There are so many myths about pregnancy out there in the universe. Some of them are kind of funny, (like putting your hands above your head will cause a miscarriage), and some are just downright WRONG (like you shouldn’t have sex because it can hurt the baby). What is fact and what is fiction when it comes to information about pregnancy? Where should you go to get your information? Down the Google Rabbit Hole? There are plenty of guilt-inducing things to do during pregnancy, but there are lots of lovely things you can do guilt-free.
1. NO EXERCISE IN THE FIRST TRIMESTER – FICTION
You may not feel like exercising in your first trimester. You’re probably feeling super fatigued and could fall asleep just about anywhere. That fatigue is caused by a hormone called progesterone. Progesterone is produced by your ovaries. It helps the fertilized egg attach to the wall of the uterus and then your placenta starts to produce progesterone to prevent a miscarriage. If the only thing you do during your first trimester is walking 20 minutes a day, your body will be better off than not exercising at all.
Sometimes pregnancy nausea makes us just want to lie on the couch and wait till the nausea goes away. That will be a pretty long wait for most women though. Pregnancy nausea usually lasts 3months – the first trimester. More than half of all pregnant women will experience nausea, also known as Morning Sickness. Although ask any pregnant woman and she will confirm it doesn’t only come in the morning!
The increase in hormone levels really begins around week 6 and continues through the next 6-8 weeks of your pregnancy. You will be surprised to find that exercise actually help alleviate the Morning Sickness. Even if, you feel like crap, you can rest assured that this is a sign of a healthy pregnancy. I know that is not much consolation but if you get out and exercise, you will feel so much better.
If you have been exercising before you got pregnant, keep moving. Getting started is half the battle. As Nike says, “Just Do It!” If you haven’t been exercising, it’s okay to start. Some things that are safe to do during pregnancy are:
- Prenatal Yoga or Yoga for Pregnancy
- Pelvic Tilts or Cat Cow stretches and Squatting
- Belly Dancing
- Indoor Cycling
- Any aerobic activity that gets your heart rate up, as long as the room you are in is not kept warm or hot.
The Bottom Line About Exercise in Pregnancy:
- Exercise is so good for your health, in any trimester of pregnancy.
- Research has shown that the expecting mother who exercises, regularly, will improve her baby’s cardiovascular health as well as her own.
- You will decrease the risk of too much weight gain, back pain issues, and you will recover faster from childbirth.
- According to Medical News Today “Research shows that when pregnant women exercise, fetal heart rate is lower. Newborns may also have a healthier birth weight, a lower fat mass, improved stress tolerance, and advanced neurobehavioral maturation.”
- Unless your doctor or midwife told you not to exercise…
- GET MOVING NOW!
2. YOU MUST EAT THREE MEALS A DAY AND YOU’RE EATING FOR TWO – FICTION
3 meals a day is simply not enough! The main reason 3 meals are not enough for a pregnant woman is that you need to keep your blood sugars level by actually eating 6 or 7 small meals a day. Eating 6-7 small meals before you get hungry can help regulate your blood sugars and help you to get the right foods. Not waiting till you are hungry can also help you eliminate the chance of feeling nauseated. You are eating for two but you really only need and extra 300 calories a day.
What does 300 calories look like?
- 2 Cups of whole milk = 292 calories
- 2 eggs, 1 piece of whole wheat toast, 1 pat butter, 2 strips turkey bacon = 360 calories
- 1 Jack in the Box breakfast sandwich = 280 calories
- Burger King Bacon Cheeseburger Deluxe =– 290 calories
- 1 Cup of vanilla ice cream = 270 calories
- (2 ½ cups watermelon = 100 calories
- 16 strawberries = 100 calories)
You can see that 300 calories can be made up of quite a few things. Make those 300 calories count. You need 80-100 grams of protein daily. One way to make sure you are getting enough protein is to set your phone alarm to go off once every hour during the day. When the alarm goes off, eat something with protein in it. This will help you avoid nausea and feed your baby the protein your growing baby needs. Every single cell is formed from protein.
Here a few protein snack suggestions to get you through the day
- 10 almonds = 2.5 grams protein
- 2 TBS peanut butter = 8 grams protein
- 1 stick string cheese = 7-8 grams
- 1 Cup Greek Yogurt = 17 grams
- 1/3 Cup hummus = 6.5 grams protein
The Bottom Line on Eating a Healthy Pregnancy Diet
- Add 300 extra calories/day and get 2200-2400 calories daily.
- Eat 80-100 grams of protein every day
- Eat 6-7 small meals/day to keep blood sugar steady and feed your body for the hard work of growing a person.
