Pregnancy is a time for celebrating; not a time to live in fear and stress. There are so many myths surrounding pregnancy, but we have some great news!

While there are certain unavoidable truths, there are plenty of outdated or simply untrue pieces of “advice” floating around. That’s why we’re debunking the 12 most common pregnancy myths.

All Women Feel Happy During Pregnancy

Many women experience feelings of joy and excitement during their pregnancy, but it’s completely normal not to as well. Pregnancy hormones and worries about birth and baby can cause high highs and low lows for anyone, regardless of your pre-pregnancy emotional or mental health.

If you’re struggling with feelings of sadness, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor or midwife – you’re not alone.

You Only Crave Foods That Your Body Needs

We tend to think that cravings mean that our bodies need that food, but there is little research to support that notion! Some alternative medicine practitioners believe that there may be some links, such as craving a burger and the body’s need for protein or craving chocolate and the body’s need for magnesium, but there’s no solid research that suggests these links are real. However, many people do find that adding more sources of healthy fats to their diet reduces cravings overall.

There’s one caveat to this myth. If you are experiencing cravings for inedible items such as dirt or laundry detergent, contact your doctor immediately, as this can be a symptom of severe anaemia.

You Can’t Eat Sushi While Pregnant

Health professionals used to warn against eating raw fish, but there’s no longer a consensus that it poses a risk for pregnant women because there isn’t actually conclusive scientific evidence that it can do harm. Pregnant women should, however, choose fish that have low mercury, so as a general rule avoid mackerel, shark, tilefish, and swordfish.

Overall, if you limit consumption, there’s no need to worry. If you have concerns, consult your doctor or stick to vegetarian or cooked seafood sushi.

Intercourse Can Hurt the Baby

While you might not feel in the mood for sex due to swollen ankles, morning sickness, and indigestion, abstaining from sex for the sake of your unborn child isn’t necessary.

Unless your doctor specifically bans sex due to a serious complication, intercourse won’t affect your baby. There are multiple layers of skin, plus the amniotic sac that cushion your baby from harm.

No Smoked Salmon

Despite warnings in previous years about pregnant women consuming fish, North American governments now recommend that women actually consume more fish overall (8 to 12 ounces a week), so eating smoked salmon isn’t risky.

In fact, it’s quite healthy for you and baby because it’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may lead to a more intelligent and communicative baby, according to research studies.

No Coffee When Pregnant

Many women find it next to impossible to simultaneously give up caffeine while experiencing the lethargy that comes with being pregnant. The good news? Forgoing coffee completely when you’re pregnant isn’t remotely necessary.

Most health practitioners will now say that one cup a day is fine, just say no to the refill. You can also opt for decaf (which isn’t actually completely void of caffeine) or a latte instead!

Pregnant Women are Automatically in a “No-Fly” Zone

Many people will tell you that you absolutely can’t fly during your first or last trimester. However, that’s false. Some airlines will prohibit pregnant women from flying during the last trimester, but they’re just afraid you’ll go into labor and mess up the aircraft upholstery – they aren’t actually concerned about you and your baby.

Real reasons to avoid air travel include required vaccines (that aren’t safe for pregnant women), an outbreak of a virus (such as Zika) in your destination country, lack of medical/travel insurance in the country you’re visiting, or if you have a high-risk pregnancy. It’s always best to discuss travel plans with your doctor, as they’ll be able to provide guidance about any modifications you may need to make.

Being Pregnant Means Eating for 2

Once you announce that you’re pregnant, it won’t be long before you start hearing “You’re eating for 2 now!”. While growing a baby does require more nutrients and calories, it’s not very much.

Being pregnant doesn’t technically require any additional calories in the first trimester, and only requires about 300-350 additional calories per day in the second trimester and 450 calories per day in the third. Eating any more will result in a bigger baby and more difficult weight loss attempts after you deliver.

This can be difficult to adhere to, as pregnancy often brings strong cravings for weird and unhealthy foods! It’s okay to eat treats in moderation but focus on fueling yourself with nutritious food and listening to your body.

Stay Away From the Cat When Expecting

Don’t punish poor Fluffy! It’s purrrfectly safe to pet and cuddle your cat during pregnancy. However, a cat’s faeces can contain a parasite called toxoplasmosis, picked up from eating already infected prey, coming in contact with contaminated soil, or eating raw or undercooked meat.

If your kitty passes along toxoplasmosis to you, it can cause birth defects. However, the risk is very minimal and many pregnant women actually develop a natural immunity to the disease. The simple solution is to put your partner on litter box duty and wash your hands thoroughly when touching raw meat.

Exercise Can Harm the Baby

Avoiding exercise when pregnant can actually be more harmful than beneficial. Gentle to moderate physical activity will help keep your body, and the baby it’s growing, in good health. Strong muscles and cardiovascular health may actually make for an easier, shorter delivery as well!

The general rule is that you can continue your pre-pregnancy exercise routine without much concern (unless you have a high-risk pregnancy), though you’ll want to listen to your body’s warnings more, instead of pushing it like you may have pre-pregnancy. However, the most important thing is to consult your doctor early on in your pregnancy to discuss what types of exercise you can continue doing.

Expecting Women Can’t Color Their Hair

Chemicals are never a good thing, especially when they can be absorbed through the scalp. However, the skin only absorbs very small amounts, which aren’t enough to cause a birth defect. You would have to use extremely high doses of chemicals to cause any harm – a dose that far exceeds those used to color your hair, even if you’re going bleach blonde.

Pregnant Women Can’t Have X-Rays

You don’t need to completely avoid radiation exposure from x-rays while pregnant. While high levels of exposure and x-rays specifically of your abdomen should be avoided, an x-ray of another body part will not expose your baby to harmful levels.

Generally speaking, the benefits of a diagnostic x-ray outweigh any potential risk, with the exclusion of dental x-rays, which can likely be postponed until after you’ve delivered without consequence. If you have concerns, talk to your doctor first.