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10 pregnancy health myths exposed

When you're pregnant, you hear a lot about how to act, eat and predict your baby's sex. Here we expose the myths and give great advice that can help you have a healthy pregnancy.

WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

1. You must take special supplements

TRUE

The NHS recommends taking 10 micrograms of vitamin D each day during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Also take 400 micrograms of folic acid before pregnancy whilst trying to conceive and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy to help protect your baby from spinal cord defects. Eating five-a-day portions of fruit and veg plus oily fish, other lean protein and high-quality carbohydrates is also recommended.

A GP or midwife may also recommend a supplement if your diet isn’t always ideal.

2. Peanuts are out

FALSE

Many pregnant women shun peanuts to avoid triggering an allergy in their unborn baby. Government advice is that a woman can eat peanuts as part of a healthy diet when trying to become pregnant and during pregnancy unless she herself is allergic to peanuts or she is advised by her healthcare professional to avoid peanuts.

3. You forget more

TRUE

Scientists at Australia’s University of New South Wales report that pregnant women undergo memory problems, for example, finding it harder to remember new phone numbers. Many women still suffer from memory problems up to a year after the birth. Researchers don’t know why this happens, but suspect that lack of sleep plays a role.

4. You should give up coffee

FALSE

Actually, you can enjoy a brew, but you need to watch quantity. Too much caffeine (also found in tea, cola and chocolate) can increase your risk of miscarriage. The NHS recommends a limit of 200mg a day of caffeine, the equivalent of two mugs of instant coffee.

5. You can double your portions

FALSE

The latest advice is not to 'eat for two'. In fact, energy needs don’t change in the first six months of pregnancy, and they increase only slightly (by around 200 calories each day) in the last three months.

6. It’s safe to exercise

TRUE

If you were active before and your pregnancy is considered low-risk, there is probably no reason why you can’t keep it up. Just be sensible and work within your comfort level without getting dehydrated. Otherwise, you can keep running until the end if you are comfortable doing it. However, avoid rigorous sport once pregnant if you haven’t been doing it regularly before. If you’re concerned, check with your GP or midwife.

7. Sex is a no-no

FALSE

Sex is safe in a low-risk pregnancy. The baby is well cushioned and no harm will come to it. It’s thought that sex can do the baby some good by increasing pelvic blood flow. For higher-risk pregnancies (women with multiple babies, repeated miscarriages or undiagnosed vaginal bleeding) seek medical advice.

8. A low bump means it’s a boy

FALSE

The baby determines the shape of your bump, so if the baby moves, your bump will change shape and as the head engages ready for birth, the shape will change again.

9. Morning sickness means it's a girl

FALSE

Morning sickness doesn’t indicate the baby’s sex. The confusion could have arisen because women with hyperemesis gravidarum (excessive nausea and vomiting affecting three in 1,000 women) more often carry girls.

10. A natural birth is best

FALSE

A safe birth should be the priority. Women who give birth naturally, without drugs or instruments, tend to recover faster and their babies are less sleepy and quicker to learn breastfeeding. While most women experience no problems giving birth, it’s important they understand that they might need some intervention to keep them and their babies safe.

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Reviewed on January 09, 2013

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