Pregnancy can be a time of utmost joy for both old mothers and new, but it can also be a period of anxiety and stress, especially with the existing myths/superstitions/beliefs revolving around pregnancy. Here are some of the most common pregnancy beliefs and the truths behind them.
Myth 1: The shape of your belly determines the baby’s gender
This is perhaps one of the most common belief when it comes to pregnancy, that if a woman carries a boy it will show from her low belly, and if she carries a girl she will have a high belly. While some people go on about how this used to be the method of foretelling the baby’s gender before ultrasound existed, medical professionals suggest it’s purely mythical. According to Eileen Beard, a senior practicing advisor for the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the way a woman carries her baby mostly depends on the tone of muscles, the position the baby is in, the mother’s body shape and how much weight she gains during the pregnancy.
Myth 2: A woman’s cravings (also) determines the baby’s gender
It’s widely believed that if a woman craves for sweet indulgences such as cakes, chocolates or even dairy products, chances are she is carrying a girl. Similarly, if she craves for salty, spicy or foods in high protein during her pregnancy, she’s most likely to be carrying a boy. This is a popular old wives’ tale, and there has yet to be any scientific evidence that links a mother’s cravings to the gender of her baby. The cravings are most likely occurring due to the hormonal changes during pregnancy, without any relation to the baby. Plus, who needs to keep track of their cravings when they could just go for ultrasounds?
Myth 3: A pregnant woman is eating for two
Contrary to this belief, Dr Irene Miguel-Aliaga, a researcher from MRC Clinical Science Centre at Imperial has suggested that our digestive system is already well-equipped and ready to take on the demands a growing baby places upon their mothers’ bodies, and therefore “eating for two” is actually unnecessary. In fact, this practice could very well be the culprit as to why some women find it really difficult to lose weight after delivering.
Myth 4: Alcohol consumption during pregnancy is a complete no-no
Compared to the rest, this isn’t quite a myth. Mothers who drink while being pregnant are at a high risk of causing fetal alcohol syndrome to their babies, a condition where a child suffers from physical and mental damage due to alcohol exposure while in the womb.
Having said that, while it’s generally advised that women should stay away from any form of alcohol consumption during their entire pregnancy, a new study has suggested that a glass of wine or two a week may actually be safe. The study was done on a bunch of kindergarteners whose mothers lightly drank while being pregnant with them, and surprisingly – it was found that these children performed slightly better in cognitive tests than children whose mothers had abstained from alcohol during pregnancy.
Regardless, most medical opinion still stand by the argument that drinking during pregnancy is dangerous, because this study only indicates that “very low” alcohol intake is unlikely to cause problems.
Myth 5: Caffeine consumption during pregnancy is (also) a complete no-no
It’s commonly believed that caffeine intake can increase the chances of miscarriage or preterm birth, but the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have stated that moderate coffee intake (less than 200 mg a day) will not be risky for expecting mothers. If they need their daily dose of caffeine, it’s okay to consume one cup (or two cups of black) coffee a day, pregnancy loss expert Sami Davis says.
Myth 6: Sex, spicy foods and walking will induce labour
Women may try to find ways to induce labour during the last few days or weeks of pregnancy where things are getting emotionally, mentally and physically challenging for them. While some medical doctors would suggest that sexual intercourse would induce it, specifically because it combines the effects of prostaglandins and oxytocin (which are both necessary for labour), other doctors feel that there’s no correlation between doing the deed and bringing on labour. Same goes with eating spicy foods or walking. There has been no proven non-medical ways to do this yet, so most of these practices are still considered myths.
Myth 7: Colouring your hair will affect your baby
Hair dyes are generally believed to be harmful to the baby due to the high levels of chemicals which may be absorbed into the mother’s scalp. The truth is, however, that only a very small amount is absorbed by the skin, and this will not affect the baby. Regardless, if they are still worried about it, pregnant women can definitely opt for other options such as using henna, putting highlights on the hair or using semi-permanent hair dyes which contain much less chemicals.
Myth 8: Eating ghee will ease delivery
Consumption of ghee might sound a little disgusting, but it is actually considered a very good medicinal food in ancient Ayurvedic medicine. It’s believed to induce labour and start pre-labour contractions, but no scientific research is available to back this up. However, it’s important to remember that ghee is a type of saturated fat. While it may be a pretty common practice especially for Asian mothers, too much of it can be dangerous for health (and will definitely add on to the weight that you’ll need to lose after delivery).
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