If you’re blessed with a healthy baby belly, you might have already noticed that people see it as an invitation to give you all the advice you never wanted (and in some cases—rub your belly without asking! ????). Even though it might be well-meaning, you’re still probably getting a ton of information that’s straight up wrong, silly, or even harmful. Here’s the TRUTH about some of the most frustrating myths about pregnancy.
This one is SO frustrating, because it couldn’t be further from the truth! Eating wild caught, fatty fish is the best way for pregnant women to get their omega-3 fatty acids—DHA and EPA—which are hard to find in other foods. I can’t emphasize enough how important omega-3 fatty acids are. They promote fetal brain and nervous system development, decrease the risk of postpartum depression, and even lower the risk of preeclampsia, low birth weight, and preterm birth.
While the mercury content of fish is a concern, you can mitigate the risk by making sure you’re eating smaller fish like wild caught salmon, Pacific sardines, herring, mackerel, halibut, sole, flounder, haddock, ocean perch, pollock, cod and trout. All of these are lower in mercury. Larger fish, like tuna and swordfish, are best to avoid because they tend to have a higher mercury content (eating lots of other fish means they absorb higher amounts of mercury). It’s best to eat small, wild caught, fatty fish about 2-3 times per week to get a healthy dose of omega-3s.
WHAT?! This one is SO wrong. First of all, the egg yolk is where all of the good stuff is—including CHOLINE which is mega-important in fetal development. It promotes nervous system, tooth, and brain development, and has even been shown to increase memory in kids. Egg yolks (but not whites) also contain vitamins A, D, E and K, omega-3 fats, and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. Compared to the whites, egg yolks also contain more beneficial folate and vitamin B12.
But when you heat eggs yolks until they’re hard, you damage all those amazing nutrients. The antioxidant properties of egg yolks are reduced by about 50 percent when eggs are fried or hard boiled. The concern about runny yolks comes from the possibility of salmonella, however, this is also a risk you can mitigate. First, buy the freshest organic, pasture-raised eggs you can find. You can also gently pasteurize your eggs by holding the egg in 140°F water for 4 minutes—this gets the egg hot enough to kill bacteria, but not hot enough to cook it. Adding acids like lemon juice or vinegar to raw eggs yolks will also kill the bacteria without cooking them. Egg yolks are so beneficial for you during pregnancy! It’s super important to find recipes you enjoy that don’t compromise all the health benefits of the runny/raw yolk.
While you should definitely eat in a way that makes you feel nourished, mamas who eat for two often consume wayyy more calories than they actually need, gain more weight than necessary, put strain on both mama and developing baby, AND end up giving birth to heavier babies. Research shows bigger babies are more likely to suffer from diabetes and obesity later in life. The average baby should weigh in at approximately 7.5 pounds—that’s a healthy weight.
Here’s the truth—mamas who begin pregnancy at a healthy weight should only consume about 300 extra calories. Those extra calories should be in the form of pregnancy superfoods, like the fish and egg yolks discussed above, as well as cod liver oil, coconut oil, and grass-fed butter. These superfoods aid in the development of your sweet babe, and provide you with enough energy to battle pregnancy exhaustion. An exception is women who are underweight pre-pregnancy. In this case, you may need to consume more calories than the extra 300 to ensure both you and baby are getting enough nutrients.
Though breastfeeding can work as a method of birth control, it isn’t foolproof and shouldn’t be your only plan for contraception if you don’t want to have another baby right away. Frequent and regular breastfeeding as a form of contraception is called lactational amenorrhoea method (LAM). LAM is about 98% effective, but will only work if your baby is younger than six months old, your periods have not returned, and you are exclusively breastfeeding your baby on demand (both night and day). Exclusive breastfeeding on demand usually means a minimum of six long breastfeeds every 24 hours.
If you want LAM to work, don’t leave a gap between feeds of longer than four hours during the day, or six hours at night. And either don’t give other fluids or solid food to your baby at all, or only give your baby other liquids occasionally. With LAM, your baby’s suckling stimulates the hormones that suppress ovulation. Your breasts should supply ALL your baby’s suckling needs, so you shouldn’t use a soother or bottle.
Here’s the bottom line: if your menstrual periods have returned, you can assume that breastfeeding is no longer a reliable method of birth control. However, keep in mind that while breastfeeding delays the return of your period, you’ll still ovulate before you have that first period—and if you don’t have a backup method (like a condom) you can absolutely get pregnant.
Are there other tidbits of advice you’ve heard about pregnancy that you’re curious about? Want more help understanding the best way to eat while you’re pregnant? Let’s chat! Schedule a consultation with me here.