After getting pregnant, you’re left with a giant list of dos and don’ts from your mom, your friends, your great aunt, Google — you name it. But how much of what you’re being told is actually true? There’s the Great Cheese Debate, trying to decide whether your cat needs a new home, and even figuring out whether or not you need to cancel your hair coloring appointment. Not to fret: we’re addressing the rumors once and for all.
1. No, mothers aren’t eating for two.
Sorry to break it to you, but pregnancy as an excuse to eat two desserts is no longer valid (but still totally justified). According to Aren Gottlieb, M.D., obstetrician and gynecologist at Maternal Fetal Medicine Associates in New York City, those extra calories will do more harm than good.
“Mothers definitely need to eat well and make sure they’re getting all the nutrients they need, but if they were to eat for two, they would be gaining way too much weight, which can be cumbersome on their physical body and also cause complications,” Dr. Gottlieb says. “It could put them at an increased risk of gestational diabetes and cause difficulties with delivery.”
2. You don’t need to cut cheese out of your diet.
The cheese gods have spoken — and they’ve granted you with the most wonderful gift of all: the ability to eat as much cheese as your expecting heart desires. (Okay, not too much cheese. But still.)
“You can eat cheese, but make sure it’s pasteurized. Sometimes you’ll read you can’t have soft cheese, but most of the cheese sold in the United States is all pasteurized — even the soft farmer’s cheeses, fetas, or Bries,” Gottlieb says. “If it’s not pasteurized, the risk is infection.”
3. You can eat seafood — but not all of it.
If you want to keep seafood in your diet, don’t let being pregnant stop you. But if the majority of your seafood intake comes from mercury-rich sources, that’s when you should watch out.
“Seafood is fine, but the concern is more with the large fish like tuna and king mackerels — they have a lot of mercury in them,” Gottlieb says. “Too much mercury has been linked to poor brain development, so we limit it in adults who are pregnant, and also in young kids.”
4. Feel free to color — and bleach! — your hair.
A lot of mothers are afraid to dye their hair while pregnant, but Gottlieb says not to worry: There’s nothing wrong with keeping up with your hair appointments.
“If you’re nauseous in the first trimester, it’s not great to be at a salon with all those fumes because that might make your nausea increase. But your hair follicles are already dead, so you’re dying something that’s not living — it’s only at the tip that’s alive. So it’s fine to dye your hair, and most of products used are non-toxic anyway,” she says.
5. Drink coffee, but keep it to a cup.
Good news! If you can’t make it through your morning without a cup of coffee, being pregnant doesn’t mean you need to stop drinking it altogether. “You want to limit your caffeine intake to about one cup of day, and I would say not your Starbucks Venti cup; just a regular cup of coffee,” Gottlieb says. “Too much caffeine has been linked to early miscarriages; it’s not a great study, but there have been some complications. Caffeine has also been linked to small babies, but both scenarios are from a major excess of caffeine.”
6. You can get your varicose veins treated, but there’s a catch.
When it comes to treating varicose veins, Gottlieb says there’s no harm in doing so before you’re done having kids. But if you want to save money, you might want to wait.
“They can get them treated, but they’re going to have more pop up. If they’re okay with the fact that they’re going to get pregnant again and have more varicose veins, they just have to be aware that they’re going to have to get them treated again,” Gottlieb says.