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Exploring Myths About Pregnancy

As OBGYNs you can bet that we hear some interesting things about pregnancy and childbirth.

Many patients ask if we can tell the sex of the baby by the way the are showing or whether or not craving pickles means that their baby will like pickles too. Some of these can be pretty sweet and endearing, but not all wives tales are myths.

“I have a lot of heartburn. The baby must have a lot of hair!”

Heartburn is a very common condition in pregnancy. Many women are under the impression that if they have severe heartburn that their baby will have a full head of hair!

There was a small study conducted out of Johns Hopkins University in 2006 that demonstrated a potential link between how severe one’s heartburn is and the amount of hair of their newborn baby. Researchers are not clear on why this may happen, but for the meantime if you feel like you are having to pop those antacids every few hours, you just may have a sweet newborn with a head full of hair! [Read the NCBI study.]


“I am a caffeine-fiend! How will I be able to give up my latte?”

Caffeine is the most commonly used stimulant world-wide! Typically thought of as being in coffee or espresso beverages, it can be found in tea, soda, and some foods, including chocolate.

During pregnancy, we do know that caffeine crosses the placenta. It can influence the heart rate of babies, their periods of wakefulness and activity. Consuming a typical level of caffeine daily does not appear to be linked to abnormal effects such as miscarriage, birth defects or preterm delivery.

Because study data is limited in this area, we recommend a daily intake of caffeine of no more than 200-300 milligrams.

Because products can vary, make sure to check the label when making your purchases. Most standard cups of coffee are less than this, however espresso drinks may have more. De-caffeinated and half-caf options are available in many places.

“I am craving a lot of sweet things this pregnancy. I was told it will be a girl!”

Pregnancy hormones may cause you to crave certain foods that you otherwise would not when pregnant.

There is science to support that your taste and sense of smell are altered during this time.

Women report that certain smells are more pungent or even turn their stomach. This is common in the first trimester, but it can also continue beyond.

Often times when a women is lacking in certain minerals, such as iron or calcium for example, the body will urge you to eat certain foods. Many times our cravings are emotionally based. Food urges, however, have not been linked to correctly identifying the sex of the baby.

To identify the gender of your baby, you should undergo an ultrasound or other prenatal testing (blood work). We can usually do this in the late first or early second trimester.

“I can’t go 9 months without coloring my hair!”

Most women have heard at some point that they should not get their hair dyed, permed, or bleached while pregnant. There is not a lot of data to support this, and thankfully many chemicals used in salons are safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Some experts recommend waiting until after the first trimester if possible.

If you have concerns about the products used, speak with your hairstylist. There are also vegetable based dyes that are more natural that could be an option.

Now that I am pregnant, I get to eat for two!”

Unfortunately this is not the case.

Most women of a normal BMI (or body mass index) should consume a diet that is full of healthy proteins, vegetables, and fruits.

25 to 35 pounds is the average recommended weight gain for an entire pregnancy.

This may change depending on your starting weight or the needs of your pregnancy.

The recommendation by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology is that you only need an additional 300 calories a day to support a growing pregnancy. The equivalent of that is about one apple and a small container of yogurt. is an excellent website about nutrition in pregnancy that reviews your needs during this special time.



“I read that I have to get rid of my cat since I’m pregnant.”

Thankfully you won’t have to pawn your cat off on a friend or relative while pregnant.

The thing we worry about most is contracting Toxoplasmosis in pregnancy, which is a parasite that can be harmful to babies. Petting or feeding your cat likely won’t cause any issue,

but we do recommend that you not change the litter box (hooray!).

Toxoplasmosis is present in cat feces. If you have to change litter, be sure to do it often, wear gloves and wash your hands thoroughly after doing so to help decrease the chance of infection. Best scenario is to leave that to someone else for the duration of your pregnancy.

“I was told that I should walk, take castor oil, get acupuncture, etc. to help induce labor.”

Women have tried many things over thousands of years to bring on labor. Multiple studies have evaluated these techniques including: exercise, intercourse, acupuncture, raspberry leaf tea, castor oil, and nipple stimulation to name a few.

Most studies fall short of proving any decrease in time to active labor.

While we know you are anxious to have your baby and avoid labor induction, the most important thing is to stay hydrated, comfortable and monitor your baby’s well-being. Talking with your doctor or midwife about the induction of labor can help alleviate fears or misconceptions about the process.

“I like to run and hate that I have to give it up during my pregnancy.”

The good news is that most women will be able to continue to run while pregnant.

Unless you have specific conditions that may make running unsafe, you can feel free to do your normal routine. Your doctor should notify you if you have any conditions that make running unsafe (such as threatened preterm labor).

Most women will need to modify their running routine due to discomfort. You may not be able to run as far or as fast.

The key is to listen to your body and modify as needed. Prenatal yoga, walking, dancing, and many other activities are all very safe and encouraged. Exercise is not only good for you, but for your growing baby as well! If there is a particular exercise you like to do, speak with your provider to make sure you are safe to continue it during your pregnancy.

About Chantel Roedner, MD

Dr. Chantel Roedner joined WakeMed Physician Practices as an OB/GYN after completing her residency at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earning her Medical Degree at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. Her clinical interests include high risk obstetrics, infertility, minimally invasive gynecological surgery including robotic surgery, well woman care and contraception.

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