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5 pregnancy myths I wish were true

Posted by Lara Salahi  November 19, 2012 08:07 AM

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Finding out you’re expecting can bring on the barrage of happy and horror stories from just about any woman you come into contact with -- whether you know them or not.

This is where pregnancy-related selective hearing works well. That is, the happy stories will make you feel like this little person is the best thing that will ever happen to you. The horror stories you’ll just block out and replace with the phrase, “well, every woman is different.” Translation: That’ll never happen to me. (Right?)

The statements below are some of the most common myths held by women that we may be wishing were true.

Indeed, at some point early in my pregnancy -- or perhaps even before -- I fell victim to selective hearing on a few.

So I asked Dr. Donnica Moore, an obstetrician and gynecologist and president of the women’s health firm Sapphire Women’s Group for a reality check.

Eating for two. If you can stomach it, you’ll want to eat all day, every day. Some women may even find that foods they were never interested in trying before are now destined to get in their belly. Surely, we have a good excuse now? It’s not like we have a waistline, anyway. Other women, most likely a generation before us, will encourage the popular phrase of “eating for two” to feed a growing baby, but the truth is doubling food portions is unhealthy and can be uncomfortable for your shrinking stomach and squeezed bowel.

According to Dr. Moore, no more than 500 extra calories a day is sufficient, even when nursing.

The most comfortable method may be to eat smaller meals more frequently to avoid indigestion, she said.

“As long as you’re taking your prenatal vitamin, we just want you to have a normal diet,” said Moore.

The “glow”. It’s true that being pregnant increases blood flow, and can bring on rosier cheeks. Even the release of certain hormones can increase oil production, giving us an illusion of a glow. But it’s short lived, and often doesn't always apply from the neck down.

Some women are more prone to stretch marks than others and no matter which lotion we rub or oil we try, there’s not much we can do to prevent the changes that are coming, said Moore.

The best way to prevent certain skin changes such as stretch marks and spider veins is to walk and engage in other low impact exercises that your physician clears, she said.

However, Moore said, these are no tried and true prevention methods that work for all women. Genetics play a role in how our body changes and whether we're able to bounce back after delivery.

Regardless, I’m holding out on the belief that the Adriana Lima in me will still shine through.

Accurately predicting baby’s gender. All of those old wives talks and the notion of a mother’s intuition about knowing her baby's gender are fun to listen to but don’t exactly go much further than that. This myth resonates more with my family and in-laws than with me, since they used some of the old wives tales to hedge their bets on that second chromosome.

Just like that second chromosome, there’s a 50/50 chance any guess will be true.

“If you really want to predict, get an ultrasound,” said Moore.

No exercise. I naively envisioned being able to putting my feet up. Cancel that gym membership without guilt. No stretching. No reaching. Take the elevator instead of the stairs. Put yoga on hold. Perhaps my husband would wait on me hand and foot.

“Unless your doctor has told you otherwise, low impact exercise is great up until the last day,” said Moore.

Pregnancy may even be an optimal time to introduce exercise because women are more likely to adopt healthier behaviors during their pregnancy, she said.

Many high impact exercises are off-limits, but activities like walking, swimming, light weight lifting, even using an elliptical can help women stay fit.

But when you do get a moment to sit, savor it by putting your feet up. Raising legs can prevent and help treat swelling some of us get.

The sooner the baby gets out, the better. Baby has been cooking for a while now and, during times of weakness, a part of me thinks, ‘how much bigger will she get? I don't think there's any room left!’

“There’s a good reason a baby is in there for nine months,” said Moore.

Towards the final few weeks before delivery, baby’s brain is still developing. She’s learning to breathe and swallow on her own. Her bones are hardening. Her major organs are learning to function.

“This, philosophically, is supposed to teach you patience,” said Moore.

Babies born before 37 weeks are considered preterm and can make them more susceptible to health problems, according to the American College of Obstetrician and Gynecologists.

The goal of every pregnancy is a healthy mother and healthy baby and how we get there is not as important as it is getting there,” said Moore.

What are some pregnancy beliefs you were disappointed to find out weren’t true?

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Lara Salahi is an award-winning multimedia journalist whose specialty is reporting health and medical stories. She has worked in local, network, and cable television, international print, and documentary film. She More »

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