At every stage of your pregnancy — and even after your baby is born — there’s a lot of information you need to know to keep yourself and your baby healthy. You can get lost in all the do’s and don’ts you find on the Internet. You are probably getting advice from family and friends, too. While everyone might have the best intentions, they could be giving you incorrect information. Some of the advice you read and hear could be based on myths.
Check the pregnancy myths below to make sure you know what’s true — and safe.
Myth #1: It’s OK to have a little bit of alcohol while you are pregnant.
This is one of the most dangerous myths out there. It is never OK to have any amount of alcohol while pregnant. Do not listen to anyone who tells you that you can have a glass of red wine or any other type of alcohol.
If you drink alcohol while you are pregnant, you are taking a huge risk. It can pass from your blood to your baby’s blood, where it could damage the baby’s brain and spinal cord cells. Other effects of alcohol can include growth problems, birth defects, learning and behavior problems, and others that could last throughout your baby’s life. No treatment can reverse the impact of alcohol on your baby’s health. Heavy alcohol use can also lead to miscarriage, still birth or, a baby being born early.
You can still unwind with a drink — if there is no alcohol in it. Trade your favorite mixed drink for a nonalcoholic version.
Myth #2: Because marijuana is a plant, it’s natural and safe to use while you are pregnant.
While some people consider marijuana a natural remedy for conditions like anxiety and nausea, it is not safe to use while you are pregnant. You should avoid all forms of marijuana while pregnant. Using marijuana can lead to preterm labor. It can also cause tremors, learning problems, depression, certain types of cancer, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and other issues for your baby.
Since marijuana can harm your baby in the first weeks of pregnancy, the sooner you can stop, the better. If you need help quitting, reach out. Your friends and family are a good place to start for support. You and your doctor can discuss treatment options together.
Myth #3 – You don’t need to drink extra water during pregnancy.
You do need to drink more water while you are pregnant — for several reasons. Between morning sickness and fatigue, pregnancy can be uncomfortable. If you don’t increase the amount of water you drink, you might add constipation and hemorrhoids to the list, and here’s why.
Your increased blood supply demands more fluid intake. This can make you more likely to get dehydrated and have slow bowel movements. The iron in your prenatal vitamins also may be constipating. Drink at least eight 12-ounce glasses of water each day to keep solids moving through your bowels and help keep your stools soft. If this isn’t helping, talk to your doctor about over-the-counter stool softeners, such as Colace.® Avoid laxatives, though: the ingredient that stimulates the bowel to contract also may cause the uterus to contract. Water can help with fatigue, too. Plus, it helps with kidney and liver functions for both you and the baby. In short, staying hydrated can help you have a healthier and more comfortable pregnancy.
For some, drinking more water can be challenging. Try these tips for adding water into your day:
- Drink liquids between meals — not with them — to avoid heartburn.
- Avoid caffeineand sugary drinks, which can cause dehydration.
Myth #4 – You can’t get pregnant while you are breastfeeding.
You certainly can. If you are breastfeeding, you may not have a period for many months or until the baby weans. If you bottle feed, you can expect your first normal period four to six weeks after the birth. Your first few periods may not come in a regular pattern, but they will do so within a few months. During this time, it is still possible to get pregnant.
Myth #5 – You can’t get pregnant again until your period comes back.
You can become pregnant even when you are not having periods. Your doctor will discuss with you when it’s safe to have sex after giving birth. In general, it’s best to wait until any stitches (or Caesarean scar) and other pelvic structures have healed. This can take up to six weeks. Practice birth control any time you want to have sex without becoming pregnant. Discuss the options below with your doctor to see which is best for you.
- Barrier methods. Barrier methods include the diaphragm, cervical cap, male condom, female condom, and spermicidal foam, sponge, gel, suppository, and film. You can get pregnant the next time you have sex when you stop using any barrier method.
- Combination hormonal methods. These methods include pills, skin patches, and rings. They contain both estrogen and progestin (synthetic progesterone). You can get pregnant right away after stopping regular-dose or low-dose hormonal birth control. About half of women get pregnant in the first three months after stopping the pill, and most women get pregnant within 12 months after stopping the pill. Specific information about how quickly a woman’s fertility returns after stopping use of patches or rings is not available, although experts believe the delay may be similar to or shorter than the pill.
- Progestin-only hormonal methods. These methods include pills, an implant (such as Implanon or Nexplanon), and a shot (such as Depo-Provera). With the implant, you can get pregnant as soon as it is removed. It may take three to 18 months after your last shot to get pregnant. The progestin-only pill, also called the “mini-pill,” does not seem to delay fertility. Most women will get pregnant within six months after stopping the mini-pill.
- Intrauterine devices (IUDs). For both the copper IUD and hormonal IUD, fertility usually returns with the first menstrual cycle following IUD removal.
A health care provider is always your best source for information. Ask your doctor, nurse, or maternity health coach any questions you have about your pregnancy. A maternity health coach can be a great resource to help you have a healthy baby. If you don’t have a maternity health coach yet, check with your health plan to see if it offers this benefit.