Since the beginning of time there’s been pregnancy myths. But with the development of science many of these myths are proven to be false.
Many myths sound plausible, while other’s are downright crazy! So why do pregnant women continue to hear pregnancy myths today?
Even though science disproves many myths, superstitions are past down from generation to generation. Some myths are laughable, but other’s lead pregnant women to have false hope and false gender prediction.
So let’s set the record straight about 25 common pregnancy myths that are untrue and sometimes hysterical!
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Pregnancy Myths Not To Believe
1.”You should ‘toughen up’ nipples to prepare for breastfeeding”
I was told this pregnancy myth while I was pregnant with my first son. While I kind of see the logic behind it… Early breastfeeding can be painful and you want to prepare for that early on in pregnancy.
Pregnant women in the past would rub their nipples with a rough washcloth or a loofah sponge. Um, no thank you! This pregnant mama will pass!
During pregnancy, your body is already prepping for breastfeeding a baby. Your areola’s become lumpy and dark in color. Breasts become bigger. You leak colostrum.
These changes are all thanks to raging pregnancy hormones and they also prepare you for the journey of breastfeeding ahead.
2. “Heart rate of the fetus can predict gender early on”
This one is really common. It’s said as early as the first trimester the sex of your baby can be determined by the heart rate.
If the heart rate is above 140 bpm, it’s a girl. Below 140 bpm, it’s a boy.
I can contest that this pregnancy myth is especially untrue. My first born always had a heart rate above 140 bpm and I had a boy. My second child normally runs a heart rate of about 145 bpm and I’m having another boy.
Trust me, I’d love if this old wives’ tale were actually true. But it’s not!
The only way to get an accurate prediction for baby’s gender is by having an ultrasound or through a blood test.
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3. “A mother’s beauty can predict gender”
Some women break out with acne when pregnant. Other women seem to glow.
It’s said that if a mother is experiencing acne or the ‘mask of pregnancy,’ then she is having a girl. The baby girl is essentially ‘stealing’ the mother’s beauty.
It’s a little ridiculous, but many people still believe this. Honestly, it all depends on hormonal changes that cause changes to your face and skin. Not your baby’s gender.
4. “Morning sickness determines gender”
Each pregnancy is different. No amount of morning sickness or absence of it will determine the gender of your baby. Many people believe that being really sick during pregnancy means you’re having a girl.
I was really hoping for this one to be true! This pregnancy has put a whole new meaning to morning sickness for me. But guess what?! I’m having a boy!
My first pregnancy, I had no morning sickness and I had a boy. Now with this pregnancy, I’m sick more often then not and I’m having another boy.
5. “Spicy foods can induce labor”
Unfortunately, there’s no proven way to induce labor (outside of a hospital and Pitocin). Many overdue women will swear by eating spicy foods to induce labor.
I’m actually not doubting them! If I were overdue and miserable and wanted my baby out, I’d do everything I could to induce labor!
However, there is no science to back up pregnancy myths surrounding spicy food and inducing labor. But if you’re overdue, you might as well give it a shot and see what happens!
Beware though, spicy foods can make existing pregnancy symptoms like heartburn worse!
6. “Dyeing you hair during pregnancy will lead to birth defects”
Many women worry about the harmful effects of hair dye during pregnancy. According to the American Pregnancy Association semi-permanent and permanent are not toxic.
Since only a small amount of dye is being absorbed through the skin, there is no threat of birth defects to your baby.
However, some women still worry and that’s ok. If you want to reduce your contact with chemicals during pregnancy, just switch to an all-natural hair dye while you’re pregnant.
7. “More babies are born during a full moon”
Again, there’s no scientific evidence behind this one. Many people swear by a full moon causing a host of problems. Ask any hospital nurse and they’ll probably tell you how much crazier it get’s on nights with a full moon.
Although this superstition is believed my many, science cannot find a link between the lunar effect and an increase in births.
8. “When a pregnant woman looks at an ugly animal, her baby will resemble that animal”
Ok, I added this one because it’s hilarious! This has got to be a very old wives’ tale from the dark ages. Look at any ugly animal you want, I promise your baby won’t come out resembling that animal.
9. “The shape of a pregnant woman’s belly determines the baby’s gender”
Once a pregnant women starts showing, everyone tries to guess the baby’s gender by the shape of the belly.
