Myth busting

There are so many myths floating around about pregnancy.  Let us bust some of them for you. 

Food FAQs

Now that I am pregnant can I eat for two?

No—this is one of the biggest myths we hear in pregnancy. Your body becomes so efficient in pregnancy that you only need a small number of extra kilojoules or calories in the second and third trimesters. Therefore, you definitely do not need to eat for two. What does this look like in ‘real food’? An extra serve from the meat and alternatives group (for extra iron and protein) and two to three serves from the breads/cereals/grains group (for folic acid, iodine, and fibre). It is important to gain pregnancy weight in the range recommended to optimise the health of you and your baby. If you eat for two you will gain more than the recommended amount of weight.

Do I need to avoid peanuts during pregnancy to stop my child being allergic to them?

Excluding particular foods (such as foods considered to be highly allergenic) from your diet during pregnancy or breastfeeding is not recommended, as this has not been shown to prevent allergies. 

 

Does it really matter how much weight I put on in pregnancy? Surely I’ll just lose it after pregnancy?

We now know that the “eating for two” concept and putting on large amounts of weight is not good for you and your baby’s health. Large amounts of weight in pregnancy can increase the risk of a caesarean section, gestational diabetes and other pregnancy difficulties. A large amount of weight gained can also increase the likelihood of you and your baby being overweight in the future. It is difficult to drop the extra weight after birth. Women often get heavier during each pregnancy.

Check out how much weight is good for you to gain in pregnancy at our weight page.

Should pregnant women stop eating fish?

Fish is a great food to have as part of a healthy diet. Fish is low in saturated fat, high in protein and contains high quantities of healthy fats including omega 3 fatty acids. People may worry because some fish contain high levels of mercury that can harm your baby’s nervous system if eaten in large quantities.  

The key is to limit the fish potentially high in mercury such as flake/shark, marlin, swordfish and orange roughy/deep sea perch. Eat the fish that is low in mercury such as canned tuna and salmon and other fish not listed above two to three times per week.

Do I need to eat large amounts of dairy foods to get enough calcium for my baby’s bone growth?

We have learned that a woman’s body becomes much more efficient at absorbing calcium during pregnancy. Therefore, the new Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend the same servings of dairy foods for pregnant women and non-pregnant women. Eat two to three serves of low fat dairy foods or calcium fortified soy and cereal milks daily.

How much extra food do I need in pregnancy?

The extra energy (kilojoules) required to support your growing baby is small and changes depending on your stage of pregnancy. This surprises many women.

In your second trimester the extra energy you need increases by about 1,400 kilojoules (kJ) per day.  This is equal to an extra serving of baked beans and toast, two extra hardboiled eggs and toast or a couple of extra pieces of fruit and some low fat yoghurt each day. 

In your third trimester your energy needs go up a small amount again, to an extra 1,900kJ per day. The increase from the second trimester is equal to half a cup of cooked pasta, a cup of low fat milk or 100 grams of tinned tuna.

I love my morning coffee—can I still drink it?

Many women love their morning coffee or afternoon pick me up. Foods Standards Australia and New Zealand say that you can safely have 200 mg of caffeine each day. This is equal to one regular espresso or latte, two instant coffees, or three cups of tea. So tailor how many caffeinated drinks you have each day depending on what type you are having.

Should I drink alcohol during my pregnancy?

Health professionals in Australia and the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that women AVOID alcohol during pregnancy. This is because there is no known safe level of alcohol to drink during pregnancy. Alcohol crosses the placenta and can lead to physical, growth and intellectual problems in some babies. 

Can I drink fruit juice rather than eat the fruit to get my two serves I need each day?

Unfortunately, no. Fruit juice has all the concentrated energy or calories of fruit without all the fibre.  One glass of juice has the calorie kick of roughly four oranges. If you have fruit juice (100%) stick to ½ cup a day. Many fruit juice drinks have a lot of added sugar and are more similar to cordials. Large amounts of fruit juice can lead to unwanted calories or energy and weight gain.

Should I take a pregnancy vitamin tablet during pregnancy?

