For something that’s people have been doing for as long as there have been people, there is a surprising amount of confusion about pregnancy (and I’m not just talking about man-children who didn’t pay attention in sex-ed class). We (mostly) all know that sex leads to pregnancy, but once you’re actually there, baby-in-womb, well…at that point things get a little more confusing. The list of things you should or should not do is huge, even though half of it is either wrong or based on nothing in particular. But you do it anyway! Cause you don’t want to screw around with your baby. That li’l tot is PRECIOUS.
So let’s make this a little easier on all you pregnant or eventually-may-be-pregnant ladies (and also would-be-fathers) out there and do some debunking:
Myth #1: Pregnant people shouldn’t have sex.
I’m putting this right at the top because you’ll be very glad to know this is totally untrue. Basically, the only restrictions when it comes to pregnant sex are a) make sure the pregnant woman is comfortable (which should really always be a concern) and b) don’t have unprotected sex if your partner has or may have an STI, as that can cause serious health risks for the baby.
Those two bits of advice are pretty solid all around sexual health advice, so feel free to just do those things regardless of whether your pregnant.
Being pregnant has been known to make sex uncomfortable or even painful as the pregnancy progresses, and if that is the case, then you can just cool it on the intercourse for a little while.
Myth #2: Pregnant people shouldn’t get vaccinations.
This one is pretty important – while there are some vaccinations that are not recommended for pregnant women, while others are definitely recommended for pregnant women. This handy chart will tell you which is which, but the idea is that vaccines that work via inactivated virus or bacterial exposure are ok, while vaccines that work through live virus exposure might potentially cause harm to the fetus. It is particularly recommended that pregnant women get a flu vaccine (though not the nasal spray version) because pregnant women are more at risk for serious complications if they do get the flu.
Myth #3: You shouldn’t have any caffeine if you’re pregnant.
Though I will never be pregnant (I’m a dude), it pains me to think this is true – luckily, it’s only mostly correct. A whole bunch of studies have been done to try and see whether caffeine is actually harmful during pregnancy, but many of them kind of contradict each other. The problem is that the gold standard of medicine, a randomized controlled trial, is not ethically feasible to do because maybe caffeine does harm fetuses. At this point, the prevailing advice is for pregnant women to limit their intake to under 200 mg a day, or about one 12-ounce cup of coffee.
But thank god for that one cup, ammiright?
Myth #4: If you’re pregnant, skip the cheese plate.
Again, this is a myth that rates partially true. The rational here is that some cheeses – particularly soft cheeses, which have high moisture content – may be contaminated with listeria, which is known to cause miscarriages. But hard cheeses and soft cheeses that are both non-imported and clearly marked as having been made from pasteurized milk are safe to eat.
You should also avoid all mold-ripened cheeses and blue cheeses unless they have been thoroughly cooked all the way through.
Listeria is very uncommon, but it is still recommended that you follow these guidelines because even pretty mild forms of the illness, usually not at all a problem for an adult, can be very problematic to a pregnancy.
Myth #5: If you’re in your third trimester, stay out of the friendly skies.
Many pregnant women stay out of the sky, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing – if there is any sort of complication in the air, it can be difficult to get help. However, the medical advice is that it is generally safe for a woman with a healthy pregnancy to fly up until around the 36th week of pregnancy. After that, best stay on the ground, just in case.
Things to think about: If you are gonna fly, what will you do if something obstetric comes up? Also, some airlines may have policies against women who are very far along in their pregnancies flying, so definitely don’t forget to check that before you show up 8 months pregnant for your 16 hour flight to Asia.
Another reason some women avoid flying during pregnancy is that you are at a slightly elevated exposure to radiation when there is less atmosphere above you. That being said, the increase is very slight, so unless you fly very frequently (pilot, flight attendant), radiation is nothing to worry about for a pregnancy.
Myth # 6: Don’t munch on nuts while pregnant.
Nuts are great snacking foods – high in healthy fats, they can kill your hunger pangs even if you don’t gorge on them. But pregnant women have to skip all those benefits because they might cause their babies to develop allergies, right?
Nah. In 2000, it was publicly advised that women not eat nuts, particularly peanuts, while pregnant because the thinking went that it might influence the development of allergies in the child. That thinking wasn’t actually really based on any published research, just deduction, and now there is research that indicates the opposite. So unless you have an allergy to peanuts, or some other reason why you should be avoiding them, feel free to eat them while your pregnant.