Breaking down myths and misconceptions around pregnancy

07 December 2022

Dr Pauline Jourbert Wesley News

During pregnancy women can often feel as though they are flooded with new information and sometimes it can be slightly contradicting.

Obstetrician Dr Pauline Joubert has nearly 25 years’ experience in the medical field and said it was important for women to stay up to date with correct information and health guidelines.

She has broken down some of the most common myths and misconceptions about what women can and can’t do during pregnancy.

1. Can I have coffee while pregnant?

It is recommended women avoid caffeine entirely during their pregnancy.

The World Health Organisation has identified women who drink over 300mg of caffeine in a day at serious risk.

A standard cup of coffee can contain between 95-200 mg of caffeine where as decaf coffee only contains 5 mg of caffeine.

It is also important to note that it takes longer for pregnant women to metabolise caffeine and an increased consumption of caffeine can increase blood pressure and heart rate.

2. Am I safe to drink alcohol while pregnant?

This is a definite no, the World Health Organisation has advised there is no safe level of alcohol to drink while pregnant. We encourage women who are trying to fall to cease drinking.

We know that alcohol can affect the fetus throughout pregnancy and we know that any amount can lead to multiple problems in the baby.

Clinical research demonstrates a linear relationship between the amount of alcohol ingested and the negative impact this can have on an unborn child.

Every drink raises risk of miscarriage by 6 per cent, mothers who consume more than five drinks per week can increase the risk of stillbirth by 70 per cent.

3. What about soft cheese? That should be fine?

Sadly, one in 8000 pregnancies are impacted by listeria monocytogenes which is a food borne illness most commonly found in unpasteurised or raw milk, pate, dips, soft cheese, chilled pre-cooked seafood, pre-cooked or deli meat and pre-prepared salads.

To keep safe, it’s important to practice good hygiene around food, including washing hands, keeping cutting boards and utensils clean, separating uncooked food and washing food thoroughly.

The good news is however that women can still enjoy many of these foods so long as they are cooked properly, for example soft cheese is safe to eat if it has been completely cooked in an oven.

4. I have other children; do I need to be careful around them?

Pregnant women who have other small children should be wary of Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection. Once infected, your body retains the virus for life. Most people don't know they have CMV because it rarely causes problems in healthy people.

Women who develop an active CMV infection during pregnancy can pass the virus to their babies, who might then experience symptoms.

CMV spreads from person to person through body fluids, you can protect yourself by cleaning surfaces, disposing of dirty tissues, cleaning toys, don’t share utensils and avoid kissing your child on the mouth.

5. Is it safe to be around my cat during pregnancy?

Cats can carry a parasite called toxoplasmosis gondii, it is recommended to minimize contact with cats and kittens during pregnancy. If possible avoid changing litter boxes or wear gloves and protective clothing while doing so.

6. What are the risks of COVID-19 to pregnant women?

Pregnant women who contract COVID-19 can experience a more severe illness, they are more likely to be hospitalised and can take longer to recover from COVID-19.

Fortunately, there is evidence to suggest that COVID-19 does not tend to impact the unborn child.

It is important to keep yourself safe during pregnancy, stay up to date with your vaccinations, wear a mask or avoid crowded places where possible and don’t purposely expose yourself to people with confirmed infections.

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