According to this myth: If you’re having a girl your belly will be more basketball shaped with extra weight around the hips. If you’re having a boy you will carry lower and your bump will be outward more.
Belly size has nothing to do with gender! There are many factors that go into how women carry babies including muscle tone, weight gain and baby’s position in the womb.
10. “Lots of heartburn is an indication your baby will be born with hair”
I don’t know where this one came from, but I heard it during my first pregnancy as well. Obviously I was having a lot of heartburn…
Researchers at John Hopkins University weighed in on this pregnancy myth by examining the amount of newborn hair and its correlation heartburn. The results: Women who reported moderate to severe heartburn during pregnancy gave birth to newborns with more hair compared to mild pregnancy sufferers.
While there is some scientific correlation between heartburn and more baby hair, it’s NOT the heartburn that’s causing extra hair growth.
Instead, pregnancy heartburn is caused by increased progesterone and other hormones that relax the esophagus causing acid reflux.
11. “Pregnant woman should avoid workouts”
No true! Yes, you shouldn’t lift heavy weights you normally wouldn’t lift. While you can start a new workout routine during pregnancy, it’s best to start slow and not over exert yourself.
The American Pregnancy Association suggests pregnant women to exercise at least 3 to 4 days a week for 20 minutes to reap the following benefits:
- Alleviating backaches, constipation and bloating
- Decrease the risk of gestational diabetes
- Increase mood and energy
- Tone and strengthen muscles
- Better sleep
12. “You have to eat for two.”
Although this statement makes sense, it’s not true. You don’t have to eat double of everything in order to supply your baby with what he/she needs. For instance, if you want two scoops of ice cream… Don’t think you need to eat four scoops to feed baby.
While it’s nice to indulge in pregnancy cravings sometimes, they also need to be managed and ignored at times. Just try and eat as healthy as you can and stick by the following rule of thumb with pregnancy and extra calories:
First trimester– No additional calories
Second trimester– 300 to 350 extra calories per day
Third trimester– 500 calories per day
If you’re like me, I tend to underestimate the amount of calories I consume. So to play it safe, take note of what you eat and how many calories it contains.
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13. “You should avoid sushi.”
This is not necessarily true! Many pregnant women shy away from eating sushi, but sushi can be consumed during pregnancy… You should have to maintain some precautions.
- Avoid fish high in mercury
- Only eat sushi with cooked fish
- Eat vegetarian sushi
There are some sources that say you can eat raw sushi as long as the fish has been frozen before defrosted and consumed. Although it’s a common health procedure in restaurants to do this, not every restaurant does.
And if you don’t want to consume raw sushi, you need to make sure that cooked or vegetarian sushi you ordered hasn’t been cross contaminated with raw sushi.
Although if you’re really craving sushi and don’t want to take any risks of raw fish contamination, you could learn to make your own sushi with an at-home sushi kit!
14. “Say goodbye to caffeine.”
Not necessarily! You don’t have to say goodbye to caffeine altogether mama, but caffeine intake does need to be limited.
So how much caffeine can you consume while pregnant? Between 150 to 300 milligrams.
Science can’t seem to agree on whether increased caffeine consumption is linked to increase risk of miscarriage (especially in the first trimester). Although there’s no straight answer, it’s better to stray on the side of caution.
Just to be clear: One cup of coffee or 8 oz. contains around 95 milligrams of caffeine.
That’s not bad! But you need to be aware of other sources of caffeine like tea’s and chocolate.
15. “Cocoa butter prevents stretch marks.”
Cocoa butter is an amazing moisturizer for the skin, but it does not prevent stretch marks. No matter how many times a day you lather it on!
While there are many different lotions, creme’s and butter’s that claim to prevent stretch marks, they’re only moisturizing and decreasing the appearance of stretch marks. Not preventing them.
Stretch marks are all about heredity. If your body has more collagen, your belly is able to stretch more to accommodate baby (without stretch marks).
Think of stretch marks as a source of pride and not something to be embarrassed by. Millions of women have stretch marks! It’s one of the things that proves we worked hard at birthing a human being.
Of course, keeping your belly moisturized will help it stretch and decrease the appearance of stretch marks, so lather up mama!
