After getting pregnant, you're left with a giant list of dos and don'ts from your mom, your friends, your great aunt, Google — you name it. But how much of what you're being told is actually true? There's the Great Cheese Debate, trying to decide whether your cat needs a new home, and even figuring out whether or not you need to cancel your hair coloring appointment. Not to fret: we're addressing the rumors once and for all.
1. No, mothers aren't eating for two.
Sorry to break it to you, but pregnancy as an excuse to eat two desserts is no longer valid (but still totally justified). According to , obstetrician and gynecologist at Maternal Fetal Medicine Associates in New York City, those extra calories will do more harm than good.
"Mothers definitely need to eat well and make sure they're getting all the nutrients they need, but if they were to eat for two, they would be gaining way too much weight, which can be cumbersome on their physical body and also cause complications," Dr. Gottlieb says. "It could put them at an increased risk of gestational diabetes and cause difficulties with delivery."
2. You don't need to cut cheese out of your diet.
The cheese gods have spoken — and they've granted you with the most wonderful gift of all: the ability to eat as much cheese as your expecting heart desires. (Okay, not too much cheese. But still.)
"You can eat cheese, but make sure it's pasteurized. Sometimes you'll read you can't have soft cheese, but most of the cheese sold in the United States is all pasteurized — even the soft farmer's cheeses, fetas, or Bries," Gottlieb says. "If it's not pasteurized, the risk is infection."
3. You can eat seafood — but not all of it.
If you want to keep seafood in your diet, don't let being pregnant stop you. But if the majority of your seafood intake comes from mercury-rich sources, that's when you should watch out.
"Seafood is fine, but the concern is more with the large fish like tuna and king mackerels — they have a lot of mercury in them," Gottlieb says. "Too much mercury has been linked to poor brain development, so we limit it in adults who are pregnant, and also in young kids."
4. Feel free to color — and bleach! — your hair.
A lot of mothers are afraid to dye their hair while pregnant, but Gottlieb says not to worry: There's nothing wrong with keeping up with your hair appointments.
"If you're nauseous in the first trimester, it's not great to be at a salon with all those fumes because that might make your nausea increase. But your hair follicles are already dead, so you're dying something that's not living — it's only at the tip that's alive. So it's fine to dye your hair, and most of products used are non-toxic anyway," she says.
5. Drink coffee, but keep it to a cup.
Good news! If you can't make it through your morning without a cup of coffee, being pregnant doesn't mean you need to stop drinking it altogether. "You want to limit your caffeine intake to about one cup of day, and I would say not your Starbucks Venti cup; just a regular cup of coffee," Gottlieb says. "Too much caffeine has been linked to early miscarriages; it's not a great study, but there have been some complications. Caffeine has also been linked to small babies, but both scenarios are from a major excess of caffeine."
6. You can get your varicose veins treated, but there's a catch.
When it comes to treating varicose veins, Gottlieb says there's no harm in doing so before you're done having kids. But if you want to save money, you might want to wait.
"They can get them treated, but they're going to have more pop up. If they're okay with the fact that they're going to get pregnant again and have more varicose veins, they just have to be aware that they're going to have to get them treated again," Gottlieb says.
7. Cat cuddles are pregnant lady-approved.
There's been a longstanding myth that pregnant women need to steer clear of felines, but your future doesn't need to involve watching cat videos instead of playing with the real thing.
"Most of the cats people have are domesticated indoor cats; it's more of a cat that's been exposed to toxoplasmosis, which is a parasite," Gottlieb says. Since cats can become infected with toxoplasmosis by eating infected rodents then pass the parasite in their feces, you have a doc-approved excuse to avoid the chore you've always hated anyway. "Let your provider know and they can test you for it, but you should also let someone else change the litter box, just in case."
8. Yes, you can exercise — just don't go nuts.
Sorry, but exercise isn't prohibited when you're pregnant — in fact, it's recommended. But when it comes to you your level of activity, maybe don't bench press 300 pounds anytime soon.
"Anyone who's having a normal, uncomplicated pregnancy should exercise and do what they normally do. If you've never exercised before and then become pregnant and decide to start exercising, that's when you can get hurt. But if you're an avid exerciser, continue to do what you normally do," Gottlieb says. "The most important thing is listening to your body and focusing on safety. I would say extreme sport exercises probably aren't a good idea; biking on a stationary bike is safer than biking around somewhere with a bunch of potholes."
9. Stressed? It won't hurt your baby.
Many pregnant women fear their high-stress lives are going to affect their babies, but the truth? Stress isn't good for you, but as long as you're taking care of yourself, your baby will be taken care of too.
"If the mother is really stressed and not emotionally doing well — like not going out, exercising, eating well, and taking good care of themselves — then yes, it can affect the baby. But not if you're the average type-A person who's working really hard and has no time for anything. That's not doing any damage," Gottlieb says.
10. Postpartum depression doesn't always show up right after you give birth.
Postpartum depression is more common than people think: according to the , one out of nine women experience it. Most women think it happens immediately after giving birth, but it can rear its head whenever it wants, even a couple months down the line.
"Postpartum can happen at any time, usually within the first year, but it's most common within the first couple months," Gottlieb says. "It's not postpartum depression, but there's depression and anxiety that can happen during the pregnancy as well, so it's something we screen for throughout the pregnancy, as well as in the postpartum period."
11. You can still drink while trying to get pregnant.
…just don't go crazy. That glass of wine you savor once in a while is totally A-okay.
"If alcohol is a concern, they need to cut back and not drink. But if they're more of a social drinker — going out and having dinner with friends with a glass of wine — I think that's reasonable," Gottlieb says.
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