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Alonna Friedman

10 Pregnancy Myths Busted

From cutting back on caffeine to putting the kabosh on workouts, find out what's fact and what's fiction.

Do do this. Don't do that. With all the pregnancy "advice" out there, it's hard to know what to believe — or whom to believe. But remember, every pregnancy is different, so follow your doctor's orders above anything else.

Myth 1: Eat three healthy meals a day

False! You should be eating six or seven small, healhty meals (every two to three hours). "Eating frequently and from various food groups will keep your blood sugar in a constant range, which is healthy for you and your baby," says Stuart Fischbein, MD, coauthor of Fearless Pregnancy. Don't obsess about food and don't diet. What was good for you pre-pregnancy is good for you now.
Daily nutrition checklist

Myth 2: It's okay to have a drink

False! Choosing to have a few sips during a champagne toast or abstaining from alcohol completely is ultimately a personal decsion, but know that numerous studies have linked drinking during pregnancy with an increased risk of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) say that pregnant woman should completely avoid alcohol during pregnancy. “The birth defects associated with alcohol during pregnancy are completely preventable,” says ACOG president Mark S. DeFrancesco. “It is essential that all health care providers, especially ob-gyns, make clear to their patients that there is no amount of alcohol use that is safe during pregnancy.”
Alcohol in early pregnancy

Myth 3: Decaf only

False! One small cup of coffee a day is perfectly fine. While a recent study at McGill University in Montreal did find that the caffeine in two to three cups of coffee a day increases the risk of miscarriage, it did not consider how the coffee was brewed and the type of coffee used. Dr. Minkin points out that a French blend served black is much stronger than a weak cup of American coffee mixed with milk. It's another controversial subject for sure, but moderate caffeine intake (200 milligrams or less) isn't likely to harm you or your baby. The same goes for sodas with a caffeine jolt.
Tips for decreasing intake

Myth 4: Cut out the cheese

False! Well, you don't have to cut all the cheeses. Some kinds, like cheddar and Swiss, are innocuous because they have been pasteurized. It's the soft, unpasteurized products like Brie, feta and goat cheese that might carry food-borne illnesses. If you're lucky, the market you frequent will carry pasteurized versions—just start looking at labels more often. And then you can still enjoy your crackers with cheese.
Why calcium's key

Myth 5: You're eating for two

False! Pregnancy is not a time to pig out. You certainly have a bit more leeway when it comes to a second helping of dinner, but on average women need only about 300 extra calories a day.
Foods to eat for baby

Myth 6: Say so long to seafood

False! Chances are that if the reputable (and tasty) sushi bar you love so much has not made you sick pre-pregnancy, you are not at risk when you are with-child. Yes, there is a greater risk of ingesting bad kinds of bacteria from raw foods (so you might feel more comfortable with a cooked-shrimp roll), but if you had spicy yellow fin before realizing you were pregnant, no harm done. The dangerous mercury levels, you ask? Again, it's all about moderation. Enjoy tuna on rye once a week, not daily. Not all fish are created equal. When perusing a menu, go with seafood with lower mercury levels, like salmon, shrimp, and tilapia. Unfortunately, swordfish and tilefish have the highest levels of mercury and should be skipped.
The latest info on safe fish intake

Myth 7: You'll have to suffer through pain and sickness

False! Many OTC meds are safe during pregnancy, but somehow women believe they need to put up with migraines and be a slave to the runs. Not so. You should consult your ob-gyn before you take anything, but many experts give the following drugs the green light: Tylenol for headaches and fever; Tums or Mylanta for heartburn; Robitussin for colds; and Benadryl for allergies. Many prescription drugs are also okay to continue with during pregnancy, but again, follow your doctor's orders. Herbal supplements and teas are up in the air—not much research has been done on their effects on fetuses. The kinds you buy in the grocery store are probably safe, but check with your doctor first. If you need to soothe your nerves and want to take the natural route, meditate or eat a piece of chocolate. We prefer the latter.
Complete guide to OTC meds that are safe during pregnancy

Myth 8: Skip the gym

False! Actually, many experts say that in most cases, low-impact workouts can be a great way to control your weight and prep for baby. Just avoid contact sports or exercises that involve lying on your back (which reduces blood flow to you brain and uterus). Talk to your OB!
Why working out during pregnancy is so good for you (and baby)

Myth 9: They'll know you're not a natural blonde!

False! Being pregnant does not have to compromise your appearance (at least not above the belly), but you do need to be smart. Fischbein says that while there is a theoretical risk associated with coloring your hair (chemicals being absorbed through the scalp), studies have not shown anything conclusive. He recommends avoiding dye for at least the first trimester, when the baby's organs are forming. Candice Wood, MD, an OBGYN at the Banner University Medical Center Phoenix, recommends relieving worries by opting for a natural vegetable dye over a permanent product (tomato juice, anyone?), or go for something semipermanent and don't leave it on longer than necessary while dyeing. Whether you're at a hair salon or at home, make sure the space is well ventilated.
Also: Why you're now a frizzball

Myth 10: Manicures are out

False! You don't need to forgo weekly manis just because you want to be a mommy. "You would need massive and long-term exposure to the products before there was a chance of problems," Fischbein says. Still freaked out about what's in the nail polish itself? Look for brands that are 3-free, meaning they don’t contain dibutyl phthalate, toluene or formaldehyde, like Butter London, Scotch Naturals and Zoya. To avoid breathing in fumes, choose places that are well ventilated (you might even want to make your appointment for less crowded times of the day). Most importantly, make sure the salon sterilizes all their tools. "If you were ever going to get an infection from a manicure, it would be when you’re pregnant," Wood says.
Plus: spa safety