Expert Q&A | Busting Pregnancy Nutrition Myths

Nutrition during pregnancy can be super overwhelming. With so much mixed advice and misinformation, we decided to partner up with Ryann from the @prenatalnutritionist to bust the top pregnancy nutrition myths.

Ryann is a clinically trained Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Certified Lactation Educator, and Author of The Feel-Good Pregnancy Cookbook so she knows what she is talking about! You can find out more about her here.

“Is it true you need to eat for two during pregnancy?” 

It is a common misconception that when you are pregnant you are eating for both you and your baby. While yes, technically, you are eating to not only fuel you but to grow your baby, but this does not mean you add an extra 1600-1800 calories to your daily diet. 

It is also true your nutrient needs increase, but they do not double. 

During the last few months of pregnancy, it is suggested to increase your calories by 350-500 calories a day in the second and third trimesters. This may be appropriate for some women, but not for every one (1).

Nutrition should be catered to the individual and does not need to follow a cookie-cutter plan.

A gradual increase in calories is best for you and your baby. Eat until you are satisfied and you should be right around where you need to be calorie-wise. 

You can add calories in a number of healthy ways. To make each meal as nutritious as possible while increasing calories add extra veggies, switch to full-fat dairy, and top foods with avocado 

We prefer to use the term “nourishment for two” rather than “eating for two” during pregnancy. 

“Eating spicy food during pregnancy will cause you to go into labour”

It is common that people think eating spicy foods will cause you to go into labor. Or that pineapple causes contractions. This is absolutely not the case.

Spicy foods are known to cause indigestion and heartburn making you feel even more uncomfortable, but will not cause you to go into labour during any time in your pregnancy.

In some cases, spicy food may cause other gastrointestinal issues, if this is the case, simply avoid them. 

Of course, there is always the chance for coincidence and you might happen to be eating spicy foods just around the time your body is ready to go into labour. 

While it is an old wives tale to try spicy foods if you are past your due date, it is not harmful to you or the baby if you do decide to enjoy foods that are spicy or snack on pineapple every now and then. 

“I have heard you cannot have caffeine during pregnancy.”

It is okay to have caffeine during pregnancy. It is commonly thought that you must give up coffee while pregnant. Rest assured you can still have your daily cup (maybe even two). 

Since coffee and tea are popular morning beverages, there is a growing body of evidence on the effects of caffeine during pregnancy. 

It is recommended to limit your caffeine intake to 200-300 mg (45). While some studies don’t suggest adverse effects until closer to 6 cups per day (6). 

Keep in mind, more foods than coffee contains caffeine. Foods like tea, chocolate, and soda also contain caffeine and should be added to your total caffeine consumption for the day.

Some women are averse to coffee once they become pregnant, but others still need it to keep them moving through their day. 

Do what is best for you and your baby.  

“You can’t eat soft cheeses while pregnant.”

If you shop at popular grocery stores in the US, NZ, UK and AU, the soft cheeses are most likely pasteurized. It’s very easy and quick to turn the cheese package over and find the word “pasteurized.”

Now, if you eat from a farm or strictly shop at farmer’s markets you might have to do some extra investigating. Don’t be shy to ask your farmers or market employee’s.

Pasteurization is a heat treating process that helps destroy pathogens contained in foods (6).

Keep in mind, pasteurization still does not guarantee the product completely free of harmful bacteria it just decreases the chances.⁣ 

Use your intuition which is much better than you think.  If the cheese looks or smells funky (more funky than normal cheese smell) then don’t eat it.

If you are feeling confused about what’s safe (and not) during pregnancy The Prenatal Nutrition Library was built to help you feel confident in your food choices for two.  In the library, Ryann and her team provide examples of protein powders that fit the above descriptions and review prenatal vitamins.

To find out more information on pre and post-natal nutrition click here.

Information provided by Lauren Gannon, Dietetic Intern and Ryann Kipping, RDN, CLEC  Owner & Founder

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