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Debunking pregnancy myths: the FACTS vs the WHACKS

Pregnant woman holding a question mark being confusedOld wives tales.

Sometimes it can be hard to tell them apart from the truth. Everything from gender prediction to ways to start labour.

We’ve got you covered with a practical guide to the Facts vs the Whacks of pregnancy.

Please note: Although careful research has been put into this article – It should be viewed as a general guide only. For concerns or advice on your health during pregnancy, you should always consult your local GP or health professional.

Myth One: You need to eat for two when pregnant

Many women are told that when they are pregnant they need to ‘eat for two’. This is simply not true. The truth is, being pregnant creates the need for roughly 150 extra calories per day (about the amount you would find in a serve of yoghurt). Rather than eating for two meal wise, you should aim to eat for two nutritionally. A GP or nutritionist can give great specific dietary advice for those seeking a precise diet for their pregnancy.

Myth Two: You should avoid the flu shot when pregnant

Why? Some people suggest that getting the flu shot is a bad idea during pregnancy due to increased risks. Generally you will find these same people avoiding vaccines of all kinds..

It is actually recommended by most doctors and health professionals that pregnant women get the flu shot, as it can decrease the chances of flu-related complications in pregnancy. It is particularly helpful to those who would fall into a high risk category such as asthma sufferers, diabetics or people with liver, heart or kidney conditions.

There is no evidence that the flu shot is harmful to a pregnant woman or her unborn child.

Myth Three: You should avoid salmon when pregnant

Some people believe that salmon has high levels of mercury or an increased risk of listeria so should be avoided at all costs during pregnancy. The truth, however, is that salmon (that is well cooked and from a trustworthy source) is fine, in fact fantastic to eat when you are pregnant. Mercury levels in salmon is low and when cooked, bacteria is killed. It is actually quite the resourceful food for a mummy and bubby as it is high in vitamin B6, B12, magnesium, protein and Vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin).

Just make sure to follow healthy preparation guidelines and ALWAYS avoid raw, uncooked salmon/seafood.

Myth Four: Morning sickness happens until 12 weeks

You don’t need to be an expert to figure out that morning sickness is a lie. The name itself is misleading. It should be called ‘all-the-time-sickness’! For some women (who are lucky) morning sickness doesn’t happen at all. For some it does fall into the 12 weeks bracket (while HCG levels are skyrocketing). However, for the many of us it is unfortunately more like ‘all day sickness at any place, any time, possibly throughout the entire pregnancy!’

Rest, eat licorice and gingerbread biscuits. Myth or not, it’s worth a try right?

Myth Five: Carrying determines sex

If you carry high and wide you’re having a little lady. Carry low like a teardrop and it’s boy town for you, Honey.

Now before you rush off to buy $2000 worth of lilac pink outfits and set about painting your nursery, be aware of the bullstinkery of these statements. The best real way to tell what sex your baby is, is by seeing for yourself after it is born. The best predictors of baby’s sex is via chromosomal testing (generally used to screen for trisomies 21, 18 and 13) or via your sonographer at the 18-20 week ultrasound. Although ultrasound is one of the most accurate insights, even the experts have been known to get it wrong, so think of it as the ‘most likely’ outcome. Don’t even give the way you carry a second thought.

Myth Six: Having sex hurts the baby

Unless your doctor has specifically given you instructions to abstain from sex, (and we should always check with our GP about our individual circumstances) there is absolutely no reason why you can’t go at it like bunny rabbits! According to the experts; there are seven layers of skin between the amniotic sac and the abdominal wall, plus your uterus which is designed to protect baby by hardening lengthening and preventing infection through various means to stop anything hurting your little one. In fact, it is said that the rocking motion of sex can help put your little one to sleep! Not sure how you should take that one? Neither are we!

Myth Seven: Exercise during pregnancy is dangerous

Na-uh! Although you should always consult a doctor about what exercises are safe for you before embarking on anything physical, exercising while pregnant couldn’t be better for you and your unborn baby! Always seek professional medical advice, however, to determine what kind of routines would be safe for you.

Myth Eight: Castor oil will put you in labour

Wrong. So wrong. Taking a big dose of castor oil when you’ve reached those drawn out days of late pregnancy is about as helpful for labour as sacrificing a goat is to get revenge on your enemies. There is absolutely no evidence to support this myth. It will make you sick, bloated and possibly give you diarrhoea, but the only way you will go into labour this way is if it was going to happen anyway. If that be the case you will most likely not have a very good one because you’ll already be feeling yuck from the oil … not cool.

So what are the facts?

After so many debunkings you may be wondering which advice actually holds true. Well here are a few that hold real credibility.

Spa Baths

Jumping in a hot spa bath while pregnant risks the wellbeing of your baby. This is because with the heat from the spa bath, (or any hot bath for that matter), can raise your core temperature to a point that is unsafe for your unborn child. Warm baths in your personal home should be fine so long as the tub is clean, but be aware of the temperature and try not to raise it above 32 degrees Celsius.


When GPs, nutritionists and specialists warn you against eating soft served or uncooked foods while pregnant such as raw seafood, soft serve ice cream, cold prepared salads and foods like offal and creamy cheeses – they aren’t doing so to spoil your fun. Listeria is a bacterium that is transferred to animals and humans through food that has become contaminated. Although the risk is relatively low, when a pregnant woman contracts listeriosis, the effects can be devastating. Miscarriage, stillbirth, and premature labour are a few of the known symptoms among meningitis, lung infection and blood poisoning in infants. It’s just not worth it for a soft serve ice cream!

Smoking in pregnancy

Most of us know smoking is not good for our health. We also know that doing so while pregnant jeopardises the health of mother and baby. However, some people are still unaware of exactly what happens to an unborn child when their mother smokes. Every time you inhale cigarette smoke while pregnant, you are limiting the oxygen supply to your baby due to the nicotine and carbon monoxide invading your bloodstream. You put stress on your baby’s fragile heart and lungs and risk higher chances of infection, low birth weight, miscarriage and stillbirth.

Image credit: kaarsten/123RF Stock Photo

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