Trying to decide between the 4-wheeler pushchair or the 3-wheeler pushchair, the crib or the moses basket, the foam interior cot mattress or the spring interior cot mattress, all while suffering with a severe lack of sleep and raging hormones? Aaaahhhh! Pregnancy is certainly a confusing enough time as it with without having to contend with picking out the truth from the absurd fibs in the mile-long list of what to avoid whilst pregnant. With so much information doing the rounds in pregnancy circles worldwide, and not all of it accurate, it can sometimes be difficult to know what to believe and what to take with a pinch of salt. So let's take a look at three of the most common pregnancy-related myths and see why these popular fables are nothing but little white lies.
1. You Can't Have Sex During Pregnancy
Myth! And an absolute classic myth, too. If you're experiencing a healthy and risk-free nine months, there is absolutely no reason why you can't continue to enjoy a bit of frolicking between the sheets.
The origins of this myth stem from the idea that intercourse can hurt the baby. But do you know just how well protected that baby is? In his own amniotic sac cocoon nestled deeply between the well-padded uterine walls, and with a strong mucus plug guarding the entrance to the cervix, there is no way the baby could be anything but oblivious to any goings on down below.
If you've experienced any bleeding it's always best to get the OK from a healthcare professional beforehand, but for the majority of women the only thing you'll need to worry about is logistics; it can be quite the challenge to work out where the bump fits into the picture (here's a quick hint: try doggy-style)! It comes as no surprise that a study published in a 1991 edition of the Journal of Sex Education & Therapy recorded a significant drop in sexual activity in participants during the third trimester!
2. You Must Sleep On Your Left Side Throughout Pregnancy
Myth! Can you imagine sleeping solely on your left side for a whole nine months? No flipping over to the right, no relaxing on your back and no snuggling down into your pillow on your front? It wouldn't just be uncomfortable and inconvenient, it would be downright painful!
Now fair enough, sleeping on your stomach isn't recommended once your bump starts to form, but chances are you wouldn't find that position comfortable anyway. But what's so wrong about the other sleeping options? It has been suggested that the weight of the baby can put pressure onto the veins when a pregnant women remains in certain positions for long periods of time. This restricts blood flow, limiting the amount of oxygen reaching the baby.
A study published in a 2011 British Medical Journal found a possible link between right-side sleeping and stillbirths, reporting an increase in pregnancy loss from 1.96 in every 1000 births to 3.93 per 1000. However, what the study fails to examine is if a particular sleeping position actually caused the loss; a rather big factor, wouldn't you agree? The study itself is, to date, one of a kind, and openly addresses the issue of inaccuracies by stating that "a forceful campaign urging pregnant women to sleep on their left side is not yet warranted. Further research is needed before the link between maternal sleep position and risk of stillbirth can be regarded as strongly supported".
3. You Should Avoid exercise During Pregnancy
Myth! Of course myth. And with the huge popularity of "aquanatal" and antenatal yoga I'm sure you've already figured out that this one is pulling your leg a little bit.
Obviously there are some sports and exercises that aren't practical for a pregnant woman; scuba diving, rock climbing, squash... anything that limits oxygen or could be dangerous should definitely be avoided, that's just common sense. But there are plenty of ways to keep fit during pregnancy such as walking, dancing or swimming. Specialized classes designed specifically for pregnant women are available in most sports centers and focus on gentle exercises that won't have you gasping for breath after every move.
If you've experienced any bleeding or have a high-risk pregnancy, it's always best to check with a healthcare professional before undertaking any exercise, expecially exercises that you're not used to. But for most women, antenatal exercise is beneficial not only for managing weight gain, but also for emotional and physical wellbeing. A study published in the 1995 Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that women who undertook regular gentle exercise during early pregnancy reported fewer discomforts throughout later pregnancy. A great excuse to don those running shoes!
So if you've been abstaining from sex, napping on a painful left hip or hiding from your bathing costume, now's the time to stop. Research indicates that there's no proof that any of the above can cause harm to either you or your baby as long as you're enjoying a healthy pregnancy. And stop believing all this folklore. If you're wondering what's safe and what's not, have a chat with your Doctor or other healthcare professional; they are far more qualified to give advice than Internet forums full of old wives tales!