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True Or False: 14 Pregnancy Myths Deconstructed

Me, 5 months pregnant with Violet.

Being pregnant causes a lot of anxiety. If you aren’t fretting over whether your baby is developing properly, then you’re worried about what you’re putting into your body– if you aren’t worried about that, you’re worried about what position your body is in. Did you accidentally roll on your back while sleeping? Oh my God! You’ve probably killed your baby! Had a little hot tub session before you knew you were pregnant? Oh my God! You’ve hard-boiled your fetus!

Pregnancy is a scary time. That’s why three OB/GYNs –tired of getting called at three in the morning by women freaked out about one thing or the other — decided to write a book: The Mommy Docs Ultimate Guide to Pregnancy and Birth.

TIME recently asked the women, Drs. Yvonne Bohn, Allison Hill and Alane Park, to deconstruct the most common myths about pregnancy, some of which are propagated in extremely popular and well-regarded pregnancy books. In fact, the list is so interesting I’m going to post almost exactly how it appeared in TIME, although I eliminated a few that were extremely obvious.

Click on to read fourteen popular pregnancy myths and whether they’re true or false. I’ll admit, I believed a couple of these were legit and I’ll bet you do too.

Myth #1: Cocoa butter prevents stretch marks: False. I knew that!  And I told you that!  The doctors say cocoa butter actually makes women’s skin more sensitive, and some women have allergic reactions to it. Dr. Park treated one woman who came in with bright pink circles on her breasts. She couldn’t figure out why, until the patient copped to using cocoa butter to try to keep her breasts perky. Wha?

Myth #2: You can’t fly during your first or last trimester: False again. I totally thought that was true!  Actually, you can fly whenever you want. Some airlines won’t let you on the plane in your last trimester, but that has more to do with fears that you’ll go into labor and force the plane to land or spoil the upholstery.

Myth #3: You can’t pet your cat during pregnancy. False. However, you shouldn’t change your cat’s litter box during pregnancy because of the risk of toxoplasmosis from the dookies. And also, because, dammit, you’re growing a human being, and do you have to everything?

Myth #4: You shouldn’t eat smoked salmon while pregnant. False. Salmon is good for mothers-to-be; it’s high in omega-3 fatty acids which studies show have a variety of benefits for pregnant women and their fetuses, and salmon is a fresh water fish, so the likelihood of mercury poisoning is low.

Myth #5: You can’t eat sushi. False. Sushi is permissible except for mackerel, shark, tilefish and swordfish. And don’t eat too much tuna — no more than 12. oz (about two maki, or rolls) per week.  I didn’t know that!  I avoided all sushi!  And here I could’ve been eating my favorite roll that is loaded with eel and avacado. Damn!

Myth #6: No hot dogs either? False. Hot dogs are also fine to eat, as long as they’re well-cooked.  I didn’t know this one either!  I thought hot dogs were a no-no.

Myth #7: Pregnant women should keep away from polished furniture. So false. Dr. Bohn once treated a woman who was nervous about sitting on her couch, because of the furniture polish fumes. Geez. What a miserable pregnancy she must’ve had.

Myth #8: Dying your hair is harmful for Baby. Wrong again. False. But I already told you that!

Myth #9: You shouldn’t take hot baths while pregnant. True, actually. You should avoid saunas, Jacuzzis or anything that raises your body temperature over 102 degrees.

Myth #10: You shouldn’t drink coffee while pregnant. False. Don’t go nuts, but a cup a day won’t hurt junior.

Myth #11: Pregnant women should always sleep on their left side. False. That’s going to be hard on the old left hip. Just get whatever sleep you can. The mommy docs also say the myth about expectant moms avoiding back-sleeping is just that; a myth.

Myth #12: Walking makes labor go faster. False. It might make you feel better but there’s no activity that’s going to bring on labor, sorry. Also false, as is the old cod liver-oil myth.)

Myth #13: Pregnant women should eat for two. Nope. False. Carrying a baby actually only requires 300 extra calories a day. So technically you should be eating for about one and a fifth. If you do eat for two, you’ll end up with a bigger baby, which reminds the mommy docs of another fable…

Myth #14: Drinking dark beer helps the milk come in. Agan, nada. False. It might help the mother relax, though, which does help with milk letdown (but it has nothing to do with the barley in the beer). Also, a beer is great for Mom’s mental well-being.  I thought this one was true too!

Fess up!  Which ones did you think were true?  Now that they’ve been debunked by at least three reputable OB-GYNs will you go ahead and eat sushi/give up the cocoa butter/sleep on your back?

11 More Pregnancy Myths Debunked: Drinking, epidurals, and more!

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