Before and during pregnancy, women are told a fair share of myths surrounding pregnancy and child bearing. Apart from strangers being obsessed with your baby bump and wanting to touch your tummy, they’re are also more than happy to impart strange beliefs about your pregnancy – such as, -You are carrying in front therefore it must be a boy!
Most of these stories that are imparted have their origins in old wives’ tales, and these -gems’ of knowledge have been passed down from generation to generation, from mothers to daughters.
Is there any truth in these stories and which of these tales are completely incorrect?
- A common tale that is told to pregnant women is that they should be eating for two! The reality is that pregnant women should only be eating for one, and even though it may be very tempting to tuck into two ice-creams in one sitting – women who want to have a healthy labour and who want to give birth to a baby with a healthy birth weight should rather stick to eating for one. Although those chocolate-coated ice-creams look deliciously tempting, expecting ladies should rather indulge in healthy foods and instead of eating two meals in one sitting, portions can be smaller and the soon-to-be mum can enjoy smaller, healthy snacks throughout the day. If you really want that decadent chocolate bar – don’t deny yourself, but try not to eat the whole thing in one go and don’t eat one for baby!
- Many well-meaning relatives or friends often pass comment on the shape and fullness of a woman’s face during pregnancy and believe that the fullness or the shape of the face is a good indicator of the baby’s sex. The truth is that women gain weight differently during pregnancy and experience a variety of skin changes. If you are told that your face is looking round and rosy and you must be carrying a girl, the chances are good that the predictor’s fortune-telling skills will be spot on – but when the odds are 50/50 – it’s not a difficult guess. The shape or fullness of a woman’s face is not linked to the baby’s sex in any way.
- One pregnancy myth is that having no morning sickness means that the baby is a boy. The truth about morning sickness is that only half of all pregnant women experience some degree of morning sickness. The myth may have started because it was thought that women carrying boys were protected from morning sickness because of the male hormone testosterone. Medical professionals believe that the hormone relaxin that is produced by the mother is responsible for the waves of nausea. Relaxin relaxes the joints in the pelvis so the baby is able to pass through the birth canal. There is little evidence to prove that testosterone prevents morning sickness or is able to counteract the effects of the hormone relaxin.
- Another myth is that a woman’s shoe size predicts the need for the woman to have a c-section. For some reason it’s thought that a woman’s shoe size or the size of her feet is a good pointer as to whether or not she will be a candidate for natural birth or if she will require a c-section. This untruth is based on the fact that the size of the shoe indicates the size of the woman’s pelvic opening, and if the pelvis is able to accommodate the baby. This belief is a myth and there is no way that the size of a woman’s foot or her shoe can predict the probability of a c-section or that of a vaginal birth. If this was the case, women who wear a size 2 or 3 shoe would instantly be booked in for c-sections!
Besides the tales about pregnancy and the predictions about the unborn baby’s gender, there are many bizarre tales and untruths about how to avoid or prevent pregnancy.
- The early withdrawal or -pulling out’ method has been spread around the globe for centuries. This pregnancy untruth is not a whole lie. The truth behind this myth is that most of the sperm that a man secretes during intercourse is indeed present in the ejaculate, but there is still a small amount of sperm that is found in the lubricating fluid that the male’s body produces prior to the actual act of intercourse. Even this small amount of sperm can result in pregnancy!
- A woman cannot fall pregnant if she has intercourse when she is menstruating. All women’s menstrual cycles are different and some women’s cycles are erratic especially in adolescence and in women who have hormonal fluctuations. There is no -safe’ time when a woman can have unprotected intercourse and not risk conception.
- Many young women are of the belief that conception will not occur if it’s their very first sexual encounter. There is no valid reasoning for this untruth and it should never be considered accurate. A young girl does not even have to experience her first period to fall pregnant. Falling pregnant relates to ovulation and since a girl can ovulate before having her first period, it’s not impossible to fall pregnant before starting to menstruate. At any time when unprotected sex is practiced, a woman can fall pregnant.
If you think that the pregnancy untruths end after the birth of a baby – think again. You may hear just as many strange and bizarre stories involving your newborn baby or what you should or shouldn’t do after the birth.
Some cultures believe that it’s not healthy for a new mother and her newborn infant to go out for the first 40 days after the birth. As such, mom and baby are kept indoors and the belief is that if they venture out either may catch cold and fall ill. Staying indoors and being deprived of fresh air and sunlight is unhealthy and this will increase the risk of infection. Staying indoors but in a properly ventilated is far better but there is no harm in taking the infant outdoors, if the baby is healthy. There is also no harm in welcoming visitors into your home.
If you’re expecting or have just given birth, be wary of some of the tales you’ll hear.