Becoming pregnant means a whole new set of rules to follow for the next 40 weeks. If it’s your first time becoming pregnant, it may all seem a little overwhelming. However, OB/GYN Curtis Hoegh, M.D., UnityPoint Health is hoping to help expectant mothers set the record straight. While you should make sure to ask your primary care provider any specific questions, here are 15 things to know while expecting.
- You can’t change your cat’s litter box while pregnant
FACT: Cat litter can contain a parasite called Histoplasmosis that can be harmful in pregnancy. Though this is most likely to be found in outdoor cats that eat other things in addition to standard cat food, it is still best to have your partner change the litter. If you need to change the litter, make sure to use good hand washing after the task is complete.
- You’re eating for two while pregnant
FICTION: Developing babies need calories to grow, but not double the calories. If you are of average weight you should try to gain about 25-35 pounds during pregnancy. If you are overweight, then your goal is 15-25 pounds.
- You shouldn’t clean your house when you’re pregnant
FICTION: Unfortunately, you can continue to clean during pregnancy, just follow the recommended cleaning instruction on the products’ label. Try to maintain good ventilation, as the fumes may cause nausea. Expectant mothers should ask their partner for help in sharing the load.
- You shouldn’t take extremely hot showers or baths
FACT: Providers suggest you avoid exposure to excessive heat throughout pregnancy. Excessive heat in early pregnancy can increase the risk of spinal defects. Excessive heat in later pregnancy can stress the baby, so it’s advised to avoid it as well. Normal bathing and showering are fine. It’s the daily use of hot tubs and saunas that should be avoided.
- Fish is bad for pregnant women
FICTION: Fish is actually quite healthy and recommended for pregnant women, as it is a good source of essential fatty acids. However, there are four fish types to avoid due to higher mercury levels. These are shark, swordfish, tilefish and mackerel. Tuna is fine, though it’s best to consume chunk light tuna rather that the albacore tuna as it tends to be higher in mercury. You can eat acceptable fish two to three times a week.
- It’s a good idea to cut out a lot of cheese while pregnant
FICTION: Cheese is a healthy part of your diet, with some exceptions. Avoid the non-pasteurized cheeses, such as brie, feta and blue cheese. Since they are unpasteurized, they may contain bacteria that are harmful during pregnancy.
- Drinking one glass of wine during the second trimester and after is ok
FICTION: There is no known safe amount of alcohol in pregnancy, so is best to avoid it altogether.
- You should sleep on your side as pregnancy proceeds
FACT: Later in pregnancy (in the third trimester or after 27 weeks), the weight of the baby when on your back can compress one of the large blood vessels, the vena cava. This can lead to low blood pressure and lack of good blood flow to the baby. It’s best to roll to the left or right side.
- Eat veggies during pregnancy and your baby will like them later
FICTION: Veggies are a health part of your diet during pregnancy, but there is no evidence to suggest that veggie consumption will change your baby’s preferences.
- Eating spicy food will induce labor
FICTION: This is a popular theory for inducing labor, but there is no evidence that it works. However, if you like spicy food go for it, it won't hurt.
- Eating peanut butter while pregnant can help reduce the chances of peanut allergies
FACT: Actually, there is some evidence that eating nuts or peanut butter during pregnancy may reduce the chance of peanut allergies in your baby. The exception is if there is a strong family history of severe peanut allergies, then you would want to check with your doctor first. Otherwise, if you like peanut butter and jelly – eat up.
- If you suffer from heartburn - your baby will likely have more hair
UNDECIDED: A Johns Hopkins study in BIRTH magazine actually showed a correlation between heartburn and fetal hair growth. It seems the pregnancy hormones that lead to more heartburn can also increase fetal hair growth. Who would have known?
- Carrying a baby high or low will showcase a baby’s sex
FICTION: It’s fun to speculate that carrying low is a boy and high is a girl, but these is no scientific correlation.
- Getting my nails done at a salon is bad for baby
FICTION: Having your nails done is fine. Just be sure to have adequate ventilation, as the fumes can cause nausea.
- Getting my hair dyed during pregnancy is bad for baby
FICTION: There is no evidence that the small amount of dye absorbed with hair coloring causes pregnancy problems. Nevertheless, if you think you need a little touch up, just wait until the second trimester (after 13 weeks), to be safe.
While these are pretty common pregnancy-related questions, we know there are numerous others. If you have any specific questions regarding your pregnancy, remember to ask your UnityPoint Health OB/GYN.