How much about pregnancy do you really know? You know the basics about how reproduction works: Egg plus sperm equals baby. But beyond that, how sure are you that what you believe about pregnancy is actually based on fact and not just tradition or hearsay? For example, is it true that if you carry the baby low, it’s definitely a girl? Or do you have to give up coffee? Do you have to have a kid before you can get an IUD? Which “oh-so common” pregnancy facts are actually pregnancy myths you should stop listening to?
The more you think about it, the less you really know for sure, which is why I reached out to OBGYNs and fertility experts to help debunk some of the common myths that persist around pregnancy. Honestly, some of these really caught me by surprise (the coffee one in particular). It’s kind of amazing how many of the things we’re sure we know, but are actually just something we’ve heard in passing, or that’s misinformation that’s been passed along for generations — but that actually has no scientific backing. So, if you’re pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, here’s what the experts want you to know.
MYTH #1: CARRYING “HIGH” OR “LOW” CAN TELL YOU WHAT GENDER THE BABY IS.
Nope, says Dr. Kecia Gaither, double board-certified in OBGYN and director of Perinatal Services at NYC Health, tells Elite Daily. There is zero truth to this myth. “The manner in which a pregnant abdomen appears has nothing to do with fetal sex, and everything to do with maternal abdominal muscle tone,” she explains. “Having lax abdominal musculature allows the uterus to have less abdominal wall support — hence the appearance of ‘carrying low.’”
MYTH #2: PREGNANT WOMEN SHOULDN’T REACH FOR THINGS BECAUSE IT WILL CAUSE THE UMBILICAL CORD TO STRANGLE THE BABY.
“Wrong!,” says Dr. Geither. “The baby and its umbilical cord are housed in a bag of liquid, the amniotic fluid, which serves, among other things, as a buffer,” she explains. “Maternal reaching movements have nothing to do with increasing the risk of fetal strangulation by the umbilical cord. Actually, fetal movements and umbilical cord length may factor in where and how the cord moves in utero.”
MYTH #3: YOU CAN’T TAKE A BATH WHILE YOU’RE PREGNANT.
Think you’re stuck taking only showers for nine months? Dr. Gaither says think again. “Sure you can, as long as you haven’t broken your water,” she confirms. “The sealed uterine cavity with the amniotic fluid has many functions, among them is to provide a sterile place for fetal development. Upon rupture of the membranes — or breaking your water — that boundary is disrupted allowing pathogens to ascend from the vagina into the uterine cavity causing infection. Thus sitting in dirty bath water with ruptured membranes isn’t a good idea.”
MYTH #4: IF YOU HAVE POLYCYSTIC OVARIAN SYNDROME (PCOS) YOU CAN’T GET PREGNANT.
Women who have been diagnosed with PCOS, which the Mayo Clinic explains is “a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age,” where “women with PCOS may have infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods” and “the ovaries may … fail to regularly release eggs,” believe it means they can never get pregnant. However, fertility nurse and coach Kate Davies, says this is just one more myth to stop believing.
“When diagnosed with PCOS, many women are told and believe that they’re not ovulating and this will make conceiving naturally more difficult. However, with the help of PCOS-friendly fertility monitors like OvuSense, and proper understanding of your own cycle, women with PCOS are still able to conceive and give birth,” she tells Elite Daily.
MYTH #5: YOU CAN’T GET PREGNANT WHILE YOU’RE ON YOUR PERIOD.
If you think having sex while being on your period is a form a birth control, Dr. Gloria Bachmann, director of the Women’s Health Institute at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, is here to debunk that myth. “Some women may be fertile while they are still menstruating,” she tells Elite Daily. “This is especially true for women with short cycles. Since ovulation typically occurs 14 days before the next menses, for those women with a 25-day cycle, they may still have some vaginal bleeding or spotting on day eight of their cycle, a point when they may be fertile, since sperm can thrive in the cervical canal about 72 hours.”
MYTH #6: YOU CAN ONLY GET AN IUD AFTER YOU HAVE KIDS.
Because an IUD, depending on the type, can be used for up to 12 years, some folks may be under the misconception that they can only have one inserted after they’ve already had a child. That’s far from the truth, says Dr. Bachmann. “In fact, there are IUDs that are specifically for women who have not had a pregnancy,” she explains.
MYTH #7: YOU CAN’T FLY ON AN AIRPLANE WHILE YOU’RE PREGNANT.
