'Don't cut your hair!' and other pregnancy advice older mums find surprising

'Don't cut your hair!' and other pregnancy advice our mums find surprising
'Don't cut your hair!' and other pregnancy advice our mums find surprising Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK

No sushi, no soft cheese, no alcohol  - and don't cut your hair!

The "rules" of pregnancy have changed considerably since our own mothers gave birth and we're all more confused than ever. That's according to a new US survey conducted by One Poll and Monistat, which looked at the way advice to pregnant mums has changed over the generations.

Over a quarter of mums admitted that they received differing advice from other women, while 38 per cent shared that the information provided by their doctors was different to what their mums were told when they were expecting.

"With new advancements in medical research each year, health guidelines for pregnancy are often changing and that can lead to confusion for mum, especially when decades of great mums before her likely weren't privy to the latest guidance," says Dr. Alyssa Dweck, obstetrician and spokesperson for Monistat. "Of course, there are core guidelines that have stood the test of decades, but as the years progress, there are discernible generational shifts in pregnancy practices given the new information available."

A whopping 84 percent of the 2,000 expectant mamas surveyed, doubted the health choices they made while pregnant. This was despite 49 per cent changing what they ate, 27 per cent changing what cleaning supplies they use and 22 per cent modifying their skin care.

For 36 per cent of women, there's just too much information shared during pregnancy, with 84 per cent of preggos admitting to receiving unsolicited advice from family and friends.

But while the younger generation might be busily trying to work out the science from the pseudoscience when it comes to pregnancy health, the older generation are just as baffled by some of the advice we're receiving as modern mums. And topping this list was "don't cut your hair!" 

If you're pregnant or have recently given birth, you may well find yourself nodding along with your mum bob (AKA reverse mullet, AKA, "speak to the manager" haircut), having been swept up in what Sydney Morning Herald beauty columnist Annie Brown calls the "newborn fug."

"Don't let a new mother get a mum bob," Ms Brown implores. "The hormones and desire to exert some control over her life will make her want to do it, and speaking from painful experience, you won't have the time or energy to or appropriate heat styling tools to replicate what the hairdresser did."

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Yep - you're probably better off rocking the greasy "mum bun" for a few months instead.

But as well as avoiding getting a sleep-deprived, high-maintenace chop, the other advice modern mums receive that older generations find baffling include:

  • Don't eat a new vegetable you haven't tried before (33 per cent)
  • Don't touch cats (33 per cent)
  • Avoid eating cold cuts (33 per cent)
  • Don't lie flat on your back (29 per cent)

According to Dr Nicole Highet, Founder and Executive Director of the Centre of Perinatal Excellence (COPE), the range of information women - and men - receive during pregnancy can be overwhelming.

"Pregnancy is a time when there are many changes – physical, emotional, mental, relational  - not to mention your changing identity," she says, "which involves processing information to enable expectant parents to understand as much as possible about what to expect in pregnancy and how to cope."

For many parents-to-be, however, it can be incredibly stressful. 

"The range of information received, and, especially when conflicting, can be overwhelming, leaving many expectant women (and their partners) feeling confused, uncertain and anxious," she says.

So how can parents manage the information overload?

Here are Dr Highet's tips:

  • Be aware of information you are receiving and where it is coming from. In Australia we have best practice guidelines which are here to provide you with the latest, best practice evidence surrounding the physical aspects of pregnancy and emotional and mental health in pregnancy
  • Be mindful of the quality and relevance of advice you are receiving from others – is it credible, current? Is it coming from a constructive place?
  • You can sign up to COPE's Ready to COPE newsletter which helps parents access quality information and support throughout their pregnancy – including how to manage the overwhelming levels of information and often critical or conflicting advice in pregnancy and early parenthood.

And finally, "try and be aware of the impact that information and advice is having on your emotional and mental health," Dr Highet says. " Are you overloading yourself and is this potentially increasing your feelings of stress and anxiety?"