For first time moms pregnancy is a time of mystery and intrigue. Even in our modern age of science and all the knowledge we possess about biology the process of pregnancy and birth takes us into an vast unknown of a zillion questions.
So it’s no wonder that in earlier times many myths became attached to the process of pregnancy and childbirth.
If you’re newly pregnant these myths can be a source of amusement or they can be a source of worry.
What if it’s true?
What if, blah, blah, blah.
You want to know the real truth?
The overwhelming majority of these myths are exactly that – myths.
They are correlations that seemed to make sense many moons ago before science could help explain things. And in the process these myths have been scaring women for centuries onwards.
Stick to the facts ladies they’ll not steer you far wrong.
To help you understand just how useless many of these myths are, let’s check out a few of the most common ones you might come across and tell you exactly why they are totally and utterly wrong.
1. If You Carry Your ‘Bump’ High, You’ve Having a Girl; if it’s Low, it’s a Boy
Really? The position you carry your ‘bump’ really has no bearing on whether it’s a boy or a girl at all.
Is there any scientific evidence to suggest that a girl will be higher and a boy lower?
None at all.
Your baby will find the most comfortable position and it all totally depends on them and the way they’re laying as to whether your bump is high or low. Every woman is different and there are no highs and lows in terms of gender.
The only way to find that out is to have a scan, a blood test or wait until he or she appears.
2. You Get Worse Morning Sickness With a Girl
Not usually. Some women get morning sickness very badly (officially known as hyperemesis gravidarum). Others don’t get it at all and some only get it mildly.
Some women have it all day, some only have it at night (despite the name), and some really do get it in the morning.
Whether you or not you experience nausea and sickness during your pregnancy is a totally individual deal. And unfortunately there is no way to tell whether or not you’ll be lucky or otherwise.
If you want a real life example of why this is a total myth look at Kate Middleton. Severe morning sickness with her first child (a boy), and the same severe morning sickness with her second (a girl).
3. If You Have Bad Heartburn, Your Baby Will Have a Lot of Hair at Birth
Really? There isn’t a lot of evidence around (actually, there isn’t any) to suggest that a baby with a full head of hair will cause you to have heartburn or that the heartburn causes hair to grow either.
Again, it’s pot luck.
Heartburn in pregnancy occurs due to a number of reasons. One is when you eat spicy foods which ‘repeat on you’ (and can happen outside of pregnancy).
Another is when your bump is growing and pushing upwards, causing problems with your gastrointestinal system.
And the other main reason during pregnancy is due to pregnancy hormones relaxing your esophageal sphincter.
Nothing to do with hair, sorry!
4. You Can Determine Your Baby’s Gender From The Heart Rate
If this was the case, there would be no need for a scan to identify the gender of a baby as your sonographer would simply be able to tell you from babies heart rate.
A baby’s heart beat varies throughout the day and is faster earlier on in pregnancy than it is later. As long as it is strong and regular, that’s all that really matters.
The gender has nothing to do with the heart beat and has everything to do with whether the scan shows any extra appendages in the genital area or not.
This myth is very much akin to the old circling a ring over your palm story. It’s fun to do but in reality it has nothing to do with accurate gender prediction.
5. Eating Lemons or Oranges Will Give Your Baby Jaundice
Oranges and lemons are fantastic sources of vitamin C – a vitamin that we all need whether pregnant or not.
These are completely safe to eat in pregnancy and actually recommended to make sure that you get the nutrients you and your baby need.
There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that eating these fruits causes jaundice, in fact jaundice is actually caused by something else entirely.
Jaundice in babies occurs when there is too much bilirubin in the body – not caused by fruit.
Jaundice also doesn’t develop in the baby during pregnancy it develops afterwards.
6. If You Weren’t Exercising Before Pregnancy, You Shouldn’t Start Now
This is a strange one. Exercise is good for you whether pregnant or not, and if before you were pregnant you didn’t do much in the way of exercise, there is nothing to suggest that you can’t take up some light exercise now that you are.
Light exercise such as swimming, yoga, walking and low impact aerobics during pregnancy can help you to avoid putting on excess weight during your pregnancy and help to maintain a healthy weight overall.
There is however nothing to suggest that as soon as you see the ‘positive’ result on your pregnancy test that you need to become a gym bunny.
Yes it’s a good idea to check with your midwife or doctor before you start any new type of exercise in pregnancy but in most cases it’s going to be ok.
8. You Can’t Have Any Caffeine – at All
Coffee lovers, don’t panic! This pregnancy myth became a little twisted probably by someone who was a little over anxious to follow the rules.
Basically, yes, caffeine isn’t the greatest, but you don’t have to cut it out completely, you simply need to limit your intake.
According to official NICE guidelines you should have no more caffeine than 200 mg a day which shows that you don’t have to cut out coffee completely.
Do be aware however, some carbonated drinks and chocolate also contain caffeine..
9. You Can’t Just Stop Smoking And go Cold Turkey, Otherwise You’ll Give Your Baby Withdrawal Shock
This one is the worst and probably most dangerous pregnancy myth around.
Many women in the US have been told (by doctors no less) that stopping smoking “cold turkey” can put stress on the baby and that they should taper off or not stop at all!
But do you know what?
Not one of the many thousands of smoking studies have shown this to be the case.
What is without doubt though, is that smoking during pregnancy has the potential to cause a lot of harm.
If you smoke it’s always best to stop smoking as soon as you find out that you’re pregnant.
The longer you smoke the more likely it is that your baby will be affected by your habit, so the quicker you stop it the better.
There are many ways to give up. We go through 7 of the best ways to stop smoking in pregnancy here.
And if you still need help your midwife or doctor will be able to support you to stop and give you numbers of groups and organisations who help pregnant women cut out the habit for good.
10. Carrying a Girl Makes Your Skin Break Out, But Carrying a Boy Makes You Glow
There is no way to know whether you’re having a boy or a girl simply by looking at the state of your skin.
Pregnancy hormones are pregnancy hormones, whether they come in a male or female variety.
If your skin breaks out when you’re pregnant that is an effect that is personal to you and that pregnancy. If you glow when you’re pregnant, well, you’re lucky!
This is a true myth and one that really has no basis in reality.
11. Putting Baking Soda in Your Urine Can Predict Gender
No, no, no! Okay, we get it, you’re keen to know what you’re having, but seriously, wait for the scan if you’re really determined to know.
Baking soda, circling rings, how you carry your baby, heart rate, and everything else is just your baby. And putting baking soda in your urine is really, well, just a bit weird to be honest!
12. If The Baby Doesn’t Move Too Much, it’s a Girl; Boys Move More
You will get to know your baby’s general pattern of movement as your pregnancy progresses, and there is no evidence to suggest that a boy moves more than a girl.
Babies move around no matter what their gender, and you should become familiar with how much and how often your baby moves. This is so that you can highlight a problem and get seen if you feel your baby’s movements have slowed down at any point.
If you want to have some fun with gender prediction then take a look at these:
13. Babies Move Less at The End of Pregnancy
Whilst you might find that your baby moves a little bit less due to less room inside the uterus they will still move and you will still feel it regularly.
Any slow down in movement should be reported to your midwife or doctor because this could be a sign of a problem.
As we mentioned with the last point, you’ll get to know your baby’s regular pattern and you should go by that, not on myths which tell you what should or shouldn’t happen.
Those are some of the most common myths you’ll find associated with pregnancy.
Of course, there’s a million others that you’ll no doubt come across, whether you hear them online, from friends and family, or from that well-meaning old lady down the road.