Writer / Alicia Wettrick
March Madness is here! For basketball fans, this is a time for lots of game watching and 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 mountains of pregnancy information out there. And lots of families, 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 a lot 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 five 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 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 that 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. Consequently, this has resulted in 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 you 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 cannot 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.
Omega-3s are good for the baby’s brain, and 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, so limit to 6 oz. per week).
Heat deli meats and hot dogs until steaming first. This is in case the bacteria Listeria, which causes food-borne illness, is present. Listeria can cause complications such as miscarriage, preterm labor, stillborn and newborn infection.
Avoid raw or undercooked meat, and for soft cheeses, only eat those 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 that the weight of the pregnant uterus can compress the main vein that returns blood flow to your heart which may decrease the blood flow to the uterus. There is not adequate evidence to support blood flow is reduced 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 to relax. A stressed mom can lead to a stressed baby. Don’t let pregnancy paranoia get the best of you.