Navigating fertility and trying to conceive can be overwhelming and confusing, but when you're actually pregnant, it's a whole new world. All of a sudden everyone has opinions, advice, warnings, and suggestions—it's enough to make your head spin. At times it can be hard to differentiate fact from fiction, so we spoke with Cynthia Gyamfi-Bannerman, ob-gyn at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, for her expert insight.
Stress can negatively affect a pregnancy: True
Being too stressed out while pregnant can, in fact, affect your pregnancy. Gyamfi-Bannerman says, "There are some pathways that may connect stress to preterm delivery. However, many women experience stress during normal, healthy pregnancies; and there is no established threshold of stress beyond which complications occur."
C-sections are more dangerous than vaginal births: Potentially true
Though it was truer it the early 1900s than today, there is a higher potential for maternal complications with cesarean sections, "including blood loss, infections, and blood clots," says Gyamfi-Bannerman. "Otherwise, both modes of delivery are fairly safe."
You can elect to have a C-section: Sort of true
While most providers advocate for vaginal deliveries, Gyamfi-Bannerman explains, "some women have complications such as a placenta previa (a placenta that covers the cervix) or breach that would require a cesarean." So while women can request an elective cesarean, they should know that most doctors will try to talk them out of it.
You need to avoid seafood during pregnancy: False
Seafood lovers rejoice (within reason)! In fact the opposite is true. Gyamfi-Bannerman says, "The right type of fish has fatty acids that are important for the developing baby's brain. Some fish have high levels of mercury and should be avoided, but your doctor should be able to guide you. Avoiding fish would be a mistake."
Deli meats are dangerous: Not exactly true
Pregnant woman are consistently told to avoid deli meats, but the reason for it is not entirely accurate. Gyamfi-Bannerman says, "Deli meats are not dangerous, however, the potential to get a listeria infection from deli meats exists. Listeria is also more common in pregnant than nonpregnant populations, but is still fairly uncommon."
A higher fetal heart rate means it's a girl: False
Despite the old wives' tale, Gyamfi-Bannerman says, "It is not possible to determine the sex of the baby by the heart rate."
Ultrasounds can be dangerous during pregnancy: False
"Ultrasounds are thought to be very safe," the doctor advises. "However, use of Doppler ultrasound to look at blood flow should be avoided in the first trimester."
Fetal home dopplers are a safe way to check in on your baby: Not exactly
As tempting as it is to purchase a home Doppler and check your baby's heart rate from time to time, Gyamfi-Bannerman says, "Fetal home Dopplers are a bad idea." She explains that there are many sounds coming from your uterus, and some of those can mimic a heart rate. So "an untrained ear may be falsely reassured by noises that are not the fetal heart rate. It is better to contact your obstetric provider if you are unsure."
Cravings are a way for your body to tell you what nutrients you need: False
As much as you might think your body is telling you to eat all the pizza, ice cream, and cupcakes because you "need" it, she says, "This is not true. As much as possible, try to keep a well-balanced diet."
You might poop when pushing: True
Yep. You might. And it's OK. "The maneuver to push is similar to having a bowel movement. If you are doing a great job pushing, you may lose some stool. You shouldn't worry; it's unlikely that you will ever know, and a nice OB will never tell you," Gyamfi-Bannerman says. Essentially, sh*t happens.
You should abstain from sex while pregnant: It depends.
Pregnancy can have a drastic effect on your libido, and it can go both ways. Gyamdi-Bannerman says, "While some women may need to abstain from sex for specific conditions, in general this is not true." So unless your doctor warns otherwise, it's perfectly safe to get it on.
You should avoid coffee when pregnant: False
Most women can still indulge in a cup of coffee. The doctor explains, "Excessive amounts of caffeine have been associated with early miscarriage. However, a regular cup of coffee a day should be OK. Keep in mind that tea, chocolate, and other foods may have caffeine."
We hope this helped clear some things up. Gyamfi-Bannerman reminds you that "your OB is happy to help you through your journey. He/she is a great resource for questions like this and will be happy to help."