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Separating Pregnancy Myths and Facts

>> Monday, January 17, 2011

If you're hoping to do everything right for your baby's health but confused by what seems like a growing list of pregnancy myths, you're not alone. Most mothers-to-be share similar concerns - and equal amounts of confusion.
I’m all about finding out what I can and can’t do while I am pregnant whether it’s about food, health or even beauty. I’ve come across many opinions when discussing what’s good and not good for your baby and what seems border line okay and definitely not okay. Here are a few myths I’ve heard about while going through this wonderful journey:
Cats The major threat is a parasite known as toxoplasma, which you can contract from exposure to feline fecal matter. The way to avoid it is simply to avoid changing your cat's litter box during pregnancy. Most people who have cats have already been exposed, so they likely have the antibodies against it. To be sure, however, you can ask your doctor for a blood test.

Hair Dye I have never dyed my hair and I have come across many opinions on whether its harmful or not. It's an old myth that's hard to kill, mostly because doctors themselves frequently err on the side of caution by recommending women don't dye or color their hair during pregnancy, particularly during the first trimester, when critical development changes are occurring in the baby. Same goes for hair straightening chemicals or permanent waves.
Computers The radiation is so small, particularly now with the use of LCD screens and no exposure to the cathode ray tube monitors of the past. The only risk of being on your computer would be if you were on there for a long amount of hours that could result in carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful wrist-related injury.

Caffeine I bounce back and forth on this one. I love to have my favorite soda every once in a while. I try and limit my intake to 1-2 a week. The rest of the time I spend consuming the good ole’ H2O! Although the relative safety of caffeine consumption during pregnancy has remained a point of debate in many medical circles, reducing caffeine intake during pregnancy below even conservative recommended intakes may have merit.
In research published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in February 2008, epidemiologists from the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in California found that women who consumed 200 milligrams or more of caffeine a day -- equal to about 12 ounces of coffee or about 30 ounces of tea -- may double their risk of miscarriage.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, "moderate caffeine consumption doesn't appear to cause miscarriage or preterm birth." Moderate caffeine consists of less than 200 milligrams of caffeine a day (about 12 ounces of coffee).
There will always be two sides, so do what makes you feel comfortable.
Fish Fish is among the foods that cause concern because of mercury, a metal that can be toxic to babies, children, and even adults.The FDA suggests pregnant women not eat more than 12 ounces (two average-size servings) of fish per week. Allowable fish include canned light tuna, shrimp, salmon, pollack, or catfish. Fish to avoid include swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tilefish, which contain high levels of mercury.

Soft Cheese It depends on the cheese. If the cheese is made from pasteurized milk, it's fine. But some cheese is made with raw (unpasteurized) milk, and it's not safe to eat or drink anything made with raw milk during pregnancy. Soft cheeses most likely to be made from raw milk include feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined cheese like Roquefort and gorgonzola, and Mexican-style cheese like queso blanco, queso fresco, and panela.
I was so bummed when I found out feta cheese was not the safest to eat while being pregnant. I love a nice Greek salad topped with loads of feta! To me it is not worth consuming and I can live without it for 9 months.
Raw milk and the food made from it can carry disease-causing organisms, including a bacterium called Listeriosis. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that it affects 2,500 people in the United States each year. But pregnant women are particularly susceptible, and the infection can be devastating and even deadly for unborn babies.
The CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) all recommend that pregnant women not eat foods made with unpasteurized milk.
Weight Gain One huge pregnancy myth involves how much additional food is really necessary to encourage the development of a healthy baby. Have you ever heard of the saying “you’re eating for two?” Just remember we're not feeding two adults! The latest information tells us that the average woman needs only about 300 extra calories a day if they are of normal weight when they conceive. If you're at a healthy weight, you need no additional calories in the first trimester, about 300 extra calories a day in the second trimester, and about 450 extra calories a day in the third trimester. If you're overweight or underweight, you'll need more or less than this depending on your weight gain goal. If you're very overweight when you get pregnant, then it's possible you should not add any additional calories to your diet, and it might even be OK if you lose a little bit of weight during pregnancy. At the same time, if you are underweight at conception, then you may have to add more than 300 calories a day and increase weight gain, just to get you up to speed to what your baby needs to grow strong and healthy. Try to minimize "extra" foods that have calories but few nutrients – sugary beverages, fried foods, foods with extra fat and sugar. Instead, choose meals and snacks that pack the most nutrition per calorie. Adding a few nutrition-packed snacks – like yogurt, nuts, a hard-boiled egg, some fresh fruits or vegetables – to your daily intake is a great way to get the healthy calories your baby needs.

What myths have you heard about? Any additional comments would be greatly appreciated!

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