It is often observed that upon becoming pregnant, women radiate a certain glow. Well, that extra shine may actually be a sign of stress-induced perspiration that moms-to-be suffer after getting bombarded with a litany of pregnancy do’s and don’ts. For example, do eat only the best foods and exclusively breastfeed for the first six months, but don’t have sex or drink alcohol or coffee.
Circulated as old wives tales, is there any scientific veracity to these claims? In an article for the Los Angeles Times, reporter Kendall Powell tackles some of the most well-known pregnancy myths and relies on well-documented studies to determine which ones are facts and which ones don’t cut the scientific mustard. For instance, we hate to break it to you, but in a meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials testing morning-sickness treatments, researchers found there is no effective remedy for this unpleasant ailment, so you might as well put away the ginger and vitamin B6 and cancel your anti-morning-sickness acupuncture appointment.
As for the safety of having sex during pregnancy, a review from the Canadian Medical Association Journal says there’s nothing wrong with the practice for healthy women, but those with placenta previa or who are at risk for preterm labor should avoid it. Whether sex closer to the delivery date will actually induce birth, however, remains inconclusive in the literature but has biologic plausibility.
When it comes to imbibing alcohol during pregnancy, the article echoes what ACSH has said for a while now: light drinking (no more than two drinks once or twice weekly) has not been shown to be linked to adverse health effects in either the mom or her baby.
For women who underwent a Cesarean section during their first delivery and been warned against a vaginal birth for subsequent pregnancies, they can now rest assured that they face no significant increase in the risk of uterine rupture or other severe complications compared to women who have a repeat Cesarean. The term used among obstetricians and many mothers is VBAC — vaginal birth after Cesarean.
And finally, if a pregnant woman is ever told to forgo an epidural because it will make her infant more groggy or sluggish, and thus harder to successfully breastfeed after delivery, she can let this information go in one ear and out the other. Epidurals are arguably the safest and most effective form of pain relief during labor, and as a study published last year in the journal Anaesthesia points out, an epidural will not reduce a woman’s chance of successfully breastfeeding.
This article is really important, says ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, because “women are hypersensitive about anything they ingest or drink during pregnancy and are therefore more susceptible to myths and misinformation.”
So wipe that sweat off your brow pregnant ladies and make informed decisions based on science, not gossip.