From your mother-in-law to the stranger on the elevator,
everyone is ready to share their wisdom about what to do - or what
not to do - now that you're pregnant
To discern useful advice from fictional myths, we talked with
two experts: Sabina Dambrauskas, chairperson for the Illinois
Chapter of the American College of Nurse Midwives, and Dr. John
Hobbs, obstetrician at Northwestern Memorial's Prentice Women's
1. Don't bathe in hot tubs
True. The high temperatures in a hot tub can increase the
thermal temperature of the fetus, Hobbs says. But the other problem
is that pregnant women can become severely dehydrated long before
they realize it. Women can indulge in warm water baths unless their
water has broken.
2. Always wear a bra.
True. Wearing a bra during pregnancy can not only help with
soreness, it may reduce the sagging effects of gravity after
delivery. The extra weight of breasts preparing for nursing can
compromise the tissue around the breast, Hobbs says, and a
supportive bra can protect that tissue.
3. Don't eat soft cheese such as Brie, feta or queso
Maybe. Soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk may harbor
Listeria, bacteria that can be deadly for unborn babies. But
cheeses made with pasteurized milk are considered safe. Most
cheeses sold in the U.S. come from pasteurized milk, but be sure to
check the label.
4. Avoid coffee or other caffeinated
False. Drinking up to three cups of coffee per day has no
impact on the fetus, Dambrauskas says. The initial concern about
caffeinated drinks was based on early studies that followed women
who drank a lot of coffee, but also smoked. "Over time we've come
to realize that the problems came from the smoking and other
unhealthy behaviors, rather than the coffee," she says.
5: There's no need to change your exercise routine while
False. While exercise is essential to a health pregnancy,
Dambrauskas says, some common-sense precautions should be taken.
First, try to maintain a heart rate under 160 beats per minute and
make sure you don't become overheated.
Don't lie flat after about 16 weeks of pregnancy, as this can put
undue pressure on your blood vessels.
Finally, avoid exercises that require a great deal of balance,
such as biking, later in pregnancy. Dambrauskas cites research that
found women in their third trimester have more home accidents than
any other time in life because their sense of balance has been
altered by their ever-growing occupant.
6: Lifting your arms over your head causes the umbilical
cord to wrap around the baby.
False, false, false, says Hobbs. "That one has been around for a
while and it's absolutely not true," he said.
And while we're at it, the only way to predict the sex of a baby
is through diagnostic tests, not whether you have heartburn or
carry the baby low. "Tell your mother-in-law to buy yellow, it
works no matter what," Hobbs says.
Lisa Applegate is a Chicago mom and freelance writer who
specializes in health issues.
Lisa Applegate is a freelance writer and mom of one living in Chicago.
See more of Lisa's stories here.
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