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5 Major Pregnancy Myths Exposed

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5 Major Pregnancy Myths Exposed

How do pregnancy myths start? Where do they come from?

I’ll tell you where they don’t come from – women who have been through pregnancy.

Pregnancy myths have become so commonplace we don’t even question some of them anymore.

Sometimes, it feels to me like women have become secondary in their experience of pregnancy. The “experts” set the tone for what to expect when we’re expecting, instead of women and midwives who have been through pregnancy themselves.

And that’s how pregnancy myths get started. Unfortunately, experts often have conflicts of interest (including their desire to make a name for themselves). Every aspect of life during pregnancy, including supplements, nutrition, exercise, medical testing, and even sex, is now dictated mainly by experts.

What happened to common sense based on wisdom passed down through generations? You rarely find pregnancy myths here, which makes me wonder why we trust the experts so much.

Let’s look at a few of the most common pregnancy myths and why they’re false.

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5 MAJOR PREGNANCY MYTHS EXPOSED

Myth 1: “You’re eating for two!”

This pregnancy myth gets me upset. It feels very manipulative and just icky to me. I’ll tell you why.

During pregnancy, a woman’s body is going through natural changes. These changes may affect a woman’s appetite, libido, energy levels, immune system, etc. Women often must establish new trust with their bodies as they navigate these changes.

When someone tells a woman, “You’re eating for two! Don’t overthink what you’re eating or how much!” it encourages women to enter into a fraught relationship with food that almost inevitably follows them into postpartum.

A woman who is pregnant for the first time (or even second, third, or fourth) gives in to a craving for high-fat ice cream (intense pregnancy cravings are another myth I could get into) because she’s “eating for two” may then form a habit of eating ice cream whenever she feels like it. She’s pregnant. She should just listen to her body, right?

But is her body really signaling to her that it needs this high-fat, highly sweetened food made from the breastmilk of another species, or does she simply feel enabled to give in to her craving because she was encouraged to eat whatever whenever and worry about getting health again after birth?

Pregnancy is not a free license to eat junk food or to overeat. The female body is perfectly capable of signaling hunger during pregnancy, just as it does when a woman is not pregnant. You may increase your calorie intake slightly, but only by a little. A few extra healthy snacks per day will fill in the gap.

If you’re interested in what foods and supplements support a healthy pregnancy, visit my in-depth blog, Do Prenatal Vitamins Help? 10 Tips for Healthy Pregnancy, for a wealth of information.

The eating-for-two myth preys on women during a vulnerable time. As the body changes and women adjust, we should encourage balanced, healthy eating habits that do not differ significantly from what she is already accustomed to while leaving out things that are not good for the baby, which I’ll get to next.

Myth 2: Small amounts of alcohol, coffee, and chocolate are perfectly safe

This pregnancy myth gets me mad, too, if I’m honest. And this goes beyond pregnancy myths – this gets into the realm of health myths in general.

I cannot understand how we have allowed ourselves to be convinced that small amounts of toxic substances are safe and even healthy.

I know how it happened. Corporate interests don’t want their profits to plummet every time a woman gets pregnant, so they pay for “studies” that just so happen to show that their products are perfectly safe in moderation while a woman is creating life.

This is false.

Alcohol in all forms and all amounts is hard on the liver, brain, and body. Sure, one glass of wine contains less alcohol than five bottles of beer or a martini. Does that make it healthy? Absolutely not!

Read my blog, What Alcohol Does to Our Brains and Livers, for the complete picture of what alcohol does to us in any amount. When a woman is pregnant, whatever her body experiences, her baby experiences.

Caffeine is no different whether consumed in a cup of coffee or as a handful of dark chocolate. Caffeine amps up and weakens the adrenal glands, making the body acidic.

Increased acidity in the body drastically undermines your health, contributing to countless health conditions. And the adrenal glands are the primary engine of birth – you do not want them weakened during pregnancy. You want them strong when it’s time for birth.

Myth 3: Sex during pregnancy is harmful to your baby

Now for a fun one. The guidance to avoid sex is one of the most prevalent pregnancy myths of all time. You can forget about this one if you are concerned!

Sex during pregnancy can be some of the most pleasurable and fun you and your partner have ever had. Increased estrogen levels and blood flow to your reproductive system and genitalia mean that you may be more sensitive than ever in ways that surprise and delight.

Penetration will not harm the baby. The uterus is a well-protected, self-contained unit during pregnancy, and the body has several measures of protection to keep a fetus safe, including during intercourse.

You may feel the uterus moving around a bit, but it’s no reason for concern. You may also notice a bit of bleeding or spotting after sex, which is typical in cases where the cervix has become more sensitive. If it persists, call your doctor. There’s nothing to worry about if it’s just spotting and goes away after a day or two.

One precaution to take is if you are engaging in intercourse with new or multiple partners or if you are in a non-monogamous partnership. This is where this pregnancy myth is useful.