There are two essential nutrients you need to take during pregnancy from a supplement or tablet. It is recommended that you take an extra 400 micrograms per day of folic acid (folate) from before pregnancy to three months after you become pregnant. The second one is iodine, with the guidelines advising all pregnant women to take a supplement that contains 150 micrograms of iodine. The best way to get these is from a supplement or tablet. This can be taken as part of a multivitamin or in a tablet that only contains those nutrients. Check with your doctor, midwife or pharmacist about the best supplements for you.

Be careful not to overdose on vitamins. More is not always better. Megadoses of vitamins and minerals can be harmful to your baby. For example, Vitamin A can be toxic to your baby in large quantities. Generally, pregnancy mulitivitamins will not contain Vitamin A.

Vitamins and minerals are important, but it is more important to think about your food and meal options to get all the nutrients you need. Check out the serves of food you need and practical meal plans to see how it all fits together.

Where can I find some good recipes for healthy meals?

There are some good websites with a variety of tasty recipes. Try them out!

I find I am hungry through the day. What are good snacks?

It is good to eat regular small meals and snacks during pregnancy. Pack some snacks to take out with you. 

  • 1 medium piece of fresh fruit (e.g. apple, peach, pear, banana)
  • 2 small pieces of fresh fruit (e.g. kiwifruit, small peaches, plums)
  • 1 cup of fresh fruit salad, grapes or berries
  • 3 or 4 wedges of watermelon
  • 8 dried apricot halves
  • 6 macadamia nuts or 8 pecan halves 
  • 1 rounded tablespoon of almonds, cashews, hazelnuts or mixed nuts (unsalted)
  • 200g tub low fat yoghurt
  • 2 crispbreads with tomato and pepper (make sure the crispbreads have more than 2 to 3g fibre per serve)
  • 1 slice of fruit toast
  • 1 glass of low fat milk with 1 to 2 teaspoons of Milo

Can I go on a diet to lose weight in pregnancy?

No, this is not recommended. Dieting during pregnancy could cause harm to both you and your growing baby. Purposefully losing weight in pregnancy is not recommended. Your stomach is supposed to get bigger and is a great sign that you are growing a healthy baby. Some diets and weight loss could leave you low in some of the important nutrients such as folate, iodine, iron and calcium and the energy you need to grow your healthy baby.  

The amount of weight recommended to gain in pregnancy will be discussed with you and is based on your weight before pregnancy in relation to your height. Please talk to your doctor or midwife if you are concerned about your weight.

I am tracking my weight on the pregnancy weight tracker but am gaining more weight than is suggested. What should I do?

Women gain weight at different rates, but if you are consistently gaining weight above the tracking range you will need to make some changes. Too much weight when you are pregnant can increase your blood pressure and risk of gestational diabetes. 

To help control your weight gain, limit foods that are high in fat and added sugar. Make sure you aren’t “eating for two.” It is also important to include regular exercise most days.

Here are some other tips:

  • Choose fruit over biscuits, cakes, chips, chocolate and lollies
  • Chose low fat milk, yoghurt, and cheese in place of full fat products 
  • Trim all the fat off your meat before cooking and remove the skin from chicken
  • Limit high fat takeaway foods (or opt for things like veggie-filled Asian stir fries)
  • Drink water (not soft drink or cordial) and limit fruit juice to one serve per day
  • Limit desserts and puddings 
  • Cut back snacking 
  • Increase physical activity.

If I have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, can I still follow the recommendations on txt4two?

Most women have an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) around 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy to see if you have developed gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). This is a condition where your pregnancy hormones are making it hard for your body to process glucose (sugar) in your blood.  If you are found to have GDM you will be linked in with the specialised services with the dietitian, diabetes educator and specialist doctors. The food and exercise changes recommended are very similar as that recommended in txt4two. You can still continue with the txt4two program.

 

Watch this video for some more weight tracking ideas. 

Exercise FAQs

Is it safe to swim in a chlorinated pool when I am pregnant?

There are no known adverse effects of swimming in a chlorinated pool. Water exercise can be very beneficial during pregnancy because it is low impact and supports your joints and body weight by reducing the effect of gravity on your body. It also allows you to be active with pregnancy related back or pelvic pain. Remember to take care of your skin, remain well hydrated and take care not to overheat. 

