you accurate results of your baby’s ender; the only way to be sure about your baby’s gender is when you meet your baby on your due day.
Here are some tips to avoid backaches. Keep an upright posture; arch your back by pulling your shoulders back but not your abdomen. Avoid wearing shoes with heel heights as it will add unnecessary pressure on your lower back. Pelvic rocking exercises can help to relax your back while squats can help to stretch the muscles of your back.
A normal fetal heart rate is between 110 and 160 beats per minute (bpm). Some may think that if it beats faster (above the range of 140 bpm), it is a girl; if it beats slower, it is a boy. There is no statistical proof to support this theory. Your baby’s heart rate will probably differ from one prenatal visit to another, depending on the age of the foetus and activity level at the time of visit. In addition, stress-related activities may cause changes in a pregnant woman’s heart rate and blood pressure. Chronic anxiety can also affect the heart rate of her developing foetus.
This not true. Making love will not hurt your baby or your partner. In fact, experts encourage lovemaking during pregnancy, as it will help to strengthen the bond with your partner. However, there are a few medical conditions where having sex is not advisable. Do consult your doctor if you are unsure.
This is another superstition. As you start to experience aches everywhere, it can be tempting to sit under a steaming hot shower or relax in a bathtub. Baths are a good form of relaxation and can be beneficial for pregnant women. However, avoid extreme water temperature that is above 38 degrees celsius. This causes your body temperature to rise, and may potentially cause problems for your developing baby, especially during the first trimester. Overheating of your body can also increase the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida, and staying too long under hot water may increase the risk of dehydration and dizzy spells for pregnant woman. Your baby is definitely not in danger of being exposed to germs from bathing as the baby is protected by the amniotic sac and the mucous plug.
Breastfeeding does not minimize the risk of being pregnant. A woman can get pregnant even without getting the first menstrual cycle after delivery, i.e. lactational amenorrhea. It is always advisable to use contraception to avoid an unwanted pregnancy and there are many simple methods available for contraception. Choose the right one for yourself.