Pregnancy is the time when a woman is assaulted with all sorts of advice, information and suggestions, some of it useful, some of it nothing but old wives tales. We look at some common myths about pregnancy and try to deconstruct them:
1. Your cravings indicate whether it’s a boy or a girl – salt craving if it’s a boy and sweet for a girl. This really is one of the myths about pregnancy which has absolutely no basis in fact. Cravings vary from pregnancy to pregnancy; woman to woman and have nothing to do with the sex of the baby.
2. Heartburn means hairy baby. This one may actually be true. Not only will mothers back up this claim of having more heartburn with hairier babies, this is something that was confirmed by researchers at the John Hopkins University.
3. If you carry high it’s a girl, and if you carry low it’s a boy. There are many myths about pregnancy that try to predict the sex of the baby based on the shape of the mother’s belly. These however are just not true.
4. You can prevent pregnancy stretch marks by using cocoa butter. This one is a pregnancy myth probably propagated by manufacturers of cosmetics to sell their products but there is really little that women can do about stretch marks.
5. Flying during pregnancy is not safe. This again is a myth and the only reason that women are sometimes prevented from flying when they’re close to their due date is because some airlines have such a policy based on not wanting women to go into labor on board their plane.
6. You cannot be around your cat during pregnancy. Unless a woman has developed some sort of pregnancy allergy or condition that prevents such feline contact, this is one of the myths about pregnancy. However pregnant women shouldn’t be handling cat litter because of the fear of toxoplasmosis.
7. If it’s ‘herbal’ it’s safe for use in pregnancy. This may be one of the most dangerous of pregnancy myths. For one ‘herbal’ is an unregulated term; and anyone can use it regardless of whether a product really is herbal. Secondly there are a multitude of herbs that are specifically contraindicated for pregnancy.
8. Baths are dangerous during pregnancy. This one of the myths about pregnancy is partly true but not for the reason that the old wives suggest. Women are told not to have a bath to prevent water from getting “inside” because this may harm the baby, but this is simply not possible. However it is important that woman take warm rather than hot baths, because high temperatures are inimical to the baby.
If you look around the internet, you will find many more pregnancy myths, some which are amusing; others frankly preposterous; but all of which you should take with a pinch of salt. The important thing is to beware of old wives tales and so called advice from the veterans if it seems contrary to anything that the doctor has advised.
It is also important to be wary of myths about pregnancy if they suggest some medication or treatment that has not been cleared by the doctor.