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Health & wellness

Ultra Sound

Five pregnancy myths that many wish were true

Excerpted from the Ultra Sound Pregnancy blog on Boston.com.

Finding out you’re expecting can bring on a barrage of happy and horror stories from just about any woman you come into contact with — whether you know her or not.

The statements below are some of the most common myths held by women that we may wish were true. I asked Dr. Donnica Moore, an obstetrician and gynecologist and president of the women’s health firm Sapphire Women’s Group, for a reality check.

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Eating for two. If you can stomach it, you’ll want to eat all day, every day. Other women will encourage the popular phrase of “eating for two” to feed a growing baby, but the truth is that doubling food portions is unhealthy and can be uncomfortable.

According to Moore, no more than 500 extra calories a day is sufficient, even when nursing.

The most comfortable method may be to eat smaller meals more frequently to avoid indigestion, she said.

“As long as you’re taking your prenatal vitamin, we just want you to have a normal diet,” said Moore.

The “glow.” It’s true that being pregnant increases blood flow, and can bring on rosier cheeks. But it’s short lived, and often doesn’t apply from the neck down.

Some women are more prone to stretch marks than others and there’s not much we can do to prevent the changes that are coming, said Moore.

The best way to prevent certain skin changes such as stretch marks and spider veins is to walk and engage in other low-impact exercises that your physician clears, she said.

However, Moore said, there are no tried and true prevention methods that work for all women.

Accurately predicting baby’s gender. The notion of a mother’s intuition about knowing her baby’s gender are fun to listen to but don’t go much further than that. Just like that second chromosome, there’s a 50/50 chance any guess will be true.

“If you really want to predict, get an ultrasound,” said Moore.

No exercise. I naively envisioned being able to putting my feet up. Cancel that gym membership without guilt. No stretching. No reaching. Take the elevator instead of the stairs. Put yoga on hold. Perhaps my husband would wait on me hand and foot.

“Unless your doctor has told you otherwise, low-impact exercise is great up until the last day,” said Moore.

Pregnancy may even be an optimal time to introduce exercise because women are more likely to adopt healthier behaviors during their pregnancy, she said.

Many high-impact exercises are off-limits, but activities like walking, swimming, light weight lifting, even using an elliptical, can help women stay fit.

The sooner the baby gets out, the better. Baby has been cooking for a while now and, during times of weakness, a part of me thinks, “How much bigger will she get? I don’t think there’s any room left!’’

“There’s a good reason a baby is in there for nine months,” said Moore.

Toward the final few weeks before delivery, baby’s brain is still developing. She’s learning to breathe and swallow on her own. Her bones are hardening. Her major organs are learning to function.

“This, philosophically, is supposed to teach you patience,” said Moore.

Lara Salahi is a multimedia journalist whose specialty is reporting health
and medical stories. Read her blog on
Boston.com/UltraSoundPregnancy.

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