This article is brought to you in partnership with Novant Health. All opinions are our own.
When it comes to pregnancy, everything from web articles, to books, to relatives and strangers have advice for mom on the do’s and don’ts. Some of the advice may be pretty sound, but some may be nonsense.
With all the pregnancy “advice” out there, it’s hard to know what — or whom — to believe. Dr. Chris Chandler of Novant Health Mint Hill OB/GYN in Mint Hill, North Carolina, gives us his take on nine of the most popular pregnancy myths.
1. You shouldn’t drink coffee
“One 12-ounce cup of coffee a day is perfectly fine,” Chandler said. “Caffeine in moderation has never been shown to be dangerous in pregnancy. Just don’t drink the whole pot!”
2. You can’t color your hair while you’re pregnant
“Hair dyes and perms and things like that are completely fine, though we usually tell people to wait until after the first trimester,” Chandler said. “The skin absorption of chemicals in hair dye is minimal, but make sure the space is well ventilated so you aren’t breathing in the fumes.”
3. Manicures are out
“Manicures and pedicures are no problem during pregnancy,” Chandler said. “In any case, make sure you’re in a well-ventilated space to avoid breathing in fumes.”
4. It’s okay to have a drink
“No amount of alcohol use is safe during pregnancy,” Chandler said. “The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends no alcohol during pregnancy.”
5. You can’t fly during your first or third trimester
“This is simply not true,” Chandler said. “If you have a low-risk, healthy pregnancy, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to fly before 36 weeks. However, always discuss your travel plans with your doctor before booking a flight.”
6. You can’t eat fish
“Fish that have low levels of mercury, such as tilapia and salmon, are actually good for women during pregnancy,” Chandler said. “Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for both mother and baby.”
Chandler suggests skipping raw sushi and avoiding fish like mackerel, shark, tilefish and swordfish, all of which are high in mercury.
7. Hot baths are out
“It’s fine to take baths as long as the water isn’t too hot,” Chandler said. “Avoid saunas and whirlpool spas which can raise your body temperature over 102 degrees. A temperature that high could become dangerous for both you and your baby.”
8. You shouldn’t lift your hands over your head
“A popular wives’ tale says that if a woman lifts her arms above her head while pregnant, the cord could get wrapped around the baby’s neck,” Chandler said. “You won’t do any harm to your baby by lifting your arms.”
9. You’re eating for two!
“On average, pregnant women only need about 300 extra calories a day,” Chandler said. “Eat to your hunger, but follow your normal habits with maybe a little more snacking to get those extra calories in. Talk with your doctor if you feel you have a diminished or supercharged appetite.”
Childbirth is unpredictable — but thinking through your preferences ahead of time can make you feel more confident. This free Novant Health guide covers points to discuss with your care team as you create your customized birth plan.