Myths and Tales about Pregnancy
Over the centuries there has been passed down many pregnancy tales (often called “old wives tales”) and myths. When a pregnancy outcome is consistent with the pregnancy tale the tale will often tend to be spread further and with conviction about its validity. Often pregnancy tales and myths are spread by the self labelled pregnancy authorities with passion but without any scientific substantiation of the validity their claims.
Below I have listed some of the pregnancy tales and myths. I have indicated whether they are TRUE or FALSE. Whether TRUE or FALSE categorisation is determined by whether there are any medical studies that I am aware of that support the claim.
Please feel free to e-mail me any pregnancy tales and myths that you are aware of which are not listed so they can be included in the collection.
- Breastfeeding a toddler during pregnancy will deprive your in utero baby of nutrition. FALSE. If a woman is healthy and especially if she is taking a good pregnancy supplement, breastfeeding during pregnancy is encouraged. Breastfeeding should be stopped before the new baby is born as it is not a good idea to start a newborn baby on established breast milk.
- You won’t fall pregnant while you are breastfeeding. FALSE. Breastfeeding gives some protection, especially while your baby is only on breast milk. This is because of the elevated level of the breastfeeding hormone prolactin. But when you start comping your baby or introducing solids there is less protection. You may find you go from lack of periods because of breastfeeding to lack of periods because of pregnancy. That is because ovulation will resume about two weeks before your first period.
Labour and birth
- Drinking raspberry leaf tea will mean I will have better labour and birth. FALSE. There is no agreed scientific evidence. The advocates will be those women who drank the tea and had a good labour and birth, but they were probably going to anyway. Those who drank the tea and had a difficult labour and birth won’t be recommending it!
Nausea and vomiting
- Morning sickness only happens in the morning. FALSE. The name ‘morning sickness” is a misnomer. Although you may feel worse in the morning, you may feel sick and vomit at any time of the day.
- Vomiting during pregnancy will harm your baby. FALSE. Vomiting in pregnancy is rarely a risk to your health or your unborn baby’s health. It’s common in early pregnancy. Excessive vomiting so you can’t even keep fluids down (called “hyperemesis gravidarum”) can result in you becoming dehydrated and so needing admission to hospital. Even then your baby will not suffer.
- You’re less likely to have a miscarriage if have excessive nausea. TRUE. This thought due to nausea correlating with pregnancy hormone (βHCG) levels. While the actions of βHCG are not known it is used as a maker of early pregnancy well being.
- Nausea will stop at about 12 weeks of pregnancy. TRUE and FALSE. About half of all pregnant women do suddenly feel better at the end of the first 12 weeks of their pregnancy. But for some nausea and vomiting can continue for a bit longer and for a few remains throughout the pregnancy.
- You will have more nausea if you’re expecting twins. TRUE often. Twins are associated with higher βHCG levels
Cord around neck
- If I hang out the clothes on the clothes line after washing it will cause your baby to have its cord around its neck and may cause your baby to strangle itself. FALSE
- Drano test. Drano mixed with urine will tell you if you’re having a girl or a boy by the urine colour change.FALSE Not only is there is no consensus on what colour equals which sex, but also there is no scientific basis for the test.
- Baby’s heart rate. A girl baby will have a faster heart rate throughout the pregnancy. FALSE
- Your shape. Extra size out front means you are having a girl, while extra size around the hips and bottom means a boy. FALSE. There are many factors that determine a woman’s shape in pregnancy but her baby’s sex is not one of them.
- Your shape. Carrying low means a boy; carrying high means a girl. FALSE.
- Dark nipples indicate a boy. FALSE. This colour change has nothing to do with the sex of the child
- Nausea during pregnancy probably means a girl. FALSE
- Craving chocolate means you are having a girl, while craving straight lemon juice means a boy. FALSE
- Pregnancy symptoms are different this pregnancy compared to my previous pregnancy. That means the sex of my baby is different. FALSE
- Weight gain of your husband/partner in your pregnancy means you are having a girl. If he doesn’t put on extra weight, then you’re carrying a boy. FALSE
- Looking round and full in the face means you are having a girl. FALSE
- Breast size. If the right one is larger, you’re having a boy while a larger left breast indicates a girl. FALSE. All women have one breast larger than the other. This has nothing to do with your baby’s sex,
- Swinging pendant or ring. If the necklace swings back and forth, you are having a boy. If it is more of a circular motion, then it’s a girl. This can also be done by suspending a ring on a string above your belly.FALSE
- Acne. Getting acne during your pregnancy indicates you’re carrying a girl. FALSE
- Picking up a key. If you’ve picked it up by the thinner end, you’re having a girl and by the bottom, rounder part means a boy. FALSE
- Scissors and knife. If scissors are put under one cushion and a knife under another cushion and a pregnant woman without foreknowledge sits on the cushion with the knife under it then she is expecting a boy and on the cushion with the scissors under it then she is expecting a girl. FALSE
- Mum knows. Ask yourself what you think you’re having. This may be TRUE. In one study pregnant women who did not know were asked what they thought was their baby’s sex. 71% guessed the sex of their baby correctly
- Too many scans are dangerous for my baby. FALSE. Pregnancy scans have been happening since 1962. There have been millions of ultrasound scans done on pregnant women throughout the world since them and many studies into whether scans are dangerous. As well throughout the world some women because of certain pregnancy conditions have needed very frequent ultrasound scan in their pregnancies. There is no evidence that ultrasound scans will harm your baby.
Also see The fish that got away