This week on the Mommy Labor Nurse podcast I had the chance to chat with Sharon Mazel, co-author of the famed What to Expect When You’re Expecting series, to debunk a bunch of different pregnancy myths!
We start the episode by learning more about Sharon and her background with the What to Expect brand. And how after 23 years she left the brand to branch out on her own, but is still continuing to educate new parents through her website, parenting courses, and guides, and of course over on her Instagram page @sharonmazel.
Tune in to hear us talk about a variety of myths and facts so that we can set the record straight on these fertility and pregnancy topics once and for all!
Fertility Myths (9:23)
The first myths that Sharon gets into are related to fertility and foods. She explains how there are SO many myths and old wives’ tales and anecdotes out there about how if you eat certain foods you’ll get pregnant faster.
She explains how all of her education and guidance is always evidence-based. And what’s interesting is that when it comes to so called “fertility foods” there are no studies that prove a given food’s effectiveness, but there also aren’t any studies that completely rebut their effectiveness either!
For that reason, Sharon takes the stance that since most of these foods are healthy, there’s really no harm in trying them as a part of your “fertility diet” (I’m using that term loosely, hah!).
Here are a few we talk about:
- Yams: There is a particular culture where yams are a staple of the diet, and there are some of the highest rates of twin pregnancies in the world within that culture! So yams have become associated with fertility and more specific a better chance of twin pregnancy
- Nuts and Seeds: Sharon explains that these are always up there on the TTC diet list because they are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which can help regulate hormones and are generally very good for overall health
- Oysters: These are often mentioned as a fertility food, and that could be because they are high in zinc. Zinc deficiency has been proven to decrease fertility and in men, can decrease sperm count. So that may be where that old wives’ tale is based!
- Berries: This is another one that’s not proven, but berries are high in antioxidants, and there is some research-based evidence that antioxidants can protect your eggs, so that is why berries are often called a fertility food
The bottom line is that you don’t have to eat these foods to conceive, there is no “you must eat…” list! But if you already enjoy these foods, they certainly won’t hurt your efforts!
First Trimester Myths (14:14)
So when I brought up first trimester myths, Sharon started talking about pregnancy nausea and “morning sickness” right away. She shared the statistic that around 75% of women experience this frustrating first-trimester symptom.
She immediately addressed the fact that “morning sickness” as a name in itself is a myth because this pregnancy nausea can happen at any time of the day or night. In fact, in the medical community it’s known as NVP: nausea and vomiting of pregnancy.
Here are a few other points she makes about first trimester nausea:
- The absence of nausea in the first trimester isn’t a bad sign! Some women just don’t get this symptom
- The presence of pregnancy nausea is also not a bad sign! She mentions that there are actually some studies out there that have linked pregnancy nausea with protection during pregnancy
- Nausea in one pregnancy (or not!) does not necessarily mean you’ll have it in subsequent pregnancies. And that’s true for all symptoms – every single pregnancy is different!
Second and Third Trimester Myths (19:11)
In this section we cover a lot of different pregnancy myths, sayings, old wives’ tales – here’s a little list of some of the topics we cover and debunk:
- “Eating for two” (19:22): During pregnancy, you don’t need to eat double the amount, or the license to eat as much as you want is a myth. You only need to eat an average of 300 calories more each day (starting in the second trimester)
- Gender Myths (21:07): There are SO many gender myths, and we talk about how these ones are fun because there’s really no harm in them! Sharon knows a ton of different gender myths, so be sure to tune in to see which ones ring or rang true for you 🙂
- You can’t sleep on your back in pregnancy (28:30): This is somewhat of a myth, because it is only true after the fourth month of pregnancy and beyond, and that it speaks to prolonged periods of time on your back! So if you are on your back for a short time while doing prenatal fitness, or if you accidentally fall asleep on your back, it’s going to be okay. What’s more, your body will wake you, or indicate to you, to move to your side if things are getting too compressed before anything bad happens
Related: Third Trimester Essentials
Inducing labor myths (31:06)
You guys know that I love to talk about induction, and natural ways to induce labor. And of course a conversation about pregnancy myths had to include labor induction myths!
Sharon talks about the two induction myths that are backed by research: eating dates (34:37) and nipple stimulation (35:48)! Both of which are covered in our new mini-course, Induction 101!
We go into a few others too, so be sure to listen in!
Wrapping up with some postpartum myths (38:57)
We round out the episode with some postpartum myths, most of which aim to debunk the mainstream narrative of postpartum being an easy and beautiful time for all.
Some of the topics we touch on include bonding with our babies, breastfeeding being easy, milk supply, when to get educated about newborn/breastfeeding topics, and a few others.
About Sharon Mazel
Sharon Mazel is the co-author of the bestselling book What to Expect When You’re Expecting along with other books in the popular pregnancy and parenting book series. She also helped launch, write for, and edit the award-winning website: whattoexpect.com
On her Instagram page @sharonmazel, share posts informative pregnancy and parenting content and hosts regular Q&As.
She speaks widely on pregnancy, parenting, and health & wellness topics – plus she’s a pregnancy and parenting coach, working with families online and in person, answering questions, giving tips, and coming up with strategies and individualized plans to help expectant and new parents be the best possible parents.