3. NO COFFEE DURING PREGNANCY – FICTION
If you used to visit Starbucks several times a day before you got pregnant, or drank several sodas throughout your day, yes, IT IS TIME TO KNOCK IT OFF! That extra caffeine and sugar can really add a buzz to your day. But it is also adding a buzz to your baby’s day. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 200 milligrams of caffeine each day during pregnancy is safe.
Since the levels of caffeine in different coffees, teas, or sodas can vary, you will need to read some labels.
How Much Caffeine is in my Favorite Caffeine Beverage?
- 12oz coffee = 200mg
- Decaf = 3mg
- French Press = 107mg
- Drip Brewed = 95mg
- Cappuccino = 154mg
- Cold Brew = 159mg
- 1 Cup Black Tea = 47mg
- 1 Cup Green Tea = 25mg
- 1 Cup Cola = 39mg
4. NO DELI MEATS AND NO SOFT CHEESES DURING PREGNANCY – a little bit of Fact & Fiction
The biggest fear about eating deli meats come from being exposed to Listeria. The risk of being exposed to Listeria is very low. The processes of pasteurization and cooking helps eliminate Listeria. If you are a cautious person, you can skip the deli while you’re pregnant. That may take a bit more food prepping time for you; but it may be worth it you. You can re-heat the deli meats before you eat them. You can totally avoid them during pregnancy and eat other foods. That’s up to you.
The fear of Listeria also arises when it comes to eating soft cheeses during pregnancy. Pregnant women should avoid eating any cheeses that were mold-ripened, or are uncooked, or un-pasteurized, or have a white rind. You could eat Brie that has been cooked, like Brie cooked in a filo dough, as long as the cheese has been heated well. Eating goat cheese is safe as long as it has been cooked. To be on the safe side just don’t eat soft cheeses.
- Re-heat the deli meat if you’re concerned
- Eat Cottage cheese
- Cream Cheese
- All hard cheeses are okay to eat in pregnancy.
5. NO FLYING AFTER YOUR SECOND TRIMESTER – FICTION and FACT
You can fly whenever you want up to 36-37 weeks of pregnancy. If you’re worried, ask your OBGyn, or your midwife. Check with the airline you’re planning to fly on to see if they have any requirements or specific restrictions. The cabin of an airline is pressurized so it should not affect your pregnancy. It is safe to fly when pregnant for most healthy low-risk, uncomplicated pregnancies.
But depending on the airline, some may require a letter from your doctor or midwife saying you are healthy and safe to fly. Some airlines have no restrictions up to 36 weeks of pregnancy and you can fly whenever you want to.
Bottom Line on Flying While Pregnant:
- Check with your doctor or midwife
- Check with the specific airline to see what requirements or restrictions they have.
6. NO SUSHI AND NO SEAFOOD – FICTION
Certain fish is really healthy for expecting moms because fish is loaded with Omega3 fatty acids and high in protein and low in fat. Omega3 fatty acids boost the heart, immune system’s ability to fight disease and inflammation. It also supports the mom’s and baby’s brain, eyes, and central nervous system.
Eating raw fish can be risky because of the risk of parasites in the raw fish. Since most fish is flash frozen before it’s shipped, that kills the parasites. You’re unlikely to find parasites in farmed fish, so ask where they get their fish if you really want your dose of sushi. After all, there are millions of Japanese women who are eating and have eaten sushi throughout their pregnancies.
The other fear of eating fish is the level of mercury in the fish. The fish that are high in Mercury are: shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. According to Parents Magazine “it is safe to eat up to 12oz. of tuna a week and other low-mercury fish like salmon, shrimp, catfish, pollock, and fish sticks.”
The Bottom Line About Sushi and Other Fish in Pregnancy:
- Check with the restaurant for the supplier source for sushi
- Ask if it’s been flash frozen
- Avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish
- Limit Tuna and other low-mercury fish to no more than 12oz/week
7. YOU SHOULD STOP DYING YOUR HAIR – FICTION
Studies have not conclusively shown that hair dye affects the fetus. Since chemicals can be absorbed through the skin, it might be prudent to avoid hair dye in the first trimester. Or you might ask your hair dresser if there are more “natural dyes” with less chemicals she can use at least through that first trimester.
The smell of the dye and other chemicals around you in a salon might be the biggest problem, especially in the first trimester. Make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area especially if you’re sensitive to smells during pregnancy.
Bottom Line About Hair Dye and Pregnancy:
- Go ahead and look your best.
- If you want to dye your hair, it is considered safe.
You can go ahead and enjoy your pregnancy. Get active. Eat well. Look your best. Travel. Enjoy this special time in your life.