Pregnancy myth busters

Is drinking coffee bad during pregnancy? Does eating a hot curry bring on labour? We investigate which pregnancy myths you can ignore.

When you’re pregnant, people love to offer ‘helpful’ advice. Some of these tips are based in fact, but many are simply old wives tales that have been repeated over time. We spoke to Dr Tim Ross, Bupa’s Director of Aged Care Medical Services, to find out whether science supports some of these myths.

Morning sickness only happens in the morning and only in the first trimester

Some women experience no morning sickness at all, while for others ‘morning’ is an understatement. 

Dr Ross says, “Some people have morning sickness that goes all day and some people have morning sickness that goes all pregnancy. It’s called morning sickness because for the majority of women, yes, it’s probably worse in the morning and it does only last the first trimester, but that’s not an absolute.”

You’re eating for two now

Generally used as an excuse to grab that second doughnut, this one unfortunately falls into the category of pregnancy myth. “When you’re eating for two, you’ve got to remember that your second one’s pretty tiny, at least to begin with. It doesn’t mean doubling what you’re eating,” says Dr Ross. 

Pregnant women are happy and glowing all of the time

Dr Ross says that while some pregnant women definitely ‘glow’ due to hormonal and metabolic changes in the body, it’s definitely not happening all of the time. “Anyone who has been pregnant would say that’s a myth – there are times when you’re worn out, there are times when you’re tired, there are times when you’re sick, there are times when your legs will be swollen or your back aches. You wouldn’t feel happy and glowing all the time.”
Happy pregnant woman
You can avoid stretch marks with good skin care

The idea that you have any great deal of control over whether or not you’ll get stretch marks is a myth used to sell beauty products. Dr Ross says, “You can’t do anything about the stretch marks. It’s really about the skin you’re born with, and you won’t know how it changes until you have your pregnancy. Some women get them, some don't, and that’s just the lottery.”

You shouldn't dye your hair

Dr Ross advises, “You can dye your hair. There are lots of questions about that but that is a complete myth. [Hair dye] does not go down through the roots and poison you or your baby at all.”

You shouldn’t drink coffee

According to Dr Ross, you can still enjoy your morning coffee. “There are questions around whether coffee increases your risk of miscarriage in the first trimester, but as long as you’re not having five or six cups a day, and you’re only having one or two, it shouldn’t be an issue.”

You can bring on labour by eating a hot curry or staring at the full moon

As you near the end of your pregnancy, you’ll be given many hints on how to get labour started. Some people will tell you to eat a hot curry and others will tell you the full moon will lure out your baby. While these are both myths, Dr Ross says there are some proven ways to get labour started. “Things that can bring on labour include exercise – going for a walk or sexual activity – so having intercourse with your partner is actually a good way to bring on labour.” Dr Ross adds that this only happens if the baby’s ready to come out anyway, so it shouldn’t turn you off sexual activity earlier in the pregnancy.

And rest assured, even if you do nothing in particular to get the party started, the baby will arrive soon enough. Just take the myths around pregnancy with a grain of salt as you wait for your baby to arrive.
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