What’s Actually Allowed During Pregnancy? 6 Myths and Truths

February 9, 2022   Pregnancy & Postpartum

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As soon as you announce your pregnancy, be prepared to receive a wealth of information (and opinions) — from your obstetrician, your mom, your sister, neighbor, sister’s friend’s cousin, etc. 😊 You may be wondering, what’s true, and what isn’t? Let’s look at some common advice you might hear, and help you separate fact from fiction.

You shouldn't travel while pregnant

False. Generally, flying or taking long car trips before Week 36 of pregnancy is considered safe if you have a healthy, low-risk pregnancy. However, it’s a good idea to check with your provider before taking flight, to get the official green light and have any of your questions answered. When planning the next trip, think about which trimester you’ll be in. You may feel more comfortable traveling during your second trimester due to less morning sickness and relative ease of movement. On your journey, be sure to walk and stretch every couple of hours and stay hydrated.

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You're eating for two

Sort of. Although indulging in a little extra ice cream is never a bad thing (pregnant or not), you aren’t technically eating for two. Gaining weight during pregnancy is an important part of the miracle of growing a human being, but the amount of weight you need to gain depends on a variety of factors. These include your pre-pregnancy weight, the number of babies you’re carrying, and whether you’ve carried a baby before. The American College of Obstetricians (ACOG) suggests that the average woman will gain 25-35 pounds during her pregnancy. Your baby should get everything they need from you for the first six months (while eating a recommended 2,000 calorie diet per day) without you needing any extra calories. Once you enter into your last trimester, your caloric intake will increase by about 200 per day. This includes some healthy snacks like nutrition-packed smoothies or high-in-protein choices like hard-boiled eggs. Mindful eating is recommended but enjoying your pregnancy (which may mean eating something you’re craving) is totally allowed! If your pregnancy requires additional calories or an increase in certain types of foods, your provider will work with you on a plan.

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Exercising is recommended

True. Movement of any kind is always recommended. Exercise is essential for your health (including your mental health) and your baby’s health. Generally, the exercise regimen that you followed prior to your pregnancy should be totally fine to continue (with possible adjustments), provided you feel up to it. Modifications may be recommended as you get further along in your journey. You may want to avoid excessive bouncing or stretching, certain abdominal exercises, and activities with warmer environments like hot yoga. It’s always a good idea to connect with your provider for their guidance. Low-impact movement like walking, for example, can be extremely beneficial for your health — even if it’s just 30 minutes, 5 days a week. Your body and your growing baby will thank you.

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Both partners should quit smoking (pregnant or not)

True. Smoking while pregnant puts babies at risk for lower birth weights and at even greater risk for learning disabilities. Children that are born into a smoking household are also more likely to try the habit at an early age.

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Two more myths worth noting

  • Cut out coffee: False. Caffeine can travel through the placenta and increase your baby’s heart rate, so you do have to limit your intake, but you don’t need to completely forgo your cup of joe. One to two cups of coffee each day is okay, but you may want to be mindful of drinking too much espresso.
  • Refrain from sex while pregnant: False. It’s totally fine! In fact, staying intimate with your partner during this beautiful time is highly recommended. If you’re having a normal pregnancy with no complications, having sex and orgasms won't increase your risk of going into labor early or cause a miscarriage. Don’t hesitate to ask your provider if you have any questions or concerns.

Pregnancy is life’s greatest miracle. There’s a wealth of information out there but try your best to keep in mind that every person is different, and all experiences vary. When in doubt, ask your provider for insight. Try not to stress too much and enjoy this journey!

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There is a lot of conflicting information out there about pregnancy. Make a list of questions for your OB visits so you can get the most up-to-date information.

— Kristin Yates, DO

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