When you’re pregnant — especially for the first time — you have so many questions along the way. Friends, relatives and co-workers seem to love offering their guidance on the many dos and don’ts of this exciting and wonderful experience.
Sometimes it can be tough to separate the facts from the myths. When in doubt, it’s always best to check with your doctor and to follow his or her expert advice.
Pregnancy Facts vs. Fiction
Here are six common facts and misconceptions I’m asked about by my patients:
1. Dying your hair during pregnancy is harmful to the baby.
Fiction. This is usually the first question my patients ask. Hair dyes used today are so organic, and they really don’t cause problems. If you’re dying your hair where it touches the scalp, and you want to be extra careful, don’t do it in the first trimester. But you can do caps and foils at any time.
2. Pregnant women should not eat sushi.
Fact. I would not recommend eating raw sushi. There’s always a risk of getting a parasite or bacteria when eating raw fish. During pregnancy, that parasite or bacteria can go to the baby. Eating cooked sushi is usually fine, as long as the restaurant is reputable.
3. It’s safe for me to get an X-ray while I’m pregnant.
Fact. The amount of radiation in an X-ray you get from your dentist or from a chest X-ray is so minuscule, you would need to have thousands of X-rays in the first trimester to even see any fetal damage. Computerized tomography scans or other radiological studies do have more radiation, but if the benefit outweighs the risk, it is okay to have them done.
4. I can have caffeine while I’m pregnant.
Fact. There are no birth defects shown with caffeine use. The risk of miscarriage and fertility issues has been refuted. However, we do tell people to limit it. It’s a stimulant and a diuretic, so one cup per day is probably reasonable. I always tell my patients to drink a cup of water with it. If you drink it in excessive amounts, you can cause things like heart palpitations and other things that aren’t very fun while you’re pregnant.
5. Don’t be concerned about your diet because you’re eating for two.
Fiction. One of my nurses used to say, “If you gain more than the recommended 25 or 30 pounds in your pregnancy, it’s yours to keep.” You will gain weight during pregnancy — and you do need to gain weight — but you really only need 300 more calories per day. Be smart about what you eat, because any excessive weight gain will be yours to keep later.
6. I should get the flu vaccination while I’m pregnant.
Fact. Influenza can kill. Pregnant women are at high risk for complications from the flu. The flu vaccine has shown no complications in pregnant women. Anytime during the pregnancy, and absolutely during flu season, you need your flu shot. No excuses!