You want to protect against any potential for sexually transmitted diseases during pregnancy, as these can cause serious birth complications. Don’t engage with any sexual partners whose status is unknown.

It’s also totally normal if your libido lowers or is nonexistent during part or all of your pregnancy. Every woman is different, with her own unique biological and physiological set of circumstances. Don’t be concerned if you prefer to wait until about six weeks after birth to reengage with your partner.

While I’m not always a big fan of Healthline, this article on pregnancy during sex is quite good and informative. Give it a read to dive deeper into this pregnancy myth.

Myth 4: Avoid exercise during pregnancy

This pregnancy myth makes me laugh. I’ll be honest. I can’t help but wonder if there’s any way this idea came from a woman because it feels like a theory an authoritative male expert would come up with to sound smart.

Why would exercise be harmful to a normal, developing baby? Exercise is phenomenally supportive for the health of mothers, and it only serves a baby’s health.

It’s important to avoid high-impact activities during pregnancy and anything that creates a risk of falling or serious physical injury (no horseback riding or skiing, ladies!), but 20-30 minutes of moderate exercise daily is a wonderful routine to maintain during pregnancy.

Yoga, light rebounding in the first and second trimesters, walking, biking in safe open spaces, rowing, swimming, and dancing are all beautiful ways to exercise your body during pregnancy.

I know women who worked full-time jobs on their feet for 40 hours a week up until days before giving birth to phenomenally healthy babies. Don’t let this misguided pregnancy myth hold you back from moving your body in ways that feel good for you.

Myth 5: Routine tests are necessary for peace of mind and a healthy pregnancy

I’ve written and spoken extensively on my blog (read Debunking the 5 Major Birth Myths and Pain-Free Birth) and on live webinars (here) about this pregnancy myth and how I don’t believe birth should be viewed as just another medical procedure, alongside outpatient surgery, and emergency room visits.

Pregnancy and birth are natural processes that the female body is designed to carry out without medical intervention.

While we are fortunate to have the tools of modern medicine available to us, we have been encouraged to see regular medical checkups and testing as the only reliable way to gauge the health of our pregnancy and our developing babies.

During my years as a birthing practitioner, I observed how often women were encouraged to undergo procedures that were not only unnecessary but also potentially harmful. Doctors seemed to downplay the risks and discuss the benefits of “getting ahead of any potential congenital issues.”

There are exposures like radiation that women should be encouraged to consider with standard procedures like ultrasounds. Tests like an amniocentesis carry serious health risks to a growing fetus in the womb.

Diagnostics like these should not be treated lightly just because they are common. At the risk of sounding cynical, we must remember that hospitals charge for tests, procedures, and additional care. It’s essential to be sure that we feel whatever testing we undergo is valuable and necessary.

I always recommend that women work with an experienced midwife who can provide insight into the need for medical testing throughout pregnancy. In many cases, midwives will offer complementary guidance to whatever traditional doctors recommend so that a balanced decision can be made by parents who are expecting.

I don’t encourage anyone to rush into regular testing just for the sake of it.

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TAKING OUR VOICE AWAY

While many articles exposing pregnancy myths, birth myths, and other myths related to women’s health are informative, what I’d love to see more of is women who are fed up with being given false, misleading, or incomplete information about their bodies and their health.

I’m ready for women to get mad about all of the confusion that surrounds health. Too many of us have followed guidance we believed was well-intentioned, only to find that it either wasted our time and energy or ultimately harmed our health.

Too many women are being gaslit into believing that their bodies are faulty (autoimmune myth, anyone?), incurable, or letting them down somehow. So often, the experts perpetuating these trends take our voices away, disempowering us in the name of science and medical authority.

I’m here to tell you that the experts don’t have all the answers. Just look at how often science is still wrong when it comes to health and how common false pregnancy myths and other myths about health permeate our thinking.

As a woman determined to empower other women, I encourage you to look to your greatest teachers: God, your intuition, your body, and the women you trust.

As you tap into eternal wisdom innate in your being, you will become more attuned to what’s true and able to navigate around myths and misconceptions. I’m honored to help you find your voice in any way I can.

To your health and peace,

Muneeza

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Muneeza Ahmed

Hi, I'm Muneeza

I’m humbled to have supported over 11,000 people in 86 countries (and counting) to heal with the perfect blend of education, support and community. If you’re ready for your journey from hope to deep healing, you’re in the right place.

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Healing is my living, my purpose and my path. I’m humbled to have supported over 9,000 people in 72 countries (and counting) to heal with the perfect blend of education, support and community. If you’re ready for your journey from hope to deep healing, you’re in the right place. LEARN MORE
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Muneeza Ahmed - Medicine Woman
Healing is my living, my purpose and my path. I’m humbled to have supported over 9,000 people in 72 countries (and counting) to heal with the perfect blend of education, support and community. If you’re ready for your journey from hope to deep healing, you’re in the right place. LEARN MORE
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