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13 Pregnancy Myths by Dr. Audrey Marsidi

13 Pregnancy Myths

Everything, from magazines to mother-in-laws, seem to have a surplus of advice on pregnancy dos and don’ts, but who should we believe?  OB/GYN , Dr. Audrey Marsidi, fills EZDOCTOR in on the truth!

Myth #1

Being Pregnant Means I’m Eating for Two


The ACOG (American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) recommends only an additional 300 calories per day. Protein should increase to only 60-80 grams a day and the total weight gain for the whole pregnancy should be about 25-30lbs. (5lbs 1st Trimester, 10lbs 2nd Trimester, 12lbs 3rd Trimester).

Myth #2

Pregnant Women Shouldn’t Eat Seafood

REALITY: False but be cautious and limit yourself

Seafood is an excellent source of protein, vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids but may contain high levels of mercury, which is harmful to a baby's developing brain and nervous system.

Keep your fish intake to minimum and follow these guidelines:

-Tuna (and the large predators)

-Albacore: FDA says no more than 6 ounces a week

-Chunk Light: FDA says no more than 12 ounces a week

-Salmon, Rainbow Trout, and Canned Mackerel

-Limit to 2 servings a week (which is about 2-3 ounces a serving)

Myth #3

Pregnant Women Can’t Eat Cheese

REALITY: Somewhat True

Only soft cheeses should be avoided: Feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined, and Mexican-style cheese as they are often unpasteurized and may cause Listeria infection

Safe Dairy Products:

-Hard cheese

-Processed cheese

-cream cheese

-cottage cheese


Myth #4

Pregnant Women Should Stay Away From Cold Cuts

REALITY: False, but be very careful

Cold cuts can carry a bacteria called Listeria and chemicals like Nitrates that can be harmful. The risks of Listeria include miscarriage, premature delivery, and an infection in the newborn (causing a 25% mortality rate).

Symptoms of Listeriosis are almost mild flu like symptoms: headaches, muscle aches, fever, nausea, and vomiting. If the infection spreads to the nervous system it can cause stiff neck, disorientation or convulsions. Listeriosis is most common during the third trimester, when your immune system is somewhat suppressed.

Avoid getting Listeriosis and reheat the cold cuts until steaming hot.

Myth #5

Pregnant Women Should Never Eat Hot Dogs

REALITY: Mostly True

Hot dogs can carry risk of Nitrites and Listeria. They are associated with cancer of the oral cavity, urinary bladder, esophagus, stomach and brain. If you are going to eat hot dogs be sure to buy the Nitrite Free ones and that they are well cooked, to prevent listeria, and limit the amount you eat.

Myth # 6

Pregnant Women Should Avoid Reptiles

REALITY: Very True

Avoid contact with lizards, iguanas, turtles, and snakes. The salmonella virus is transferred through their feces.

Myth #7

One Should Never Dye Their Hair During Pregnancy

REALITY: Still Unknown

Not much is known about the safety of hair dyes in pregnancy. It's likely that when you apply hair dye, a very small amount is absorbed into your body. The Food and Drug Administration offers these recommendations:

-Don't leave dye on your hair any longer than needed

-Rinse your scalp thoroughly with water after use of hair dye

-Wear gloves with applying hair dye (if doing it yourself)

-Hormonal changes can cause your hair to react differently when you're pregnant, and can leave you with an unexpected color.

There is limited research showing that it is safe to color or perm your hair while pregnant. Consider waiting until after the first trimester. Try highlighting or frosting your hair as very little of the color touches your scalp minimizing your exposure.

Myth # 8

Pregnant Women Should Not Paint


Painting is fine as long as you limit yourself and know the precautions.

Nails: No data supports that it is harmful, just avoid the fumes

Baby Nursery/Home: Use low VOE paint, ample air flow by opening the windows, and consider wearing a mask

Myth #9

Pregnant Women Can Use a Hot Tub  


ACOG states that becoming overheated in a hot tub is not recommended during pregnancy. Never let your core body temperature rise about 102.2° F.

-The Organization of Teratology Information Services (OTIS) says a body temperature of 101° F can lead to an increased risk of birth defects during the first trimester.

-American Journal of Epidemiology (2003) say women who used hot tubs or Jacuzzi in early pregnancy were 2x as likely to have a miscarriage as women who did not.

A hot bath, that is not uncomfortable or scalding, is a safer way to relax.

Myth # 10

It Is Unsafe for Pregnant Women to Have Sex


Sex is safe unless you have: Placenta Previa, Preterm Labor, Cervical Incompetence, or PPROM. Just make sure you are comfortable at all times.

Myth # 11

Pregnant Women Should Avoid Flying

REALITY: False but use precautions

Flying is safe but use caution:

-Avoid after 36 weeks

-Bring your records

-Get up and walk around

-Stay hydrated

Myth # 12

Pregnant Women Should Not Drink Caffeine

REALITY: False but limit yourself

Limit your caffeine intake to less than 300mg a day

-8 ounce cup of coffee has 150 mg

-12 ounce glass of caffeinated soda contains anywhere from 30-60 mg

-The amount of caffeine in a chocolate bar is equal to 1/4 cup of coffee

Myth # 13

You Cannot Use Artificial Sweeteners if you are Pregnant

REALITY: False but be choosy

The use of saccharin is strongly discouraged during pregnancy because it can cross the placenta and may remain in fetal tissues. The use of other non-nutritive or artificial sweeteners approved by the FDA is acceptable during pregnancy (These are considered safe in moderation):

-Equal, NutraSweet, Sunett, and Splenda

To Find out More about Pregnancy Dos and Don’ts Visit:

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/