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True or false? The top 11 pregnancy myths debunked
You won't believe what you should stay away from... - photo by Hannah Rose
When you announce you are expecting, youre likely told all the tips, tricks, myths and old wives tales about pregnancy. Some are amusing while others are terrifying all the same. Youve probably been told the way the baby rests will tell you if you are having a boy or girl, or that you should sleep on your left side.

Some myths are interesting but not all are amusing. Some common pregnancy myths can cause unnecessary worry and misconceptions that can pose some real health complications. Save yourself the trouble by discovering whats true and what is false with these 11 myths:

1. Stress is bad for the baby


Scientists from the University of Denver conducted a study that measured the presence of cortisol, a stress hormone, in the mothers womb and the effect the hormone has on the growing baby.

Researchers were interested in understanding if the hormones babies were introduced to in their very first environment affected them for the rest of their lives. Approximately 60 percent of the children exposed to high levels of cortisol showed signs that the rostral anterior cingulate area of their brain was thinner than their counterparts. These children experienced higher levels of anxiety and distress.

2. You are eating for two


Eating for two is not a proper justification to serve yourself two ample servings of cereal. You are feeding yourself and your baby, but that does not mean you have to double the amount of food you intake.

According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a pregnant woman only needs to consume about 300 extra calories to feed and foster the development of her unborn baby.

3. Avoid sugary food


Just as it is true in multiple cases, all things must be consumed in moderation. An excessive intake of sugar can be extremely detrimental to the health of the mother and her baby.

Excessive sugar has been linked to intensify pregnancy symptoms such as vomiting, heartburn, nausea and mood swings. Also beware of your cravings, as women that crave sugary foods while pregnant can consume limits that are unhealthy and can create a lack of nutritional sustenance for themselves and their child.

4. Skip the flu shot this year


In a recent report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pregnant women can and should get an influenza shot. Pregnant women who come down with the flu are at higher risk of hospitalizations, experiencing more intense symptoms and even death than non-pregnant women.

The best fight for the flu is getting vaccinated; your body will begin to create antibodies that will help you create the proper defense system against the highly contagious illness.

5. Avoid exercise


Prenatal exercise is recommended by the ACOG (The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists ) from the day you find out you are expecting till the day you deliver. Women who exercised religiously while pregnant were linked to having less unplanned cesarean sections, a smaller likelihood of developing gestational diabetes and have been proven to decrease depression during pregnancy.

6. Avoid seafood

True and False!

Seafood can be a good source of zinc, protein and iron that is beneficial for the growth and development of a healthy baby. The omega-3 fatty acids found in many fish are fortifying to the growth of your babys brain.

BUT certain types of seafood, such as sharks, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefishcan contain high levels of mercury. If you are pregnant or hope to become pregnant be aware of your mercury intake. Over time the substance can accumulate in the bloodstream and can damage the development of your babys brain and nervous system.

7. Dont dye your hair


Have no fear your beautiful hair can be dyed to your hearts desire while you are expecting. According to the Organization of Teratology Information Services (OTIS), a group that provides information on potential reproductive risks, concluded that hair dye does not provide changes in human pregnancies.

8. Should you give up caffeine?


Who doesnt love their morning caffeine fix? Sometimes its the only thing that can get us out of the door in the morning. Pregnant women are often warned to stay away from caffeine because it could possibly cause miscarriage, preterm birth or low birth weight. Fear no more, the case against caffeine is not strong.

There is no significant evidence that a woman who drank caffeine experienced any increased risk of low birth weight or miscarriage.

9. No air travel


Pregnant women should have no fears of taking to the sky. Airport body scanners, x-ray machines and radiation from flying at high altitudes can seem daunting and harmful, but the small amounts of radiation a pregnant woman is exposed to does not have much penetration to cause any damage to your baby.

10. Stay away from cats

True and False!

It is completely safe to cuddle up with your cat while pregnant, but it is important to take special care when cleaning your furry friends litter box. If possible, have someone else do it. Cat feces can carry a parasitic infection, toxoplasmosis, and if contracted while pregnant can cause serious eye and brain damage to your baby.

11. Avoid hot baths


Pregnant women should avoid saunas, hot tubs or any water that will raise their body temperature above a balmy 101 degrees. OTIS (Organization of Teratology Information Services) concluded a pregnant woman with high body temperatures have shown an increased risk of birth defects such as congenital heart defects, cleft lip and spina bifida.