Pregnancy is beautiful and incredibly exciting, but it can also be a very confusing time — especially if you're a first-time mum. Your body will constantly be changing, there's a lot of misinformation to avoid, and friends and family will start sharing all the old wives' tales they've heard.
But, in order to properly enjoy your pregnancy and know what is and isn't safe, it's important that you can separate fact from fiction. And, we're going to help you do just that by debunking some common myths about pregnancy.
You can't exercise
As long as your doctor hasn't said otherwise, it should be completely safe and healthy for you to stay active throughout your pregnancy — in fact, it's recommended. If you were particularly active before your pregnancy, you might find that you're still able to do a lot of the same exercises, especially in the first and early-second trimester. Although, it is best to avoid contact sports, any activities with a high risk of falling, exercise at high altitudes, scuba diving, and exercise classes with an instructor who hasn't been trained to teach mums-to-be.
If you weren't particularly active prior to your pregnancy, try some gentle exercises, such as walking or swimming, and build it up. We also have a guide to exercising as a new mum, which offers plenty of tips for staying fit and healthy once you've had your baby.
You can't dye your hair
Don't worry — falling pregnant doesn't mean you have to endure nine months of having unsightly roots that don't match the rest of your hair. The chemicals in permanent and semi-permanent dyes aren't highly toxic and research, although limited, has shown that colouring your hair while pregnant is typically safe. While some studies have found large doses of the chemicals in hair colouring products may cause harm, because you're only exposed to a very small amount of these when actually dyeing your hair, this isn't something you need to worry about, according to the NHS.
Although, it is worth noting that your hair might react differently to the dye, or become less absorbent, frizzy, or unpredictable while you're pregnant. So, even if you're confident using a particular dye, we would recommend doing a strand test before fully committing to dyeing your tresses during pregnancy.
You can't fly
There's no need to miss out on celebrating your last few months of complete freedom by enjoying a little babymoon abroad before your little one arrives, as it is safe to fly. Although, once you've progressed to week 28, you will need a letter from your midwife to confirm that you're in good health and your pregnancy is low risk. It's also vital that you ensure your travel insurance covers you while pregnant, and that you take your medical notes with you just in case.
Many airlines will have a policy against allowing women to travel when they're 36 weeks pregnant, or 32 weeks if you're carrying more than one baby. But, it's always worth checking their policy so you know the rules before booking anything!
You have to eat for two
Of course, don't be afraid to use your pregnancy as an excuse to treat yourself more frequently. But, there's no need to eat for two — in fact, mums-to-be only need 200 extra calories on top of the standard recommended 2,000, and that's only in the third trimester. So, don't force yourself to eat more than you need — as long as you feel comfortable and are getting all of the nutrients you and your baby need, there's nothing to worry about.
You can't get a manicure
Painting your nails is completely safe during pregnancy. Although, if you go to a salon to have your nails done by a professional, it's important that you choose a reputable establishment that has a good hygiene rating. It's also best to choose somewhere that's well-ventilated, so you aren't exposed to more fumes than necessary.
You might be worried that the chemicals associated with getting a manicure or pedicure are going to harm your baby, but there's no evidence to suggest this is the case. The biggest concern is skin conditions that can be caused by tools that aren't properly sterilised. But, if you visit a salon that you know and trust, you shouldn't have anything to worry about.
The size of your bump can indicate how healthy your baby is
Every woman's body is different and, as a result, every bump is unique. Some people believe that the size or position of a pregnant tummy can indicate how healthy or large your baby is going to be, but this simply isn't the case. There's also no measure of what a 'normal' bump should look like so, unless your doctor has said that there's cause for concern, don't worry about what yours looks like — no two pregnancies are the same, and bumps come in all different shapes and sizes.
All of your nausea will be confined to the morning
Around 70–80% of women will deal with nausea at some point in their pregnancy, according to Pregnancy Sickness Support. But, while this is most commonly known as "morning sickness", it can actually strike at any time throughout the day. It's also worth noting that, while this nausea is most often a problem in the first trimester, it can continue into the second. And, if you're particularly unlucky, it might carry on throughout your pregnancy.
Morning sickness got its name because it's typically triggered by your post-sleep empty stomach sending hormonal signals to your brain, which then make you feel sick. But, because the nausea can make it difficult for you to keep food down, your hunger can't always be satiated, which is why you can continue to feel ill past midday.
There are ways to predict the gender of your baby
There are so many old wives' tales that are supposed to be able to predict a baby's gender. For example, some people believe the position of your bump can show whether you're having a boy or a girl, while others think that hanging a ring on a chain over your tummy and seeing which way it swings can give you an indication. However, the only way you can really tell the gender of an unborn baby is through a high-quality ultrasound, and that isn't always 100% accurate. So, while it can be fun to play around and speculate about what you're having, we wouldn't start painting your nursery blue or pink based on the results you get!
There are so many myths surrounding pregnancy. Whether you've been worried about not being able to dye your hair, or are concerned about the position of your bump, we hope we've been able to put some of your concerns to rest.
To properly enjoy your pregnancy and know what is and isn't safe, it's important that you can separate fact from fiction.