Pregnancy is a wonderful experience that many people are blessed to experience. Many people face a common issue: the barrage of information surrounding pregnancy and what they should or shouldn't be doing and what is best for pregnant people the world over.
With so many anecdotes, old wives tales and more floating about, not to mention people's opinions and thoughts on the topic, how easy is it to separate fact from fiction? Sometimes not that easy, and over time many of these claims are repeated until they are so well known that people take them as fact, without even bothering to check the validity.
This post looks at some of the common misconceptions and separates facts from the myth in pregnancy.
- Pregnant Women Shouldn't Exercise.
- You Can't Dye your Hair
- Everything Will Come Naturally Once Baby is Born
- Postpartum Depression is Just the Baby Blues
- You Need to Eat for Two
- You Need to Buy Everything Before The Baby is Born
- Picking Up Your Baby Will Spoil Them
- Morning Sickness is Only in the Morning
Pregnant Women Shouldn't Exercise.
Many people see the experience of growing a child as something that should be protected and sacred. This is 100% false. While it is in the sense that pregnant women need to be careful with partaking in certain activities, moderate exercise isn't one of them; while lifting heavy weights and bench pressing excessive weights isn't a great option when pregnant, there are still many different types of exercise they can do. Discussing this with your doctor or midwife can help you assess how best to exercise as some form of exercise is recommended as it is better for both mum and baby.
As long as there are no major complications with the pregnancy and you were fairly active beforehand, there is no reason why you cannot continue to do what feels comfortable for you for as long as possible. And if you weren't active before and you want to get active during pregnancy, low-impact activities can help you stay fit such as;
- Pregnancy Yoga
- Low-impact aerobics
You Can't Dye your Hair
Again another myth that seems to rest on the belief that the chemical in hair dyes can cause damage to your unborn child. These days, the way hair dyes are developed have changed, and it is perfectly safe to use many hair dyes in pregnancy. If you are unsure, ask your hairstylist for their recommendations for using hair dye in pregnancy. Semi-permanent dyes and henna hair dyes are safe, but by following some rules and guidance, there is no reason why you cannot use the same hair dye you have used before the pregnancy.
- Keep the dye on for the minimum time possible
- Wear gloves if self-applying
- Open windows and doors
- Wait until after you are 12 weeks further to reduce the risks of any harm to your baby.
Everything Will Come Naturally Once Baby is Born
This notion is peddled to put expectant parents' minds at ease as a myth is true in some circumstances. However, for some people, those natural reactions and feelings don't magically appear, and it takes time. People should be mindful that assurances such as this can cause unwanted worry after birth should this reaction not be instant.
These feelings can be paused or take longer to develop in birth trauma or high-stress events surrounding the pregnancy and birth. Becoming a parent is a huge adjustment, and new parents should be allowed to take the time to get to know their new baby and vice versa to allow for a bond to develop and foster confidence. If those feelings don't come through naturally, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. Everyone is different, and what works for one person won't be the same experience for someone else. Trust yourself and ask for help when needed. The more confidence you get, the easier taking care of a newborn will be.
Postpartum Depression is Just the Baby Blues
False. Baby blues and postpartum depression are two totally different conditions. Baby blues occur within two weeks of birth and include feeling low, emotional and tearful and is typically associated with fluctuating hormones and the change in dynamics of your life. This is natural and to be expected, and many new parents will feel the same.
Postpartum depression is more severe and needs to be monitored closely with the help of a medical professional who recognises this condition and can get the right help quickly. The symptoms of postnatal depression are similar to depression and include everything you associate with someone being depressed, such as;
- Loss of appetite
- Loss in the desire to do things that usually they enjoy
- Poor sleeping even if the baby is sleeping well
- Poor concentration
Other indicators that someone is suffering from postnatal depression include being unable to bond with the baby, distancing themselves or having a complete disinterest in the baby at all. Always speak to your midwife if you feel like you or someone you love is suffering from postnatal depression. Figures suggest that around 10 to 20% of people suffer from postnatal depression, and treatments can help symptoms.
You Need to Eat for Two
Another myth for this one, no matter how much you will want to believe it! Many people experience increased appetites and cravings during pregnancy. And while there are many anecdotal tales of the weird and wonderful food combinations being craved and doting partners risking life and limb in extreme weather to meet that craving demand, there is no evidence that you need to eat for two during pregnancy until the third trimester.
Even then, you only need to add an extra 200 calories to your 2,000 calories allowance to allow for the extra growth and changes your baby makes during this time. If you are experiencing increases in appetite and wanting to eat more than usual, try to eat as healthy as possible. This is better for you and your baby, but it will help you avoid becoming unhealthy during your pregnancy and after.
You Need to Buy Everything Before The Baby is Born
Not strictly true. While there are many items you need to buy before you have your baby, you don't need to buy everything at once. Your newborn will be doing relatively little during the first few weeks of their lives aside from eating and sleeping. All you need is a good supply of easy to use sleepsuits or clothing, nappies, wipes and feeding equipment, depending on if you are bottle or breastfeeding.
You will also need somewhere for your baby to sleep, and at this time, if you don't have a cot, it is ok. A small crib or bassinet will suit the baby for a few weeks, and chances are you will be keeping them close anyway. Something easy to move around if required will be easier for everyone involved. Choosing to spend your money on essentials such as buying a mattress for your bassinet or swaddle blankets to help your baby sleep better in the early days can reduce the cost of a newborn. Buy newer items as and when they need them.
Picking Up Your Baby Will Spoil Them
Depending on who you ask, this can be a contentious topic. While many people believe constantly holding your baby to get them to sleep or soothe them is spoiling them and leading to them being unable to self soothe, others believe the opposite.
Child development experts are unanimous in their advice that you simply cannot spoil a baby by holding them too much. In fact, babies need constant attention and comfort from being held to help them develop and grow. Sure, as they get older, there are ways you can spoil them. But for those first few months, hold your baby, do what feels natural and cherish those moments when all they need is you to feel safe and calm.
Morning Sickness is Only in the Morning
Don't be misled by the name of this pregnancy-specific condition. A great majority of women experience morning sickness all day. It is worse when they wake up; for others, the evening is the danger zone. But do not buy into the myth that morning sickness is only in the mornings and for the first few weeks. It can and will occur at any time during your early pregnancy and last way past the clock sticking midday.
If you are concerned your sickness isn't normal, or you cannot keep liquids or solids down or do basic activities such as get out of bed or go to work, you should visit your doctor to rule out Hyperemesis Gravidarum. HG is a severe form of sickness and nausea and is determined by vomiting more than 4 times per day every day and leading to you becoming lightheaded and dizzy and dehydrated and malnourished.
When directing facts from fiction during pregnancy, you must speak to your healthcare providers, who can alleviate your worries and fears. You know your own body best, and if something doesn't feel right, you can always ask for advice from someone who does know and is trained to know the signs.
A top tip is to ask your parents for their advice or listen to friends who have recently been pregnant and advise you on the information midwives, and doctors have given them during their pregnancy.