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First Trimester Pregnancy Myths

Debunking the Myths, Misconceptions, and Misinformation About First Trimester Pregnancy:

First Trimester Pregnancy Myths
Debunking the Myths, Misconceptions, and Misinformation About First Trimester Pregnancy:

  • If you have bad morning sickness, it's a girl; mild or none means it's a boy. There is no way to tell in the first trimester whether you are having a boy or a girl except using an invasive prenatal diagnostic test called chorionic villus sampling (CVS) . During the second trimester, it is possible to tell a baby's gender using an amniocentesis or ultrasound.


  • You are eating for two. While your appetite may increase significantly during early pregnancy, your actual caloric needs are only slightly increased during this trimester. Be sensible about your food intake. When you are pregnant, you need to eat more to help the growth and development of your baby, as well as for the changes in your own body that promote a healthy pregnancy. In the first trimester, some women have issues with nausea that actually cause them to eat less. But during the last 6 months of pregnancy, you need to eat or drink about 100 more calories per day than you did before you were pregnant. How much weight you should gain during pregnancy depends on your weight before pregnancy. In general, a healthy gain for most women is between 25 and 35 pounds. However: overweight women should gain less, and underweight women should gain more.


  • You can't take any medications at all. It seems that some women don't heed advice about stopping harmful substances in pregnancy at all (can you believe that nearly 15% of pregnant women continue to drink alcohol and 10% of pregnant women continue to smoke?), whereas other women will suffer great discomfort from conditions as diverse as pain, allergies, yeast infections, etc. to avoid taking any medications at all. There are many medications-over-the-counter and prescriptions-known to be safe in pregnancy; as with any medication issues, when in doubt, ask your clinician or pharmacist. Many vaccines-including the injectable H1N1 flu and the seasonal flu vaccines-are also safe in pregnancy. A common OTC medicine to avoid, however, is anything containing aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines unless your doctor has prescribed them. For headache, stick to acetaminophen or Tylenol.


  • If you are exposed to x-rays while pregnant, you will have a miscarriage or your baby will have horrible birth defects. Radiation exposure is not good for pregnant women or their fetuses, but if a fetus is accidentally exposed to a small amount of radiation (from a chest x-ray for example), it is extremely unlikely that any damage will result. Any time a woman suspects she is pregnant, however, she should inform any health care provider involved in administering any kind of x-ray or other radiation-related test or treatment.


  • Miscarriages are caused by _________________. This is a fill-in-the-blank myth. Old wives tales abound about miscarriages being caused by everything from stress, to sex, to excessive exercise, to bad karma, and even misalignment of the astrological signs or "it wasn't meant to be". The fact is that first trimester miscarriages are very common: some estimates are as high as one out of every 9 pregnancies ending in miscarriage. In most of these situations, the cause is unknown (most likely a suspected genetic abnormality) and there is nothing that could be done to prevent it or to stop it once the process is set in motion. This is very different than with second trimester miscarriages or with third trimester preterm labor or fetal death. Many women who have had first trimester miscarriages suffer from extended guilt that there may have been something they did to bring on the miscarriage or that they didn't do something proactively enough to prevent it.


  • Avoid exercise during pregnancy. There are many variations of exercise myths surrounding pregnancy including not to get your heart rate above a certain number of beats per minute, not to work your abdominal muscles, to avoid exercises with moderate to high impact, etc. There is no basis to make such generalizations for all pregnant women. It is true that your general fitness and exercise routine before pregnancy will have a major impact on what you can do during pregnancy. It is also true that any risk factors you have influence your doctor's recommendations. But overall, getting daily physical exercise has been shown to have a positive impact on maternal health and healthy pregnancy outcomes. . .as well as a quicker return to pre-pregnancy weight. Just don't overdo it!

Click here for more information on pregnancy.


Created: 10/16/2000  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.
Reviewed: 10/29/2009  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.


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