We’ve all heard the ‘old wives’ tales’ about pregnancy, but are they true, or are they simply myths?
Myth 1: If a pregnant woman is carrying high, the baby will be a girl and if she is carrying low, it will be a boy.
The facts: One of the most popular myths, there is actually no scientific basis for this. You simply can’t tell from outside the womb what sex a baby is. Carrying low simply indicates that the baby dropped lower into the pelvis. Factors such as the mum to be’s muscle size, structure, posture, shape before pregnancy, and amount of fat deposited around the abdomen play a role in the size and shape of a pregnant belly. If you’re really curious to know the sex of your baby, ask your doctor for an ultrasound. Look on the bright side; if you decide to guess yourself, you’ve got a 50:50 chance of it being right!
Myth 2: If you have a cat, you have to get rid of it if you’re pregnant.
The facts: Again, false. You most certainly cannot change your cat’s litter box during pregnancy without wearing rubber gloves due to the risk of toxoplasmosis. Ideally, it’s better during this period to get someone else to change it for you, but if you do have to do it yourself then invest in a pair of hardwearing rubber gloves and avoid contact with either the litter or the faeces. You’re also free to pet or stroke your cat during pregnancy – you may actually find it relaxing.
Myth 3: If your nose swells during pregnancy, you’re going to have a baby girl.
The facts: There is absolutely no link between a mother’s appearance and a baby’s gender. Nose swelling can simply be explained by increased oestrogen levels, which heighten the blood flow to the mucous membrane, causing it to expand.
Myth 4: Heartburn during pregnancy means that your baby will be born with lots of hair.
The facts: Heartburn is a common discomfort during pregnancy and is in no way an accurate predictor of a baby being born with lots of hair. I speak from experience! I was tortured throughout my pregnancy with heartburn and water brash and my baby came out like Yul Brynner!
Myth 5: No morning sickness means you’re going to have a baby boy.
The facts: About 50 per cent of all pregnant women go through some degree of morning sickness. Old wives’ tales will tell you that women who are carrying boys are protected from the male hormone testosterone, which is produced by the male foetus, while doctors believe that relaxin, a hormone produced by the mum to be is actually responsible for the nausea.
Myth 6: You can’t fly during the first or last trimesters of your pregnancy.
The facts: You can actually fly whenever you want (unless you have been advised not to by your GP or midwife due to health issues). Some airlines won’t let you board the plane during your last trimester, but that is more to do with their fears that you’ll go into labour en route and they’ll have to land the plane at an unscheduled stop!
Myth 7: Drinking stout or dark beer is good for you during pregnancy.
The facts: For some years there has been talk about dark barley malt beers providing much-needed calories during pregnancy, increasing the milk supply and assisting the milk flow. The fact that some have high levels of iron, which can become depleted during pregnancy, may have led to this myth. Experts are now apparently divided on this issue, with some arguing that alcohol actually reduces milk production. Most seem to be agreed, however, on the fact that pregnant women and nursing mothers should totally abstain from any form of alcoholic beverage. If you’re concerned about your iron levels, speak to your GP or midwife.
Myth 8: Having sex might hurt your baby.
The facts: Seven layers of skin from the abdominal wall to the amniotic sac protect your baby. During your pregnancy your cervix, which has lengthened, has also hardened to prevent anything from getting into the uterus. Additionally, your cervix is producing mucus to keep the vagina clean and infection free. Intercourse therefore cannot reach, touch or harm the baby. (The only exception to this rule is where a woman has been told by her GP or midwife to abstain from intercourse due to possible complications.)
Myth 9: During pregnancy, going outside during an eclipse will give your baby a cleft palate.
The facts: Not even worth discussing……enough said!
Myth 10: You can tell the sex of your child by its heart rate. Baby boys’ hearts beat faster than baby girls’ hearts/Baby girls’ hearts beat faster than baby boys’ hearts.
The facts: The fact that even the old wives can’t agree which is which tells you everything. A normal foetal heart rate is between 110 and 160 beats per minute (bpm), although some people think if it’s faster (usually above the 140 bpm range) it’s a boy/girl or, if it’s slower, it’s a boy/girl.