Technology and medicine have transformed the experience of pregnancy for modern
women. Prenatal medical testing can indicate the sex of your child, the amount of
fluid in your uterus, the weight of your baby before birth, and many other things.
Yet, pregnancy continues to inspire its own set of myths and tales — and
parents who wouldn't dream of skipping a prenatal appointment might wonder whether
Great Aunt Sally's predictions about Junior's gender could be on the money.
Why would parents choose to follow pregnancy advice from friends and family that
isn't grounded in medical science?
In many cases, hearing predictions about the baby's sex or how much hair the baby
will have is fun and harmless. In some cases, though, it could be harmful to do what
a pregnancy myth or tale suggests.
You should beware when a myth:
suggests that you contradict your doctor's medical
treatment (such as discontinuing prenatal vitamins)
suggests that you ingest or inhale something that isn't recommended by your doctor
(such as herbs or drugs)
makes you extremely fearful for your baby's health (stress on the mother can be
harmful to the baby)
Common Pregnancy Myths
While pregnancy myths may vary from generation to generation and from region to
region, here are a few of the most common:
Myth: Standing on your head after sex can increase your chances of becoming pregnant.
Fact: Although some experts say that lying down after
sex for 20 to 30 minutes can boost your chances of conception because it keeps the
sperm inside you, standing on your head has not been proven to aid
in conception (and you might hurt your neck while trying to do it!).
Myth: The shape and height of your belly can indicate your baby's
Fact: The popular belief that women carrying boys carry
low and that women carrying girls carry high just isn't true. The shape and height
of your belly is determined by your muscle tone, uterine tone, the amount of
weight you gain, and the position the baby is in. And as a woman who’s pregnant
with either a boy or a girl gets closer to delivery, the baby drops lower into the
pelvis. So, what's the most accurate way to determine
your baby's sex? Talk to your doctor about getting an ultrasound.
Myth: Fetal heart rate can indicate your baby's sex.
Fact: A normal fetal heart rate is between 120 and 160
beats per minute (bpm), although some people think if it's faster (usually above the
140 bpm range) it's a girl and if it's slower it's a boy. But studies don't show that
heart rate is a reliable predictor for a baby's gender. Your baby's heart rate will
probably differ from prenatal visit to prenatal visit anyway — depending on
the age of the fetus and activity level at the time of the visit.
Myth: The shape and fullness of your face during pregnancy can
indicate your baby's sex.
Fact: Every woman gains weight differently during pregnancy,
and every woman experiences different skin
changes. If people tell you that because your face is round and rosy you're having
a girl, they might be right — but it's just as likely that they're wrong!
Seeking the Truth
As you go through your pregnancy, it can be fun to collect and record various people's
tales. However, for medical advice pertaining to pregnancy, you should always consult
your doctor first.
And keep in mind that every woman's pregnancy is different, which means that your
doctor can provide you with information tailored toward your personal medical situation.
That's information that friends, family, and strangers at the mall won't have when
they tell you their pregnancy predictions or advice.
So, enjoy the stories — but talk to your doctor before you do anything that
could affect the health or well-being of you or your baby.