Frances Largeman-Roth, the author of "Feed the Belly: The Pregnant Mom's Healthy Eating Guide" appeared on "The Early Show" Monday to help clear up a few pregnancy mysteries:
MYTH OR TRUTH: Heartburn means a hairy baby.
It's one of the oldest wives tales in the book: if you have bad heartburn during pregnancy, you can look forward to a baby with a full head of hair. Nonsense, right? Well, a study done at Johns Hopkins, published in the journal Birth, found that there is a correlation between severity of heartburn and the hairiness of a newborn.
Heartburn usually strikes in the third trimester and is due to estrogen causing the esophageal sphincter to relax, which allows stomach acid to splash up into the esophagus. Estrogen appears to be responsible for hair growth in the developing baby.
MYTH OR TRUTH: You have to eat for two.
You only need an extra 300 calories during pregnancy, and that's only during the second and third trimesters. 300 calories is equal to 1/2 chicken sandwich or 1/4 cup of dried fruit plus 1/4 cup of nuts. You need extra nutrients though, which means you need to eat smarter while you're pregnant.
MYTH OR TRUTH: Eating peanuts or peanut butter during pregnancy will give the child peanut allergies?
The new thinking on this is that unless one of the parents has a peanut or tree nut allergy, it's perfectly fine to eat peanuts and nuts when you're pregnant and breastfeeding
MYTH OR TRUTH: If you have a ravenous appetite you're having a boy.
Some research supports the notion that women who are expecting boys do eat more. A Harvard study showed that women carrying males ate more protein, carbohydrates, and fat during their pregnancies. This may be due to higher circulating levels of testosterone.
MYTH OR TRUTH:Sleep positions affect delivery.
I've never heard of this in terms of delivery, but there's a lot of advice to avoid sleeping on your back to prevent cutting off the blood supply to the baby. Some say it's not necessary.
MYTH : Coco butter can prevent stretch marks.
It helps to keep the skin moisturized, but doctors say you're either going to get them or not. It's basically a genetic predisposition. Of course, not gaining too much extra weight will also help.
MYTH OR TRUTH: Don't eat seafood during pregnancy.
There's a ton of confusion out there regarding seafood and pregnancy, causing many women to simply say no to fish for all nine months. While it is true that you should avoid the four that are loaded with mercury -- tilefish, swordfish, shark, and king mackerel -- it's actually smart to eat seafood for your baby's health.
DHA is the mack daddy for your baby's brain and eye development. DHA is an omega-3 polyunsaturated fat that's an essential fatty acid, which means our bodies don't make it and we need to get it from the food we eat. It's found mainly in fatty cold-water fish, like salmon, herring, tuna, trout, mackerel, and oysters. DHA is also now being added to everything from orange juice, English muffins, and soy milk, to chocolates.
DHA plays a key role in the development of a growing fetus' brain and neurological system. And the majority of brain development happens in the third trimester. Your baby is dependent on you to supply her with enough DHA. That means that if you don't get an adequate amount for both of you, your stores can become depleted, especially while you're breastfeeding.
Unfortunately, most pregnant and breast-feeding women only get about 50 mg a day of DHA. Make sure to get at least 200 mg a day while you're pregnant and also throughout breast-feeding.
MYTH OR TRUTH: Stay on the couch in last trimester.
Many people think that the last trimester is time to just kick back and get your feet rubbed. And while I highly recommend getting rest and as many pedicures as you want, it's also important to keep moving. If you've been exercising throughout your pregnancy, there's no reason to stop now -- unless your doctor recommends it. You can cut down on the intensity of exercise -- maybe scaling back from running to walking -- but you can exercise as often as you did in the first two trimesters. These days we know that staying active during pregnancy will help you feel better, manage your stress, and even prevent pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes. It may also help shorten the duration of your labor and definitely helps you snap back in shape post-partum.
Just remember to stay hydrated because dehydration can lead to premature contractions. Try for 2.4 liters (10 cups) each day. Keep a pretty glass or pitcher of water on your desk to encourage you to fill up more.
To find out if sex can trigger premature labor, go to Page 2.
MYTH OR TRUTH: Sex can trigger premature labor.
Many couples tell tales of last minute romance leading to the birth of their child, but having sex does not cause preterm labor. There are a few cases when your doctor might caution you against sex in the third trimester. If you have a history of premature labor, if you have experienced vaginal bleeding, placenta previa (when the placenta covers the cervix), or if your water has already broken, you should not engage in sex. Otherwise, go for it!