Myths that Cause Pregnancy Paranoia


March Madness is here! For basketball fans, this is a time for lots of game watching excitement.  For an OB/GYN office, this is the time for lots of new expecting mothers!  Very excited and anxious mothers, with many questions pouring in about ‘what to do’ and ‘what not to do’ during pregnancy.

Pregnancy and paranoia come hand-in-hand due to the immense and overwhelming responsibility felt in taking proper care of the unborn child. It is difficult to sort through the mountainous of pregnancy information out there.  And lots of family, friends and even strangers are eager to weigh-in on their pregnancy ‘do’s and don’ts’.   The internet, while resourceful, also can be a pregnant woman’s worst enemy.  I spend lots of time, in the office, addressing and reassuring expecting mothers about ‘what they read’ on the internet. 

Five Myths About the Bump

So to help alleviate some paranoia let’s address the 5 most common prenatal myths.

1).  Stimulating the fetus with classical music, rhythmic literature or talking into a microphone attached to the pregnant belly, will make the baby smarter.

Save your money!  Piping music and sounds into the pregnant belly will not make your baby smarter.  Do not buy stomach headphones, Bellybuds, prenatal music belts or the Baby-Bump Sound System.   

In the first half of the pregnancy the the fetus’s brain is rapidly developing at an astonishing rate of 500,000 neuron cells a minute.  So they do not need any more stimulation. Leave them alone.  

Yes, the baby can hear!

In the second half of the pregnancy, over 20 weeks, the fetus does respond to outside stimulus such as sounds, touch and mother’s movement.  Research has found, newborns can recognize sounds heard when they were in the womb such as their mother’s voice or a song played frequently.  These familiar sounds can soothe the newborn when heard outside the womb, but there is no evidence that gestational auditory stimulation will enhance intelligence.     

2). Drinking red raspberry leaf tea during pregnancy will help with a quicker delivery but if you drink it early in the pregnancy it can cause preterm delivery.  There is not enough evidence to support the first claim and the second claim is a resounding no!

Only one very small study found shorter pushing times in pregnant women that drank the tea- that is not enough support.   Consequently, this has procreated a lot of ‘pregnancy tea’ concoctions that claim it will strengthen the uterus and pelvic muscles to facilitate an easier delivery.  

Most likely the tea is not going to help, but if feel the need to try it, make sure it is a well-known brand. Do not take a chance on a tea bought on the internet from an exotic location.

What Can Help With Labor? Being fit.

Fit mothers do have quicker deliveries.  Many studies have found, pregnant women who exercise regularly throughout the pregnancy, push for less time and are less likely to need an assisted delivery or caesarean.

So instead of buying expensive teas, invest in a good pair of tennis shoes.

3). Cocoa butter, aloe or coconut oil can help prevent stretch marks. False.  

Actually pregnant women can develop very sensitive skin.  Lotions, oils and creams can cause skin irritation and rashes.  

4). Pregnant women can not eat seafood, deli meat or hot dogs.

Yes you can have seafood.  Just be a little selective and avoid fish that eat other fish such as swordfish and mackerel because they are higher in mercury than other fish.  

Omega-3s Good for Baby’s Brain

Fish is a good source of Omega-3s to help with the baby’s brain development.  It is recommended to eat 12 oz of fish weekly that is low in mercury such as salmon, cod, and light tuna. (Albacore tuna has higher mercury, limit to 6 oz per week).  

Deli meats and hot dogs, you can have- but heat until steaming first.  This is incase the bacteria Listeria, which causes foodborne illness, is present. Listeria can cause complications such as miscarriage, preterm labor, stillborn and newborn infection.

Avoid raw or undercooked meat and only eat soft cheeses made with pasteurized milk.

5). You can only sleep on your left side when pregnant and never on your back or stomach.  Yes and no, you can sleep on your right side and stomach but it is uncertain about your back.  

It is advised by some OBs, after 20 weeks, to not sleep on your back. The idea is, the weight of the pregnant uterus can compress the main vein that returns blood flow to your heart, the vena cava, which may decrease the blood flow to the uterus.  There is not adequate evidence to support

blood flow is decrease to the baby with back sleeping or that it causes a problem in pregnancy.  So do not panic if you wake up on your back.  

In this month of basketball and baby madness remember RELAX. A stressed mom can lead to a stressed baby. Don’t let pregnancy paranoia get the best of you.

About adwettrick

I am a Family Nurse Practitioner that works in an OB/GYN practice at Community Hospital North in Indianapolis. I graduated with my undergraduate and master's degree at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis in 2005. I am married to my best friend, Don Wettrick, whom is one of the inspirations in my life along with my three beautiful children and of course my faith in God. I enjoy educating my patients on preventative health and how to balance their busy life and being healthy. Mind, body, spirit are all connected and if one is in trouble the others tend to suffer as well.
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