"Pregnancy myths" are false tales commonly circulated as "facts", and while some can be potentially dangerous to your health as well as that of your baby if followed, most tend to be harmless and even amusing.
Regardless of the type of advice you get from well-meaning friends or family members, it is always a good idea to consult with your doctor before taking action. Below are 10 of the more common pregnancy myths that you may come across.
You Carry High for Girls and Low for Boys
Many women believe that low and heavy-looking bellies indicate that they are pregnant with a boy, while lifted or "high" bellies mean the baby is a girl. The truth is, how you carry your baby all depends on your stomach's muscle tone, the uterine tone and the position your baby is in, and has nothing to do with the baby's sex.
Eat for Two
While it's true you should adjust your daily calorie intake now that you're pregnant, keep in mind that you're not eating for two adults. On average, expectant mothers need approximately 300 extra calories each day if they are of normal weight when they conceive. Overweight mothers should probably not add more calories to their diet, and might even have to lose some weight if they want a healthy pregnancy. Check with your doctor for more details.
Raising Your Arms Above Your Head is Dangerous
Another old wives' tale is that raising your arms above your head can entangle your baby's umbilical cord. This is entirely false, as umbilical cord entanglement is not something that can be caused by the mother's actions but is the result of fetal activity during early pregnancy.
Breastfeeding a Toddler Deprives Your Baby of Nourishment
Breastfeeding your toddler should not be a problem if you are healthy. The only situations where it could pose any problems to your fetus are if you're malnourished, underweight or at risk of pre-term labor.
You Face Shape and fullness are Indicators of the Baby's Sex
Some believe that the mother's face shape and fullness can indicate whether she's pregnant with a boy or girl, which of course is a baseless assumption. Having a full face and a rosy complexion could as much mean that you are pregnant with a girl as with a boy.
If You Have Heartburn Your Baby Will Have a Lot of Hair
This is a common old wives tale; heartburn is caused by the baby pressing against the mother's stomach and pushing stomach acids into the esophagus. Heartburn has nothing to do with how much hair the baby has.
The Fetus's Sex Can Be Determined by Its Heart Rate
Even though girls' heart beat rate is usually faster than that of boys, while in the womb both girls and boys have similar heart rates. It is only after the onset of labor that a baby girl's heart rate becomes faster than her male counterpart's.
Pregnant Women Shouldn't Exercise
Again, not true. Expectant mothers are actually encouraged to take up a carefully chosen pregnancy exercise program under the guidance of their doctors, as it keeps them in good shape, helps ease the labor process, and enables them to regain their pre-pregnancy physique faster.
Scratching Whilst Pregnant Will Give You Stretch Marks
Some people believe that scratching will give you stretch marks, however stretch marks are hereditary and nothing that a mother does or does not do will prevent her from getting them. If you want to try and reduce the possibility of their development, you should drink plenty of fluids and eat foods that are high in good fats and Omega 3s. Lotions that contain natural ingredients can also help diminish the appearance of stretch marks. Nonetheless, scratching will not contribute to the development of stretch marks.
Sleeping on Your Back Hurts the Baby
This is only true if the mother is experiencing difficult or premature labor, "labor" being the defining word in this case. As for sleeping on your back during a normal pregnancy, there should be no problem at all; you should sleep in any position that makes you comfortable.