Myth versus fact: The truth about what you can and can't do when you're pregnant.

NSW Government
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No hot dogs. No hot baths and lots of hot flushes. Or is it that you CAN have hot dogs, just not the processed type and you should only avoid hot baths in a certain trimester?

Pregnancy is the one time of your life you will be bombarded with information and actually want to know it all.

But it’s tricky.

Old wives tales linger, different studies contradict themselves and really all you want is the facts. So… What should you avoid and what is just a myth?

1. Avoid flying during your first or last trimester.

Not true.

things pregnant women should avoid

You CAN fly during your first and last trimester. Image via iStock.

There are no problems flying during your first trimester and between 28 to 40 weeks for a single pregnancy. Airlines such as Qantas and Jetstar will allow you to travel on flights under four hours with a doctor’s letter. Check with your individual airline first.

2. You must avoid eating sushi.

Yeah sorry, it’s true.

While mums groups always come up with the “but Japanese women eat it while pregnant all the time in Japan” the recommendation from NSW Health is not to.

This is because raw seafood and ready-made foods like sushi carry a high risk of listeria contamination. Listeriosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirths and serious illness in babies.

You can’t see listeria so even if the sushi looks fresh it could still be dangerous.

Better to be safe than sorry they say. Right?

things pregnant women should avoid

No sushi for you. Image via iStock.

3. You can’t get the flu vaccine.


Nicolle Jenkins, the Director of My Midwives has been a midwife for more than nine years, and delivered (she estimates) at least 200 babies.

She told Mamamia that getting the flu vaccine is vital while you are pregnant.

“Pregnant women have a weakened immune response and are therefore four to five times more likely to contract influenza during their pregnancy.”

She said that the vaccination is recommended at any stage during pregnancy and there are no known adverse outcomes for women or their unborn babies. In fact the influenza vaccine can provide protection to the unborn baby from birth to around six-months of age.

things pregnant women should avoid

You can protect your baby even before they're born with a flu shot. Image via iStock.

Vaccination may decrease the risk of stillbirth, miscarriage and pre-term labour. She says it’s also a myth that the vaccine will give you the flu.

“The vaccine doesn’t contain the live virus so it will not infect you with influenza.” Jenkins says.

4. Avoid pets while you are pregnant.


Jenkins says you can have pets (phew, Fido you are allowed to stay) but if you have cats you should avoid changing the kitty litter.

“Cats' faeces carry a parasitic infections called toxoplasmosis. This parasite can cause fetal abnormalities.”

things pregnant women should avoid

Grumpy cat doesn't care for a clean kitty litter. Image via iStock.

5. Avoid the hairdresser if you want a colour.

True and False.

For the most part, hair dyes are safe as they contain different ingredients than when this type of fear mongering first began. But a study in the Journal of Aesthetic and Clinical Dermatology determined that as hair colouring products have proven to be potent carcinogens in animal models, evidence of hair-colouring products as “human oncogenic” agents “remains largely inconclusive due to mixed results.”


They suggest that pregnant women just remain aware of this. If you are worried then stick to highlights that don’t go on your scalp.

6. You should not have hot baths during pregnant.


Avoid very hot baths, hot tubs, and saunas.

things pregnant women should avoid

No more of these. For the moment. Image via iStock.


7. Rest and avoid exercise.

True and false.

Yes, you need to rest but it’s important to keep active and fit. Jenkins says that maintaining healthy weight gain in pregnancy “can decrease the risk of developing high blood pressure and gestational diabetes.”

NSW Health recommends that women should be aware that pregnancy can increase your risk of injury. This is because your ligaments and joints loosen up to let your body grow bigger and to make it easier to give birth.

You can prevent injury in pregnancy by avoiding high-impact exercise (jumping up and down and repetitive bouncing movements) and any movements that over-stretch your hip, knee, ankle or elbow joints.

8. Avoid coffee.


Our very helpful Midwife Nicolle Jenkins says that moderate caffeine intake -- less than 200mg per day or two cups of coffee -- has not been associated with an adverse outcomes.

things pregnant women should avoid

Keep the coffee...just in moderate amounts. Image via iStock.

However, she warns consuming greater than 300mgs per day may have adverse outcomes.

9. You don’t reeeeally need to follow the food rules.

Yes you do, says Jenkins.

“We know that these foods contain a bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes, this bacteria can cause an infection called listeria.”

She says that while listeria is rare it is particularly harmful to pregnant women and their unborn babies.

It can be found in surface-ripened cheeses like brie and camembert, cold deli meat, larger, older fish and raw eggs.

“By avoiding these foods, washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating and reheating left over foods well, we know that this will significantly decrease the risk of a woman contracting listeria.”

10. If you eat too much of a particular food during your pregnancy then the baby might have a craving for that food.

Jenkins told Mamamia that this myth was one of the funnier ones and her answer: Absolutely false.

things pregnant women should avoid

Don't worry: your pregnancy cravings won't affect the baby. Image via iStock.

11. Babies are born on stormy nights or when the moon is full.


Jenkins says true, true, true.

“Every midwife I knows dreads working a night shift when the moon is full, birth suite is crazy.”

She says that women also tend to rupture their membranes when the weather is stormy.

What myths and misconceptions have you heard about pregnancy?