Common pregnancy myths and misconceptions

Lucy Upton, Specialist Paediatric Dietitian and Nutritionist

 

Pregnant women are given lots of advice surrounding healthy eating and lifestyle, but this is often based on old or outdated information. There are so many myths and misconceptions floating around that it can be difficult for mums-to-be to tell fact from fiction. Here are our tips and guidance, so you can feel confident about having a healthy pregnancy.

Pregnant women should ‘eat for two’
It’s a common belief that a pregnant woman can expect to ‘eat for two’! But overeating can place both you and your baby at risk of health problems. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is what’s important. The Department of Health recommends that calorie intake should increase by 200kcal per day but only in the third trimester.

Avoid coffee and tea during pregnancy
Excess caffeine intake has been shown to increase the risk of low birth weight, but it doesn’t need to be cut out altogether! Moderate consumption is safe, with the recommended amount being 200mg/day – about the same as two mugs of instant coffee or tea.

Eating peanuts will cause your baby to have allergies
It is perfectly safe to eat peanuts (or any nuts!) unless you are allergic to them yourself. 

Avoid eating fish during pregnancy
Two servings of cooked fish a week (one of which should be oily) is a healthy way of consuming vital omega-3 fatty acids. Raw fish, however, should be avoided due to the risk of food poisoning. Swordfish, shark and marlin should also be avoided due to high mercury levels. 

A small baby means an easier birth
Giving birth to a small baby will not necessarily be easier. The pelvis expands to allow the delivery of babies of all sizes.

Eating spicy foods can induce labour
There is no scientific evidence to support this common pregnancy myth.

Avoid exercise during pregnancy
It’s best for you and the baby to stay active during pregnancy. Moderate exercise helps keep pregnant women fit, reduces complications of pregnancy and labour, and helps restore body shape after birth. Like all adults, pregnant women should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity on five or more days per week. 

Smoking and drinking will not harm the baby
Smoking is the biggest risk-factor for sudden infant death, and increases the risk of stillbirth, premature birth, miscarriage and low birth weight babies. The safest approach is not to smoke or drink alcohol at all to keep risks to your baby to a minimum. Even small amounts of alcohol consumption can lead to long-term harm for your baby and the more alcohol consumed, the bigger the risk.

Found this helpful? Why not share with your family and friends? And for further information on a healthy diet and lifestyle during pregnancy, read more at Ten Steps for a Healthy Pregnancy.

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Further Reading

  • Katie Fox, Primary School Teacher   Due to coronavirus, playgroups and nurseries are shut and those children due to start school in a few months will be out of routine and away from friends. It is understandable that many parents are worried about getting their children ready for September. Children learn and progress at different rates so there are no set criteria on what they need to be able to know or do when they first start nursery, but if they have had some experience learning at home it could help to make it a smoother transition. Turn taking games, imaginative play, reading, and developing fine and gross motor skills can promote independence, build confidence and help develop simple skills.
  • Dr Gill Harris, Consultant Paediatric Clinical Psychologist Dr Maddy Harris, Clinical Psychologist   In times of crisis – such as the one we are currently living in – parents may find that the normal stresses of everyday life are magnified and additional worries and concerns emerge. Knowing how to cope may prove difficult, but an approach which has widely been discussed in the media and on social media is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).The premise of ACT is that fears and anxieties are seen as real and cannot be ‘challenged’ away, unlike with cognitive behavioural therapy. By concentrating on our actions we are able to work past our fears. This method may help those struggling with this new chaotic routine we find ourselves in. The Infant & Toddler Forum are here to help with our top tips on how to apply this intervention.
  • Lucy Upton, Specialist Paediatric Dietitian and Nutritionist   As social distancing policies are put in place, and schools and nurseries shut their doors indefinitely, keeping your toddlers entertained and active for hours on end during COVID-19 may seem daunting and at times virtually impossible! Parents and carers have been thrown into a cozy and chaotic ‘new normal’ and may wonder how they can meet the recommended three hours a day of physical activity for under-fives who are walking. But do not panic, the Infant & Toddler Forum are here to help make sure you have plenty of ideas to keep your toddler happy and entertained whilst encouraging physical activity.