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Pregnant women are given lots of advice surrounding healthy eating and lifestyle, but this is often based on old or outdated information.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

  • Lucy Upton, Specialist Paediatric Dietitian and Nutritionist Keeping up-to-date with all of the guidance on healthy eating and lifestyle when you’re expecting can feel overwhelming! Pregnant women are given lots of advice, but this can often be based on old or outdated information, making it difficult to know what to trust. The Infant & Toddler Forum are here to help, with our practical list of pregnancy top tips. 
  • Lucy Upton, Specialist Paediatric Dietitian and Nutritionist   Sugar is everywhere, and the trouble is, a lot of the sugar we eat can be hidden in the food we buy – and often in foods we wouldn’t expect! It is no secret that a healthy, balanced and nutritious diet is essential for toddlers’ growth and development, and this includes keeping a close eye on their sugar consumption. The question of just how much sugar is healthy for young children to consume is one on many parents’ lips. Our guide below aims to demystify sugar consumption and provide tips and advice on how to keep your child’s sugar intake within the recommended amounts.
  • Lucy Upton, Specialist Paediatric Dietitian and Nutritionist   Nothing describes a rollercoaster more accurately than the early months with your newborn baby. With the rush of love and amazing bonding experience that many new parents feel also comes numerous unknowns and challenges which can cause high levels of anxiety. Not always having the answer or being unsure of where to look for trusted information can naturally leave some parents feeling stressed and overwhelmed.