Pregnancy is an incredible experience that raises a lot of questions, and sometimes the answers people get are simply misunderstandings or myths. Our physicians are always available and eager to answer all pregnancy questions women and their partners may have.
Having good information is essential to having a good pregnancy. Sometimes, like with the appropriate heart rate level for pregnant women, our understanding changes and the previous recommendations have a way of sticking around. Other times, such as doing yoga or exercising, these myths come from a fear that the mother may cause a problem through her physical activities.
Pregnancy myth #1: Keep your heart rate low
In the past, it was recommended that pregnant women keep their heart rates lower than 140 beats per minute. This limit is no longer recognized as valid.
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends pregnant women engage in moderate to intensive exercise 150 minutes per week with no heart rate limit. However, it is important that pregnant women do not overexert themselves through exercise. But this is not associated with a specific heart rate.
Exercising while pregnant is one of the most common concerns of new mothers. If the pregnancy is healthy, there is no reason for a mom to not exercise. According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), physical activity does not increase a healthy mother’s risk of low birth weight, miscarriage or early delivery.
Pregnancy myth #2: Yoga can be harmful
Yoga is a valuable exercise for new mothers – and everyone – as it helps reduce stress. Yoga can also improve flexibility and techniques that can help focus breathing. Stretching can help alleviate lower back pain that is often associated with pregnancy.
It is important to avoid poses that may require a pregnant woman to lie on her back for an extended period of time. Prenatal yoga is the recommended version as it is designed specifically for pregnant women.
“Hot yoga” or power yoga should be avoided as it may result in overheating.
Pregnancy myth #3: Waiting after a miscarriage
There is a long-standing misconception that after an individual suffers a miscarriage, there should be a waiting time before trying to get pregnant again. This is not true. The myth is partly due to old data that has been debunked. There are very few reasons a couple would need to wait to try again. Medically, you can immediately start trying after a miscarriage.
However, a miscarriage can be an emotional and difficult experience. Couples or individuals dealing with a miscarriage may not want to immediately try again. If the experience was traumatic, it is best to wait and emotionally recover from the loss.
Pregnancy myth #4: Birth control works 3 months after stopping it
One of the most pervasive old wives’ tales about getting pregnant is that it takes a while for birth control to quit working after a person stops taking it. There is a myth that a woman has to wait three months after stopping birth control, typically “the pill,” before trying to get pregnant.
For most women, this three-month mark is incredibly far off. It is possible for women to get pregnant immediately after stopping birth control. The pill works by stopping ovulation, so once a woman stops taking birth control, ovulation returns.
Pregnancy myth #5: “Eating for two”
The phrase “eating for two” is one that pregnant women say and hear often. Many women believe they have to eat much more while going through pregnancy in order to keep up with the demands of growing a baby. This often means women are overeating while pregnant.
Pregnant women only need to consume 300 more calories per day than usual. Those 300 extra calories should be from a healthy, balanced diet to get the benefits. A woman with a normal body weight should gain 25-30 extra pounds, while a woman who is overweight may only need to gain 10-20 pounds while pregnant.According to the NIH MedlinePlus, maintaining a healthy weight while pregnant can help reduce the chances of preterm birth, gestational hypertension, the need for a C-section and more.