16. “Avoid cats all together.”
No, show your cat some love. However, don’t clean up cat feces or change a litter box. Cat feces carry a disease called toxoplasmosis that causes birth defects.
So for nine months, let your spouse change the litter boxes.
17. “Colds and flus can be passed on to your baby.”
The most common infections during the first trimester are urinary tract, respiratory and stomach flu infections. Although these can make a pregnant woman feel miserable, these infections are not passed on to baby.
18. “Loud music can damage the baby’s hearing.”
Loud music will not damage your baby’s hearing in the womb. Your baby is surrounded by amniotic fluid that muffles should.
So don’t be afraid to attend that rock concert of your favorite band!
19. “Pregnant women should avoid skincare products.”
You can still continue your normal skincare routine. No need to suffer through with blemishes or stop wearing makeup. Not every pregnant women gets the “pregnancy glow.”
Many women are plagued with acne or what’s known as the ‘mask of pregnancy.’
But it’s always important to check the labels of skincare products anyway. Some ingredients in products have unnecessary chemicals that are considered harmful for you and baby.
Ingredients in skincare products to avoid (if possible):
- Chemical sunscreens
- Formaldehyde (hair straightening treatment, eyelash glue and nail polishes)
- Phthalates (nail polishes and synthetic fragrances)
- Toluene (found in some nail polishes)
While you can’t always avoid all these ingredients in every product, it’s important to recognize harmful ingredients and reduce them the use of those skincare products.
Thankfully, there are many chemical-free alternatives to skincare products you love!
20. “You shouldn’t fly wile pregnant.”
You’ve probably heard this many times over the years. Pregnancy myths like this one come from the misunderstanding about cabin pressure in air planes.
Many people believe that cabin pressure can start labor. However, it’s perfectly safe to fly during pregnancy unless your doctor advises you not too.
If you’re getting toward the end of your pregnancy (full-term of 37 weeks) it is probably safer to avoid flying. You never know when baby might want to make an early appearance!
21. “Pregnant women should sleep on their left side.”
Many believe sleeping on your left side will increase blood flow to the uterus and baby. But there’s not much strong evidence supporting this belief.
Once you reach a certain point in your pregnancy, sleeping on your back will become uncomfortable. But you can sleep on either side you want and even on your back for awhile.
It all depends on your comfort level!
22. “Walking during pregnancy will make labor quicker.”
I’m really disappointed pregnancy myths like this one are not true. I’ll admit… I’d walk for miles if I was sure it would make labor quicker!
There are so many different activities and foods that supposedly start or make labor go quicker. But none of these have really been proven.
However, it doesn’t hurt to walk as much as you want during pregnancy. It will prepare you for the exhaustion of labor and deliver.
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23. “Going outside during an eclipse will cause cleft palate.”
I added this pregnancy myth simple because it’s hilarious!
This myth originally began from Aztec beliefs. Viewing an eclipse while pregnant was thought to result in birth defects such as cleft palate. As you and I know… There’s no danger to a pregnancy because of an eclipse.
Birth defects like cleft palate are caused by genetic and environmental toxins.
Some pregnancy myths are downright funny. But other myths that are still spoken today, come with a bit of damage.
The damage of pregnancy myths is pregnant women feeling guilty or shameful for not abiding by these myths.
When I was pregnant with my first born, I was talking to someone about a recent trip to Seattle I took. In that story, I raved about a sushi restaurant my husband and I tried. The response: “Your pregnant! Your not suppose to be eating sushi!”
Well I did. And I enjoyed that sushi because it was a California roll made with cooked shrimp and crab. I didn’t eat any raw sushi and I watched the chef prepare it right in front of me.
That comment based off of a pregnancy myth really hurt though. I felt ashamed just for eating because it was the right “type” of food someone deems as safe for pregnancy.
Honestly, what you eat during your pregnancy is your own business. Many people jump to conclusions about pregnancy do’s and don’ts because of myths they’ve heard all their lives.
Although it doesn’t make them true!
So the next time your feeling a sense of pregnancy guilt or shame because of a myth, just shrug it off. Do your research and try to eliminate unsafe elements whenever possible.
And above all else… Do what’s best for you and your child and don’t believe every pregnancy myth you hear!