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Pregnancy myths busted

Pregnancy myths busted

Can I dye my hair while pregnant? Is it OK to run a marathon? Discover which pregnancy myths are true and which you can ignore

Think you're down with the many different rules of pregnancy? Do you know which foods to avoid and what sort of exercise is best for baby? Read on to discover a few exceptions that may surprise you...

Myth 1: You can eat for two
It's an age-old belief that being pregnant, and caring for another human being, means you get to eat the same amount of food as two people. 'Sadly, this simply isn't the case,' says Dr Sarah Brewer, author of Nutrition: A Beginner's Guide. 'You don't need to eat any more calories than you did before you got pregnant for the first two trimesters. That means around 2,000 calories a day. In the final trimester, you need an extra 200 calories.'

What do 200 calories looks like? Think a small bowl of porridge with some fresh fruit, a small ham and cheese salad roll, a small pot of natural yogurt and half a handful (10g) of almonds or a slice of wholemeal toast and peanut butter.

Myth 2: You can't run during pregnancy
Pregnancy is no excuse to put your feet up for nine months! Staying fit during your pregnancy can help you get through the marathon that is labour, but many women worry about doing exercise, particularly running, during pregnancy.

'If you already did exercise before you got pregnant, including running, you can continue to do so during your pregnancy,' says Dr Brewer. 'You may need to adjust your speed and switch to fast walking as your bump gets bigger, but you certainly shouldn't stop altogether.' If you haven't done much exercise before, start slow with swimming or pregnancy yoga.

Myth 3: Blue cheese when pregnant is off the menu
As you have probably heard, soft mould-ripened cheese such as brie and camembert, and soft blue-veined cheese such as roquefort and gorgonzola, aren't safe to eat during pregnancy. They may contain a bacteria called listeria, which can be harmful to your baby.

'But hard blue cheese such as Stilton is safe because it has a lower moisture content, meaning it's less likely to harbour listeria,' says Dr Brewer. 'And you can eat soft cheeses if they're thoroughly cooked - on a pizza, for example - because the heat will kill the bacteria.'

Myth 4: You can't use hair dye in pregnancy
Some women worry about hair colouring when pregnant, in case the chemicals in the dye could be dangerous to their baby. In reality, they'd have to be exposed to massive quantities of it for there to be any risk.

'You should still follow all the usual rules when dyeing your hair, including carrying out a patch test, wearing gloves and not leaving the dye on for longer than needed,' says Dr Brewer. 'If you're still worried, you can use semipermanent vegetable-based dyes such as henna.'

Although the research on colouring hair when pregnant is limited, it mostly shows that it's safe to keep up with your fave shades of blonde or red. Some mums, however, decide to wait until the second trimester to touch up their roots, or switch to highlights to minimise contact between the dye and their skin.

Myth 5: Morning sickness ends in the second trimester
Morning sickness is a tricky beast! Despite its name, it can strike at any time.

'It is thought that morning sickness, which can cause general nausea right through to constant vomiting, is caused by the different hormones in your body during pregnancy,' says Dr Brewer. 'Around 80% of women will get nausea in the first trimester, but it can continue throughout pregnancy, with one in 10 women still feeling ill by week 20.'

Feeling terrible? Make sure you sip plenty of fluids throughout the day, eat small meals, and try drinking ginger or peppermint tea to settle your stomach.

If you're worried you might be suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), the extreme morning sickness Kate Middleton experienced, seek medical advice immediately.

Myth 6: Pregnancy brain
If you've walked out of the door wearing mismatched shoes, lost your keys for the third time this week or forgotten where you parked your car, you may be tempted to blame it on 'pregnancy brain' - the fuzzy-headed absent-mindedness that you get when you're expecting.

However, a 2015 study from Brigham Young University has debunked the idea of forgetfulness in pregnancy. Researchers tested the memory skills of 21 expectant mums and compared them with women who were not pregnant and had no children. They found that the two different groups had no significant differences in cognitive abilities.

Researchers did admit that increased stress and tiredness during this time could make women feel they had worse memory abilities than before they got pregnant, even when they didn't.

Make sure you take time out for yourself, especially in your final trimester, to reduce stress and boost your energy levels.

By Hannah Fox

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