Dispelling common myths about pregnancy

Enjoy this post from Erin Norton, director of community outreach, Parkview Women’s & Children’s Hospital.

For new and expecting parents, the opinions they hear and the advice they receive can be overwhelming and often conflicting. It can be difficult to separate fact from fiction. Popular culture also perpetuates stereotypes that can undermine parents’ confidence and Internet searches and well-meaning neighbors don’t always provide accurate information. Here, we’ve supplied a list of pregnancy myths and facts to set the record straight. 

Myth: It's not a big deal to skip prenatal appointments.

Early and regular prenatal care is one of the most essential things a woman can do to ensure she has a healthy pregnancy. If there are any complications, it is important that they are detected and treated as soon as possible. Changes such as a rise in blood pressure may not be felt by the woman, but can have serious consequences. 

Myth: It is obnoxious to call the doctor after office hours.

If there is a serious problem, your care provider wants to know. Please call. A system is in place to ensure that your needs are met. Talk to your care team about how to contact them after hours. However, if you’re asking a routine question such as getting a prescription refill, you’ll be better served by calling during regular office hours. 

Myth: I’ll look silly if I go to the hospital thinking I’m in labor, but then get sent home.

It is certainly better to come in and be sent home than wait too long and deliver a baby in the backseat of a car on the way to the hospital. Talk to your provider about the signs and symptoms of labor. If you’re unsure if you may be in labor, do not hesitate to call your care team and ask.

Myth: It is okay to smoke marijuana when pregnant.

Despite being legal in some states, marijuana is not recommended during pregnancy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, marijuana can result in low birth weight, affect the baby’s development and may contribute to behavioral problems. After delivery, maternal use of marijuana may affect a mother’s ability to properly care for her infant.

Myth: If something goes wrong with a pregnancy, it is probably the woman’s fault.

Unfortunately, pregnancy problems may occur even when the mother is doing everything “right.” Pregnancy can be a tumultuous time and women sometimes find themselves in tough situations. For example, consider having to choose between staying on strict bedrest or making sure a toddler is fed and bathed safely. Pregnant women need support, not blame.

Myth: Babies should sleep on their tummies so they don’t choke.

Babies sleep safest on their backs. Although it seems counterintuitive, a baby is less likely to choke if she is on her back. The baby’s anatomy actually makes it more likely for any spit up to go back down to the stomach if she’s on her back.  

Myth: Dads don’t matter.

Conversations about growing families often center on bumps and babies, while dads tend to get left out.  This is unfortunate because a growing body of research shows that actively engaged fathers improve birth outcomes. Aside from providing financial and social support, fathers can help ease mothers’ stress and can help promote healthy behaviors during pregnancy. Mothers tend to be cast as nurturers, but men can bond with their babies just as easily as women by doing things like skin-to-skin contact, for example.

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