Pregnancy Myths and Practical Tips

Am Fam Physician. 2020 Oct 1;102(7):420-426.


For many patients, pregnancy is a highly anticipated and exciting phase of life, but it can also be anxiety provoking. Family physicians can resolve some of this anxiety and promote maternal and fetal health by making specific recommendations at prenatal visits. A daily prenatal vitamin with at least 400 mcg of folic acid and 30 mg of elemental iron should be recommended to promote neurologic and musculoskeletal fetal development. Weight gain in pregnancy should be guided by preconception body mass index. People who are underweight should gain 28 to 40 lb, those who have a normal weight should gain 25 to 35 lb, and those who are overweight or obese should gain 15 to 25 lb or 11 to 20 lb, respectively. A well-balanced diet including omega-3 fatty acids should be encouraged. Unpasteurized foods should be avoided during pregnancy because of the risk of listeriosis. Caffeine intake should be limited to 200 mg per day (about two small cups of coffee), and artificial sweeteners should be avoided. Pregnant patients should be encouraged to engage in regular cardiovascular activity for at least 150 minutes per week. Bed rest is not recommended. Sex can be continued throughout an uncomplicated pregnancy. Avoidance of alcohol and marijuana is recommended. The effects of hair dye or hair straightening products on fetal development or neonatal outcomes are unclear.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Preconception Care*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care*