Old Wives Tales About Pregnancy

When it comes to old wives tales, pregnancy has to be one of the most popular subjects. There seems to be an endless list of old wives tales about pregnancy. These pregnancy myths range from fun tricks to deduce the gender of your baby to weird or even terrifying tidbits about what to do or not do during pregnancy. While many are harmless, some of these can be needlessly upsetting or even spread false information that could be detrimental to you and your baby. In the interest of putting everyone’s mind at ease, let’s have a look at some old wives tales.

All in Good Fun

Some pregnancy myths are the things that Baby Shower Games are made of. Overall, these are just good fun, but there is no scientific evidence to back any of them. Let’s start with some of the “tips” for determining whether your child will be a boy or girl.

  • Carrying High = Girl, Carrying Low = Boy
  • Are your hands dry? It’s a Boy
  • If you won’t eat the heel of a loaf of bread, it’s a girl
  • Tie your wedding ring to a piece of string & hang it over your belly. If it swings in a circle, it’s a boy; back and forth means it’s a girl.
  • If your baby’s heart rate is under 140 beats per minute, it’s a boy; if it’s over, it’s a girl.
  • Sweet Cravings = Girl, Salty Cravings = Boy

…and the list goes on. Other old wives tales about pregnancy include fun ways to explain your symptoms, like “if you have heartburn, your baby will have lots of hair.” Inaccurate information, but all in good fun. Then there is the laundry list of things that might induce labor, like:

  • Taking a walk
  • Drinking herbal tea
  • Drinking castor oil
  • Using a laxative
  • Exercise
  • Sex
  • Being frightened

The only one of these claims with any sort of scientific backing is having sex, a substance found in sperm may help to induce contractions. Otherwise, lay off the castor oil.

Strange and Inaccurate

While some pregnancy myths are innocuous, some are downright unnecessary or unhelpful. Let’s start with the “things to avoid” that have no bearing in reality:

  • Taking a bath can drown your baby – False, just avoid water over 98º and hot tubs and you and your baby will be just fine.
  • Cats have a natural urge to smother babies – False, and really, just ridiculous.
  • Stretching your arms above your head can cause the umbilical cord to strangle the baby – False, but do talk with your doctor about helpful stretches and stretches to avoid
  • Wearing high heels will result in a cross-eyed baby – False, and absurd.
  • Looking at a mouse will result in a hairy birthmark for your baby – False, seriously, who comes up with these?
  • If you eat strawberries, your baby will have a big red splotch on their skin – False, but do consume your berries responsibly.

Now, here are some that just flat out spread misinformation:

  • Food cravings are based on vitamins and minerals your body needs, ie. “Craving ice cream means I need calcium” – False, take your daily prenatal vitamin and indulge your cravings responsibly and in moderation.
  • Food cravings are based on things your baby wants – False, this logic can lead to overeating and gaining too much weight.
  • Drinking milk will stimulate breast milk – False, but do stay hydrated.
  • You can’t get pregnant while nursing – Mostly false. Talk with your doctor about effective birth control after your baby arrives.

While many old wives tales about pregnancy are well-meaning, most are just complete nonsense. There is already so much to do and consider and remember when you are pregnant, why add anything unnecessary to that list? With that said, always take any questions or concerns you may have to your doctor.