Popular Pregnancy Myths – Fact or Fiction?

From strange food cravings to gender prediction, to dream interpretation, there are handfuls of wild (and entertaining!) pregnancy myths. Here are some of our favorites.

Gender Prediction

Myth: According to folklore, you can deduce your baby’s gender without medical tests. Here’s how:

  • If you carry low, it’s a boy; high, it’s a girl.
  • If you carry in front, it’s a boy; if you’re wide at the middle, it’s a girl.
  • Hang your wedding ring from a strand of the father’s hair over your belly. If the ring circles, it’s girl; if it swings back and forth, it’s a boy.
  • Is Baby’s heart beat faster than 140 beats per minute (bpm)? It’s a girl. Less than 130 bpm? It’s a boy.
  • If morning sickness lingers all day, it’s a girl.

Reality: The only sure-fire way to tell the gender of your unborn child is through ultrasound or amniocentesis.

The Drano Test

Myth: This household clog-buster can predict the gender of your baby.

  • You’ll need: 2 TBS Crystal Drano, rubber gloves, a disposable glass jar, safety glasses; an outdoor work space
  • Collect a fresh urine sample (2 to 3 oz) first thing upon waking.
  • Don your glasses. Pour the Drano into the glass (outdoors!); add an equal amount of urine.
  • If the mix turns nasty smelling and darkens to a brownish color within 10 seconds, it’s a boy! If it does nothing for more than 10-15 seconds, it’s a girl!

Reality: This test is not a proven indicator of gender prediction. If you choose to try it, exercise great caution (and have fun!).

Food Folklore

Myth: Midwives of yesteryear claimed that what you ate before conception could influence the gender of your baby. Want a girl? Eat a diet rich in diary and magnesium-ladden foods (nuts, soy beans, leafy green veggies). For a little boy, stick with salty foods, plenty of red meat, and fizzy drinks.

Another popular myth is that if you want your baby to have lots of hair, you should eat spicy foods.

Reality: No research backs up any of these superstitions. Your best bet during pregnancy is to eat a healthy, balanced diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, protein, and low-fat dairy.

Crazy Cravings

Myth: Thoughts of ice cream and cold pizza (with anchovies!) keeping you up late at night? According to popular myth, your unborn baby causes you to crave what s/he wants to eat. Some even believe that if you deny your cravings, Baby will be born with a birthmark in the shape of the food it was denied.

Reality: Pregnancy food cravings are very common and are partly due to the effect of rising hormone levels on your taste perceptions (making everyday foods taste different to you). Most are harmless, but if you find yourself wanting to eat chalk, dirt, or paint chips, be sure to speak with your doctor. (These types of out-of-control food cravings may be due to a disorder called pica.)

No Nesting Allowed?

Myth: It’s hard to resist buying adorable baby clothes during pregnancy, but if you’re superstitious, chances are you’re stashing your layette at a friend’s house until Baby arrives. Some believe it’s unlucky to bring home baby items before birth because it is tempting fate and assuming that the everything will go according to plan.

Reality: Nest at will! No scientific fact can back up this claim. Have fun and enjoy setting up the nursery, collecting baby toys, and building your baby’s layette.

Breast Stimulation and Contractions

Myth: Stimulating the nipples or the breasts can bring on strong contractions and hasten your labor.

Reality: Fact! WFA Mom’s Dr. Gerard Leo explains that nipple stimulation causes the release of oxytocin, which is the same hormone used for medical inductions. (After delivery, oxytocin is released by breastfeeding.)

Heartburn Means Lots of Hair?

Myth: If you’re experiencing heartburn during pregnancy, your baby will be born with a full head of hair.

Reality: Fact! In July 2007, researchers at Johns Hopkins released a study showing that a connection between heartburn and newborn hair does exists. The study followed 64 women throughout pregnancy. Each participant ranked their severity of heartburn and when their babies were born, two independent observers rated the thickness of the newborn hair. Seventy-eight percent of the pregnant women reported some level of heartburn, and of the 28 women who reported moderate to severe heartburn, 82 percent gave birth to babies with above average hair thickness. (Of the 12 women who reported no heartburn symptoms at all, 83 percent gave birth to babies with very little or no hair.)

Birthing Beliefs

Myth: There is an old superstition dictating that everything around a woman in labor must be “undone” so as not to block the passage of the baby through the birth canal. Those abiding by this belief make sure that necklaces, shoe strings, and doors and windows are all unclasped, untied, or opened.

Reality: Of course, this is merely a superstition. The best way to prepare for your birth is by maintaining a good diet and exercise program (with your doctor’s permission) throughout your pregnancy. You can also reasearch birthing techniques or pain medications, take a birthing class, and learn as much as you can about this very important next step in your life.

Pain-Free Birth

Myth: Looking for a pain-free birth? Years ago, your midwife would have placed a knife under your bed to ease labor pains.

Reality: Knives have no place in a bedroom! If labor pains are worrying you, study up on epidural and pain medication options and other, natural labor and childbirth options.

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