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10 Pregnancy Myths: Fact or Fiction?

Posted by Sandy Caetano | Wednesday February 23, 20119 comments

We’ve heard the old wives' tales on what you should and shouldn’t do when you’re expecting.  Must you really forgo hot baths, your cat, shellfish, and foot massages?  Not wanting to give up on these little (okay, huge) indulgences, we chatted with Dr. Grace Liu, OBGYN at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital, to sort the mythical facts from fiction.

Myth #1: Forgo all shellfish
Fact: There’s no reason to ban seafood from your diet unless it’s raw. The benefits far outweigh the risks. Fish is an excellent source of omega-3s and nutrients such as protein.

“Some patients who have severe allergies to shellfish in their family may want to try to avoid it because of concerns for allergies the baby may get - though this hasn’t been proven,” says Dr. Liu.

Myth #2: Skip the hot baths
Fact: Soaking in a warm bath is safe and may help relieve backache and pelvic pressure. Dr. Liu suggests making sure the water temperature is close to your body temperature. When water is too hot, you get overwhelmed and that increases your heart rate, reduces blood flow to your baby and potentially puts your baby under stress.

Myth #3: Cut out caffeine
Fact: Moms-to-be can breathe easy - you don’t have to toss your secret stash of chocolate or lock up the coffee for nine months. Dr. Liu says a cup of coffee, cola, or caffeinated tea every day is okay.

Myth #4: Don’t go near Kitty
Fact: Before you send “Snowball” packing, understand that petting your cat and playing with them is safe. Just don’t go near the litter box - cat stool can contain a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, which can cause serious infections in humans and deformities in developing fetuses.  According to Dr. Liu, this is more common in outdoor cats.

Myth #5: Don’t eat tuna
Fact: Fish with high levels of mercury like tuna, swordfish and shark are good to stay away from when pregnant. If you are going to eat tuna, limit yourself to one 6oz can per week.

“Too much of this fish and the high levels of mercury could potentially cause problems for the baby,” advises Dr. Liu.

Myth #6: You should eat for two
Fact: Don’t double your portions: instead, boost the nutrients. According to BabyCentre.com, if you’re at a healthy weight you don’t need additional calories in the first trimester. In the second you need 300 extra calories a day, and in the third about 450 extra calories a day. It only takes a few glasses of low-fat milk and a handful of sunflower seeds or tuna sandwich to add enough calories for that last trimester.

Myth #7:  You can’t have x-rays when you’re pregnant
Fact: You can get an x-ray while pregnant. The level of safety depends on the type of x-ray and the amount of radiation you’re going to be exposed to. Experts on BabyCentre.com say if it’s not over 10 rads (the unit of measurement for absorbed radiation), your baby will be fine.

Myth #8: You can determine the sex of your baby by how you are “carrying”
Fact: “No, you can’t,” says Dr. Liu. Technically speaking, the only sure way to find out is through an ultrasound performed during the 20th week of pregnancy. And even that isn’t always 100%.

Myth #9: Foot massages cause labour
Fact: Yes, it's possible but highly unlikely, says Dr Liu.  Finding the right pressure points (around the inner ankle) that could encourage contractions is quite difficult, even for someone who knows exactly where to press like a registered massage therapist or acupuncturist. Foot rubs from the hubby or a pedicurist should be safe.

Myth #10: Avoid sex while pregnant
Fact: Most women who are having a normal pregnancy can continue to have sex right up until their water breaks or they go into labour. You won’t hurt the baby. If you have concerns, talk to your doctor.

“It’s fine, really. Unless you’ve broken your water or your physician has told you not to have sex, it’s perfectly safe,” says Dr. Liu.

Which pregnancy myths are you curious about?
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8 Comments

on February 24, 2011  mamaluv  STAFF said:

I'm no expert either, but I do know from friends who've had tricky pregnancies and been ordered to bed rest that women in those situations should not be riled up. However, if your friend is experiencing a normal, healthy pregnancy, then I'm guessing (again - NO EXPERT) it's okay. I have given and received surprise baby showers and tada - nothing happened.

on February 24, 2011  LaurenBlair  128 said:

*I'm so not an expert*

I guess shock could trigger labour - but I think you would have to be almost at that point anyways. I don't think a surprise party could trigger an early labour.

on February 24, 2011  cathy3087  98 said:

Haha @Becky: I know nothing about this topic but I'm going to take a guess and say a happy surprise is better than stress caused from being yelled at!!!

on February 24, 2011  Becky  13,068 said:

P.s. The same woman later called the baby mommy and had a yell-session...wonder if yelling at a pregnant woman is bad for the pregnancy? hmm...

on February 24, 2011  Becky  13,068 said:

I have a question: This woman told a bunch of us that we can't give our friend a surprise baby shower because the "surprise" will shock her into going into labour.

I rolled my eyes at her predictable melodramatic "fact" ... but just to be on the safe side, anyone here know if it's true or not?

on February 23, 2011  Creamsicle  45 said:

Good information! A lot of moms-to-be these days are excessively paranoid. I have eaten a little sushi and sashimi when I'm pregnant, but I limit it and stick to the safest and most common ones, like salmon, tuna, and yellow tail.

on February 23, 2011  LaurenBlair  128 said:


Wow! This is super informative (not that I'm planning on being pregnant anytime soon.) I thought the majority of these myths were true.

on February 23, 2011  Ali de Bold  STAFF said:

This is great, Sandy! Very informative and interesting. Thank you!

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