Good news! If you’ve booked a vacation and found out you’re pregnant, you don’t have to cancel that flight, as Dr. Beth Donaldson, medical director and family physician at Copeman Healthcare Centre, tells Elite Daily. “Technically, it is perfectly safe to get on a jetliner when you’re pregnant. However, they recommend limiting travel during your third trimester to avoid going into labour mid-flight!” she says.
MYTH #8: YOU CAN’T DYE YOUR HAIR WHEN YOU’RE PREGNANT.
Guess what: If you’re pregnant and normally dye your hair, it turns out you don’t have to have sad roots for nine months! “The amount of chemicals absorbed through the scalp during hair treatment is very low. If you want to be cautious while touching up your roots, opt for a low-ammonia dye,” says Dr. Donaldson.
MYTH #9: YOU CAN’T DRINK COFFEE WHILE YOU’RE PREGNANT.
Get ready for your life to change. Turns out coffee is still on the menu, even when you’re pregnant. “It’s perfectly safe to have one or two [cups per day]. Just don’t overdo it!” says Dr. Donaldson. Mind. Blown.
MYTH #10: HAVING UNPROTECTED SEX ONCE WON’T GET YOU PREGNANT.
This one seems like common knowledge, but if you’re still skeptical, take it from reproductive and endocrinology specialist, Dr. Shahin Ghadir. “One common myth is that having just one episode of unprotected intercourse will not get you pregnant. That is completely false, especially because good sperm can last inside the body anywhere between two to five days. There is nothing correct about this myth,” he tells Elite Daily.
MYTH #11: POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION IS SOMETHING TO BE ASHAMED OF, OR SHOULDN’T BE TALKED ABOUT.
Postpartum depression is real and can happen to anyone, but it’s nothing you should be ashamed, as Dr. Kristin Yates, of Garrison Women’s Health, tells Elite Daily. “I encourage women to be aware that it is a possibility and it is nothing to be ashamed of. It is way more common than people think. Women shouldn’t be embarrassed if they feel sad or depressed. It is encouraged that they make appointments with their providers to discuss their feelings. We try to ensure that our patients never feel as though they are alone,” she says
MYTH #12: YOU CAN’T WORK OUT OR HAVE SEX WHEN PREGNANT.
This one is a good news/bad news situation. You can still have sex while you’re pregnant, yay! But pregnancy is not an excuse to skip the gym. Boo! “Most of the time, it is completely safe to have sex throughout pregnancy, unless your OB provider has told you not to because of a pregnancy-related complication,” says Dr. Yates. “You can continue to exercise regularly as you have prior to pregnancy as long as you feel comfortable.” In fact, exercise in moderation is encouraged, says Dr. Felice Gersh, OBGYN and author of the upcoming book PCOS SOS: A Gynecologist’s Lifeline To Naturally Restore Your Rhythms, Hormones and Happiness. “Moderate exercise is great for pregnant moms. Exercise reduces stress, keeps blood circulating well, and improves labor,” she tells Elite Daily.
MYTH #13: USING LOTS OF LOTION ON YOUR STOMACH WILL PREVENT STRETCH MARKS.
According to board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Joshua Zuckerman, all the creams in the world won’t prevent stretch marks if you’re naturally going to get them. Sorry. “One widespread myth I encounter from patients is if stretch marks are possible to avoid by applying a topical product such as coconut oil or cocoa butter during pregnancy. Stretch marks are dermal scars in the deeper layers of the skin and unfortunately cannot be treated with any known topical solution. Stretch marks are influenced by the elasticity of one’s skin, age, and amount of weight gain,” he tells Elite Daily.
MYTH #14: USING PLAN B WILL MAKE YOU INFERTILE.
If you’ve ever worried about taking Plan B (aka the morning after pill) because you think it will affect your fertility, you can stop believing that myth now, says Dr. Nataki Douglas, chair of the Modern Fertility Medical Advisory Board. “Using plan B does not affect your fertility,” Dr. Douglas confirms. “Plan B is a huge dose of hormones used in many birth control pills that prevents fertilization of an egg or prevents the fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus. Once you get your period, your cycle has restarted and the Plan B hormones are out of your system.”
Are you as blown away by some of these myths as I was? Remember: Knowledge, especially around something as personal and important as your own fertility, is power. So take notes, and, of course, celebrate the fact that not even pregnancy has to keep you from drinking coffee or getting busy. Bless.