Congratulations on becoming pregnant! Throughout the next nine months, you’ll get to experience the changes of becoming a mother. However, if you feel like pregnancy is filled with people telling you things you can’t do, let’s take a minute to debunk some of these myths:
You can’t exercise during pregnancy – MYTH
Both first-time and experienced moms worry about their baby and doing what’s best for their health. Contrary to what you may have been told, stopping your exercise routine is not the answer! If you were an avid exerciser before pregnancy, you can continue with your normal routine unless your doctor advises you otherwise. If you are looking to pick up exercising or start a new type of workout, always consult with your doctor before beginning. However, if you get approval from your doctor, exercise can provide a number of benefits such as reducing physical discomfort, backaches, constipation and swelling. It also can improve mood and energy levels which is an added bonus!
Morning sickness happens in the morning – MYTH
The name of “morning sickness” is very misleading for first-time moms because this pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting can strike at any time of the day or night. Mayo Clinic says many expectant moms experience morning sickness especially during the first trimester while others experience it throughout their entire pregnancy. While morning sickness is normal and common, it’s important to replenish your hydration and electrolytes after your vomiting episode. There is no way to completely prevent morning sickness, but avoiding triggers like strong odors, excessive fatigue, spicy foods and high-sugar foods may help decrease the frequency.
I shouldn’t dye my hair while I’m pregnant – MYTH
If you become pregnant and realize you have your standing hair appointment in three weeks, should you cancel it? Many hair treatments, specifically coloring your hair, involve chemicals and dyes which leave expectant moms questioning the safety of their baby. The American Pregnancy Association states the chemicals found in both semi-permanent and permanent dyes are not highly toxic and are safe to use on your regular schedule during pregnancy. The small amounts of hair dye that may be absorbed by the skin leave little that would reach the fetus, and this small amount is not considered harmful to the fetus.
If you’re still feeling unsure about using regular hair dye during pregnancy, the American Pregnancy Association recommends these precautions:
- Consider waiting until the second trimester (14 to 26 weeks) to treat your hair.
- Make sure the treatment is done in a well-ventilated area,
- Do not leave the chemicals on your hair any longer than indicated by the directions.
- Wear gloves when applying the treatment (if you’re doing it yourself)
- Rinse your scalp thoroughly with water after treatment.
I can’t eat cold cut meats while pregnant – MYTH
Lunch time rolls around and you’re craving a sandwich stacked high with deli meat. If you’re pregnant, you might try to ignore your craving because someone told you pregnant women aren’t supposed to eat deli meat. What if we told you that you could give into your craving and have the sandwich?
The reason some people believe pregnant women can’t eat deli meat is because of Listeria, a bacteria that is found in contaminated food. While anyone has the chance to get Listeria from deli meat, the American Pregnancy Association explains that pregnant women are more susceptible to get it and their babies are more vulnerable to complications from it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the following precautions for everyone, not just pregnant women, to avoid Listeria:
- Store factory-sealed, unopened packages in the refrigerator no longer than 2 weeks. Store opened packages and meat sliced at a local deli no longer than three to five days in the refrigerator.
- Avoid eating lunch meats, cold cuts or other deli meats (such as bologna) unless they are heated to an internal temperature of 165º or until steaming hot just before serving.
If you choose to avoid deli meats during your pregnancy, that is always an option. If you can’t give up your daily lunchtime sandwich, that’s okay too! Be informed about any updates from the CDC and take the recommended precautions for you and your baby. You can still enjoy deli meats safely and in moderation.
I should avoid hot tubs while pregnant – FACT
Our body becomes a home to a growing baby during pregnancy, so it’s no surprise that you will experience aches and soreness. Before you sink into a steaming hot tub to relax your muscles, consider choosing an alternative. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) states that becoming overheated in a hot tub is not recommended during pregnancy because expectant mothers should not have their body temperature rise above 102.2º F. Because most hot tubs are programmed to maintain a water temperature of 104º F, it only takes 10-20 minutes to raise your body temperature to 102º or higher.
Before you get too disappointed about not having that relaxing option, there is a recommended alternative: a warm bath. The water temperature of a bath is easier to control and is a much safer way to relax your muscles. As you draw your bath, make sure the water is comfortable and not too scalding. Try sticking your arm in and see if it feels comfortable to do so. If the temperature seems right, light yourself a candle, kick your feet up and hop into the relaxation!
Pregnancy does come with changes to your lifestyle and body, but not everything is off limits. It’s important to be aware of how daily activities like exercise and food choices may impact your baby, but if you follow the recommendations you can safely enjoy some of your favorite things. If you ever have concerns or want more guidance on activities, food, etc. schedule an appointment with your provider to get answers.