Many myths that persist today are equally inaccurate, but continue to be passed on by well-meaning friends and relatives. Here are ten of the most popular myths about pregnancy and childbirth.
Pregnancy and birth have long been the subjects of myth and misinformation. The ancient Egyptians tested for pregnancy using a mixture of mother’s milk and crushed melon; if this concoction made the woman sick, she was announced to be pregnant. Many myths that persist today are equally inaccurate, but continue to be passed on by well-meaning friends and relatives. Here are ten of the most popular myths about pregnancy and childbirth.
MYTH: Heartburn indicates the baby will be born with a full head of hair.
FACT: No correlation has ever been shown between the amount of hair a baby has at birth and the amount of heartburn experienced by the mother during the pregnancy. Heartburn and excess stomach acid are common complaints during pregnancy; any connection between these symptoms and hair growth is purely coincidental.
MYTH: Pregnant women experience food cravings that correlate to deficiencies in diet.
FACT: Food cravings are a normal hormonal reaction and have little or nothing to do with dietary deficiencies. While there is no harm in indulging these cravings provided the desired food is healthy and consumed in moderation, they should not be considered an indicator of poor nutritional habits.
MYTH: Breastfeeding protects women against pregnancy.
FACT: While breastfeeding may provide some contraceptive benefits, it cannot be depended upon as a sole method of preventing pregnancy. Always use a backup method to ensure full contraceptive protection.
MYTH: If your mother had a C-section, you’re likely to need one too.
FACT: There is no hereditary correlation in methods of delivery. Women whose mothers or grandmothers delivered via C-section are no more or less likely to need a C-section than those who come from a long line of natural childbirth deliveries.
MYTH: Women experience more severe morning sickness with girls than boys.
FACT: The severity of morning sickness is dependent on hormone levels within the body. These hormone surges are not related to the gender of the baby.
MYTH: Certain foods can increase the chances of giving birth to a boy (or a girl).
FACT: The determining factor in the gender of the baby is the chromosomal makeup of the sperm that fertilizes the mother’s egg. As a result, the mother’s diet prior to or during conception cannot influence the gender of the baby. The baby’s sex is solely determined by the genetic contribution of the father.
MYTH: For every baby, you lose a tooth.
FACT: This myth actually has a grain of truth in it. Before modern medical care and prenatal vitamins existed, pregnant women often had difficulty in obtaining sufficient calcium and other nutrients in order to maintain their health. As a result, they often experienced problems resulting from poor nutrition including tooth and hair loss. Ready access to fresh milk has virtually eliminated these problems for pregnant women today.
MYTH: Babies can be damaged by radiation from computers.
FACT: Computers, microwaves and other household appliances do not produce enough radiation to affect the unborn baby.
MYTH: Expectant mothers should eat for two.
FACT: While this is technically correct, it is worth noting that one of the two weighs less than five pounds throughout most of the pregnancy and does not require the same caloric or nutritional intake as a full grown adult. Eating for two adults can result in obesity and additional complications during pregnancy.
MYTH: It is bad luck to buy clothing or furniture for the baby before it is born.
FACT: This myth seems to have its roots in the high mortality rates for infants experienced in the past in this country and others. For most mothers, picking out baby clothes, strollers and cribs can make pregnancy more fun and exciting; in fact, buying a car seat in advance of the birth is an absolute requirement. Most state laws will not let parents take the baby home without one.
Separating fact from fiction during pregnancy can be a challenging task. For most expectant parents, the primary care physician or midwife can provide reliable, accurate information and dispel myths about pregnancy and delivery.