Top ten pregnancy myths and legends

Don’t believe everything you hear – there are all kinds of crazy pregnancy tales that just aren’t true.

If there’s one thing there is far too much of during pregnancy, it’s advice! There are so many old wives’ tales about pregnancy, and everyone wants to share them. We give you some insight into these myths and legends.

Baby’s gender
It is untrue that you can determine your baby's gender by adopting specific positions during sex. The gender of your baby is determined solely by the male and whether the sperm that fertilises the egg is carrying an X or Y chromosome. So no need to twist yourself into knots! Fertility specialist Dr Paul Le Roux shed a little more light on this myth. “There is actually a scientific way to choose the gender of a child via IVF and genetic testing of embryos (PGD),” he says. “It has met with controversy worldwide, and was banned in South Africa from 2012 when the Regulations for the National Health Act law was passed.”

Arms above your head
The myth goes that if you raise your arms above your head while pregnant, the baby will get the umbilicalcord wrapped around their neck. This is not true: it is the baby's activity in the womb that can cause the cord to wrap around their neck, not the mother's activities.
Heartburn and hair
Have you heard that if you have a lot of heartburn, your baby will have a lot of hair? It turns out the two issues are completely unrelated. Many children are born with a headful of hair – it is purely genetic.Heartburn is common during pregnancy because, as the stomach is pushed higher by the expanding uterus, it becomes easier for acid to "reflux" from the stomach into the lower oesophagus, which causes heartburn.

No sleeping on your back
This is only true towards the end of pregnancy, when the uterus and the baby may be large enough to press on the inferior vena cava, and reducethe flow of blood from the lower body back to the heart. Lying on the left side may help, but during the early stages of pregnancy you can sleep in any position you find comfortable.

Avoid sex and exercise
There is no reason to avoid exercise or sex during pregnancy unless you have complications. The baby is protected in the uterus, so sex during pregnancy is completely safe, and there are many ways to stay active throughout your pregnancy. Regular moderate exercise is one of the best things you can do for the health of your baby.

Don’t touch your cat
Handlingcat’s stool and catlitter is dangerous for pregnant women because of the parasite toxoplasmosis that is found in it. But you can still feed, touch and pet your cat as normal. Just get your partner to do the dirty work!

Avoid all radiation
While unnecessary radiation exposure should generally be avoided, if you need to have an X-ray during pregnancy, the amount of radiation exposure to the baby is minimal. There is also no evidence that microwave ovens or computer terminals expose babies in the womb to dangerous levels of radiation.

Don't take a bath
It is not true that by taking a bath you can contract an infection that can spread from the vagina into the womb. A warm bath can be very relaxing, especially if you’re suffering from back pain.

Steer clear of spicy foods
For a routine pregnancy, as long as you eat a well-balanced diet, there is no evidence that spicy food has an effect on early labour.

Avoid bumpy car rides
Minor bumps on a car journey are highly unlikely to trigger labour. The uterus and amniotic fluid provide ample cushioning and protection from minor trauma. Of course, major injury may induce early labour, but driving down a dirt road is no problem at all.

You may hear many of these myths during your pregnancy. Although some of them contain an element of truth, most have simply been passed down from generation to generation without any proof. What strange myths have you heard during your pregnancy?
BabyGroup says…
This article has been checked by Dr Paul Le Roux, Fertility Specialist. A member of the BabyGroup Medical Council.

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