Jun 16, 2022 • 4 min read

5 Pregnancy Myths You Should Stop Believing (Like, Now)

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Congrats on your pregnancy! Now, as soon as you made the announcement (or maybe you’re still keeping mum about it), you probably were inundated with “advice” about what you should or shouldn’t do when pregnant—and beyond.

Spoiler: A lot of that advice is flat-out wrong.

Here, we clear up myth from fact, and how you can make time and space for your physical and mental wellbeing during pregnancy and after.

Myth 1: Pregnant women shouldn’t exercise

Go ahead: Be the mom who’s running with a large belly. Or continuing to lift weights and be strong. Get yourself to yoga class and enjoy the flow.

As long as you are healthy and have a normal pregnancy, exercise during pregnancy is considered safe. Of course, it’s worth having a discussion with your OB/GYN or pelvic floor therapist about your personal health and how much and what kind of exercise your provider recommends.

Overall, though, moving more delivers benefits for you and your baby, including decreasing the risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and cesarean birth, strengthening your heart, and improving GI function, too. 

Research also shows that regularly performing cardio exercise during pregnancy is associated with improved brain development in babies, which translated to better neuromotor skills in infancy. (These babies were also more likely to be active, too, so get ready!)

Babies born to active moms were also more likely to be healthy, and exposure to exercise in utero may also affect their later risk of developing chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

Myth 2: You’re eating for two

Pregnancy will do a number on your appetite. In the first trimester, you might find that all you want to eat is a snack mix and cereal. Later on, ice cream may be your jam.

Listen, you are supposed to gain weight during pregnancy, and the recommendations vary from 11 to 40 pounds, depending on your starting BMI.

While you should listen to and honor your hunger, growing a healthy baby doesn’t mean that you necessarily should double your intake. In fact, if you entered pregnancy at a healthy weight, you may need just 340 additional calories per day in the second trimester and 450 additional calories per day in the third trimester. 

Of course, prioritizing healthy foods, such as whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds is the best way to add extra calories—but that still leaves room for ice cream, too. 

Seeing a registered dietitian can help you make sure you’re getting in enough protein, healthy fats, and vegetables to nourish your body and your baby’s.

>> Learn more: How many calories should I eat while pregnant?

Myth 3: Pregnant women shouldn’t drink coffee

If you love your morning coffee and you can drink it without side effects (jitters, anxiety, insomnia), then go for it. Caffeine in moderation is safe for pregnant moms and babies.

Still, it’s recommended that you cap your caffeine intake to 200 mg per day from all sources (chocolate counts, too) while pregnant. An 8-ounce cup of coffee contains 80 to 100 milligrams of caffeine, while an 8-ounce cup of green or black tea will run 30 to 50 milligrams.

Myth 4: Breastfeeding comes naturally

Breastfeeding is hard. (Though there are things you can do to support a happy breastfeeding journey.) For some women, baby gets a hang of it quickly and there are no anatomical challenges to deal with (such as lip ties), so breastfeeding is breezy.

That’s not the case for most moms. In fact, just one-quarter of moms are still breastfeeding exclusively at six months and about half of women said that they weaned babies earlier than planned. 

Why? Your nipples can hurt (a lot), you may deal with low supply, the baby may have a tough time latching, or the reality of breastfeeding when returning to work means the practice is just not doable.

All of those reasons, and more, can make you stop before you’re actually ready. Of course, there is nothing wrong with deciding not to breastfeed in the first place or stopping—because fed is best.

If you are interested in breastfeeding, pregnancy is a great time to seek breastfeeding support, which can help even prior to delivery. Connecting with a lactation consultant will provide valuable information on how to breastfeed and overcome certain challenges to help you reach your breastfeeding goals.

>> Read More: What is a Lactation Consultant & When Do I Need One?

Myth 5: Every woman feels happy after birth

This post-birth glowy feeling is often referred to as “The Golden Hour.” It’s the time after birth when you bond with the baby. But honestly, not every mom feels immediately connected to their baby and not every mom feels all-encompassing happiness. That is okay.

Think about it: You just gave birth. Whether you received an epidural, did it medication-free, or went in for a C-section (emergency or planned), this has been an experience to say the least. Fatigue and exhaustion, pain, and other feelings may be at the forefront—even though, yes, you realize that you absolutely, unequivocally love your new baby.

What’s more, if you did not have the birth experience that you envisioned, you may also be grappling with feelings of disappointment and sadness. (Totally normal to feel all the feelings.)

These emotions may not lift by the time you get home from the hospital, and they could get worse. Thanks to a combination of changing hormones, recovery from birth, sleep deprivation, and an adjustment to your new life, the baby blues often set in. This is a type of mild depression that occurs in the majority of moms after birth and lasts for about two weeks.

In addition, about 15% of moms experience postpartum depression after giving birth. While postpartum depression usually peaks at around 2 to 4 weeks after delivery, some may experience symptoms for years.

Regardless of whether you’re just experiencing the baby blues or have postpartum depression, support is critical. Finding a mental health provider can help you process these complex emotions and develop coping mechanisms so that you can feel your best. This is something that you can set up ahead of delivery and can be part of your pregnancy care plan

Of course, you will still be sleep-deprived. That’s one truth. But, with help and support, you will also find many opportunities to smile and laugh with your new little one.