Is it safe to lift weights at the gym in pregnancy?

Lifting light to moderate weights during pregnancy is safe if you have trained with weights before and have good posture and technique. Looking after a newborn baby requires repetitive squatting, lifting and carrying your baby. Strong muscles will help you body cope with these tasks. If you have not used weights before, a theraband or body weight exercise strengthening program may be appropriate for you. Check with your Physiotherapist if you're starting a new strengthening program. 

Is it normal to leak urine when I exercise during pregnancy?

Incontinence of urine when you cough, sneeze or exercise is a common problem in pregnancy; however, it is not normal. Leaking urine could indicate that you have weak pelvic floor muscles or that you are not co-ordinating them correctly during these activities. Learn more about pelvic floor exercises here. Women’s Health Physiotherapists specialise in pelvic floor muscles and can help you with this problem. Incontinence should not stop you from exercising, your Physiotherapist can help you modify your exercise program to avoid and improve these symptoms.  

I have always been a runner. Can I continue to run during my pregnancy?

If you have been running regularly prior to pregnancy and your pregnancy is healthy you can continue to run. There is no specific time of when you will need to stop running but be aware that you will be able to do a little less each trimester.

Take care not to overheat, ensure good fluid intake and don’t try to break any performance records with prolonged and strenuous running. You will need a well-fitting sports bra to support your growing breasts and supportive running shoes. Stop if you have any abdominal, back or pelvic discomfort or incontinence with exercise, and look after your pelvic floor.

Is every exercise is safe to do during pregnancy?

Some sports are not recommended in pregnancy due to changes in the body during pregnancy, including loss of balance and potential harm to the baby through falling, contact with players or equipment. These sports include scuba diving, horseback riding, downhill skiing, contact sports, gymnastics and road cycling.  

Exercises that you do when lying on your back are also not recommended after the first trimester. Lying on your back may position the uterus (and baby!) on major blood vessels. This can reduce blood flow to the baby and to yourself, causing dizziness. 

Why are sit ups not recommended during pregnancy?

Sit ups are generally not recommended in pregnancy but there are plenty of other safe abdominal exercises that you can do.

Sit ups may contribute to widening of the Linea Alba (or abdominal muscle separation) that naturally occurs during pregnancy. They are also not recommended because they are done lying on your back (see above). There is also some concern about the pressure the sit up action places on your pelvic floor muscles during this exercise. 

I never exercised before pregnancy but want to start now. What exercise should I do?

Exercise can do wonders for you and your baby’s health. If you have never exercised before now it is good to start off slowly. A daily walk or swim is a great place to start, even walking around the block can make a difference. Start with 10 minutes per day at the beginning. Increase to 10 minutes twice per day then up to a total of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day.  

My family has told me not to exercise when I am pregnant—should I just rest?

In the old days, doctors advised pregnant women to rest during pregnancy. But these days research shows us that staying active during pregnancy helps you feel fitter, manage your stress, and even prevent pregnancy complications like varicose veins and gestational diabetes. It also helps you maintain a healthy pregnancy weight, cope with labour and get back in shape after birth. Even if you haven't been following a regular exercise routine, you can start a walking program during pregnancy.  Just make sure to check in with your doctor or midwife first.

 

Is it safe to do abdominal work during pregnancy?

Not only is it safe, exercising your abdominal muscles during pregnancy can help your back and posture and allow you to be stronger for pregnancy, labour and after the birth.  

Sit-ups are NOT appropriate during pregnancy because your abdominal muscles work differently in pregnancy and it is not recommended to lie on your back to exercise. The best abdominal exercises can be found here.

What is the best way to set a goal that I can achieve?

Thinking about what you want to change and how to do it is a great way to make positive changes in all aspects of your life. If you set a goal for something you are more likely to do it.

The best type of goal is a SMART goal.
 

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For urgent assessment at any stage of your pregnancy, please present to your nearest emergency centre or Mater Mothers’ 24/7 Pregnancy Assessment Centre in South Brisbane.

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