Having an optimum pregnancy ensures not just a healthy baby but a happy and healthy mum. There are so many myths that linger around about how to keep healthy whilst pregnant.
The moment you announce you will be overwhelmed with advice from friends, family and ‘expert’ advice books. Once those pregnancy hormones kick in and you start to bond with your unborn baby, the guilt starts creeping in and we want to do what’s best for the baby. Should I eat cream cheese? Can I go to Zumba class? If I hold my hands above my head will it cause the cord to go around the baby’s neck?
All actual worries pregnant women have (yes, probably and absolutely not). I’m here to help you sort out the myths from the facts. Here are the 6 of the most common pregnancy myths debunked.
Myth #1: I can’t take anything whilst pregnant so I must suffer
Getting ill whilst pregnant can lead to confusion on what’s allowed to be taken. Home remedies like honey, lemon and steam inhalation can work well for a sore throat and blocked nose, and Paracetamol is a great universal painkiller and can be taken in pregnancy according to the dosage instructions. There are a lot of medications you can’t take, but many you can, so seek advice from your GP or midwife if you need to take something. Vitamins and supplements are allowed and encouraged. If you find prenatal vitamin pills tough, kids chew-able vitamins are a great substitute. For aches and pains try a good old hot water bottle, ice packs, physiotherapy and an osteopath or chiropractor. Most colds and coughs are viral and will pass on their own.
Myth #2: Eating for two
Eating for two is a myth that needs to be debunked. The saying eating for two isn’t necessarily true. An additional 200 calories are needed during the third trimester only, although pregnancy is tiring and can cause hunger and cravings. I was so hungry the minute I found out with all mine! Staying healthy seems obvious, as long as you have a diet with all the balance of carbohydrates, fats and proteins you need you’ll be fine.
Keeping healthy snacks around the kitchen can increase your health and decreases tiredness. It helps if you can keep on top of the food shopping and try to avoid going when you’re hungry or craving. I remember sending my other half out to buy iceberg lettuce and feta cheese once – I was so happy eating it and then I threw up! Keeping your food healthy during pregnancy reduces your chance of developing gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. If your BMI is over 30 it can impact on your birth choices too, so try not to use pregnancy as an excuse to overeat and eat unhealthy foods that you wouldn’t normally eat.
Myth #3: I need to spend loads on equipment
Not so. There are so many baby and pregnancy products out there but you don’t need them all, and you can actually get away with a very short list, especially for the first 3-4 months. All you really need is a car seat that’s right for your car, somewhere for the baby to sleep, some clothes and cloths to mop up sick and dribble, nappies and wipes. The rest are all nice desirable extras. Even a pram or pushchair isn’t strictly necessary, you could wear baby in a sling or carrier at first which is so much easier than lugging a car seat or shoving a pushchair in and out of the car. You do deserve those extras though, you’re the one going through all the changes!
Myth #4: I can’t exercise during pregnancy
Exercising is seen as a bad idea, many believe that working out puts additional stress on the baby, or that it can cause miscarriage or early labour. This is, in fact, false – doing simple stretches or a little burst of workouts can actually give a beneficial workout to the baby and increase blood flow.
The most popular as well as productive exercises are swimming, low impact aerobics, pregnancy and cycling. If you exercised before pregnancy, there’s no reason to stop if your pregnancy is straightforward. If you’ve had any bleeding or complications, you may be advised differently. You can carry on your normal exercise routine as long as you feel able to, right up until the birth if you like. You may need to take more fluid on board and more breaks than you’re used to but that’s it. Always inform your exercise instructor or trainer that you’re pregnant straight away. If you partake in dangerous sports you might want to rethink how you exercise.
If you’d like to start exercising or you just want to stay active, take a pregnancy specific class like Aquanatal or pregnancy yoga. You’re more likely to have a successful natural birth if you keep active, it also helps prevent deep vein thrombosis, keeps the blood flowing through the placenta and gives the baby good oxygen levels. Always check with your doctor first.
Myth #5: I can’t eat oily fish during pregnancy
Staying away from true sushi i.e. raw fish is a big no-no, but in fact the vast majority of sushi has been frozen first, which kills off the potentially harmful bacteria. Be careful with shellfish and stick to it well cooked. However, eating fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids is great for increasing intelligence and IQ levels in children. Just eating two servings of fish can increase the development of the baby’s brain as well as vision. Be sure to eat fish low in mercury such as tuna, salmon, cod, and shrimp, and no more than 3 portions of tuna per week (which is a lot for most people).
Myth #6: If I prepare enough I can have the perfect birth
The perfect labour and birth. Many believe it should be natural with no interference of drugs. It is important to remember that everyone is different, even if you have the perfect pregnancy be prepared for things to change during labour. No matter how well prepared you and your body are for labour, things can happen beyond your control and none of it is your fault. All you can do is prepare your mind and body, educate yourself, ask questions and trust in your healthcare provider.
The main thing to remember is to enjoy the 9 months before your little arrival, savour and relax. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, and take as well-meaning people say with a pinch of salt! You’ll find your own way. You’ve got this.