Believe it or not, many people have myths about pregnancy, even your own family might have pregnancy myths. Once you've spread the news that you're pregnant, don't be surprised if family, friends and even strangers start giving you homespun advice based on their own myths about pregnancy.
The truth is, pregnancy is rife with Old Wives' tales that have been passed from generation to generation.
Here are some of the most common myths which, while entertaining, are not at all true, say Drs. Joanne Stone and Keith Eddleman, partners in the division of maternal-fetal medicine at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, and authors of the book Pregnancy For Dummies.™
- The Spicy Food Fraud Spicy food will bring on labor. "For the most part, pregnant women can eat just about anything, but there are certain foods that we tell them to look out for, or to try and avoid," says Dr. Stone. Those include very soft cheeses, unpasteurized cheeses and raw-milk cheese. Though rare, they may contain a bacteria called lysteria that has been associated with miscarriage or pre-term labor.
- The Fetal Heart Rate Fallacy If your baby's heart is low, you're carrying a boy. If it's high, it's a girl.
- The You-Can't-Be-Too Careful Yarn If a pregnant woman raises her hands above her head, she'll choke her baby.
- The Steamy Sex Superstition Making mad, passionate love will induce labor. "Sex is not going to cause you to go into labor, but we tell people to go ahead anyway," says Dr. Stone. "It's worth trying."
- The Old Heartburn Harangue If a pregnant woman has frequent heartburn, her baby will have a full head of hair.
- The Sty-in-the-Eye-Lie Those who deny a pregnant woman the food she craves will get a sty in their eye.
- The Ugly Stick Trick If a pregnant woman sees something ugly or horrible, her baby will be ugly. "That one's wrong on two counts — one is there's no scientific evidence, but number two is that there's no such thing as an ugly baby," says Dr. Eddleman.
- The Old Java Jive A baby born with light brown birthmarks (known as cafe au lait spots), the mother drank too much coffee or had unfulfilled cravings during her pregnancy. Again, a myth!
- The Gender Bender If a pregnant woman's face breaks out, she is carrying a girl who will steal all of her mother's beauty. Says Dr. Stone: "The thing about it is that it's so chauvinistic — why is it that a girl's going to steal her mother's beauty? — anyway, it's not true, it's ridiculous.
- The Poor Complexion ConnectionA woman who carries wide, is having a girl. A woman who carried forward, is having a boy. "It's a common myth, but it's not true," says Dr. Eddleman.
During pregnancy, the best strategy is to "take advice from friends with a grain of salt," says Dr. Eddleman, who adds, "but when it comes to the advice from your doctor you should really listen up."