A few weeks back, we laid down the logic against some of the most OTT Myths of Conception. Now, we're putting our debunking caps back on to tackle a subject perhaps even more emotionally charged: Pregnancy myths. With anticipations, tensions and hormones at an all time high, it's no wonder that this beginning stage for every mother is such a fertile breeding ground for strange worries and woo. Read ahead and find out the true stories and explanations behind these 8 Myths About Pregnancy...
#1 Backache is an inevitable part of pregnancy
There's a lot of pain prior to labour that one often associates with pregnancy, like nausea and braxton hicks contractions, but the one that always seems to be taken lying down (so to speak) is backache. Whilst the size and heft of your bun in the oven certainly heightens the potential for straining, a few simply changes in poster, clothing and activities can avoid a lot of the soreness. Don't arch your back by pulling your shoulders, avoid wearing shoes with any heel height and, silly as it sounds, squat throughout the day to stretch those tiresome back muscles.
#2 The shape of your stomach can be used to tell gender
We very easily could have filled this entire list with myths surrounding gender prediction. Whilst we won't waste time with that 'swinging ring' or salt malarkey, this one deserves at least a little attention. The idea is that if a woman is 'carrying high' she's got a girl, and if her belly is low then lo and behold, it's a boy. In actuality the shape of the stomach is dependent on muscle size, the structure of her body, position of the foetus and its posture, plus the amount of fat deposited in her abdomen.
#3 When you're pregnant, you should avoid all fish
A slightly less common myth, but one that's starting to carry some traction and is being muddled in the water. The basic proposition is that the high volume of mercury in fish makes it unsafe to eat by pregnant women.
Now the truth in this myth is very nuanced, so we ask that you read very carefully. There are a few types of fish (normally larger or predatory species) that must be avoided because of their high concentrations of mercury; swordfish, shark, tile fish, king mackerel and even chunk white and solid white tuna. However, there are many fish which have very low levels of mercury, and are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that may boost cognitive development, particularly salmon, herring, sardines and anchovies.
#4 Pre-natal diets do nothing for a baby's future eating preferences
This one of the 'reverse myths' that we very much enjoy setting straight. The idea of pregnancy cravings and monstrous diets often leads one to shove off the idea that what you eat during pregnancy may have an effect down the line. The truth, so far as science knows, is that an unborn baby is developing a powerful sense of smell, one that might trigger future dietary tendencies.
Interesting research conducted by biopsychologist Julie Mennella, in which 46 pregnant women took on a different regiment of drinking carrot juice before the birth, after the birth and in both periods found an apparent preference by the newborns for carrot flavours within the first and third control group. This might suggest that prenatal learning about food could help babies get over their initial resistance to healthy foods, or it may even explain unhealthy preferences for junk food. No one knows for sure, but it does suggest that maybe caution shouldn't be thrown out the window when a nasty craving comes along.
#5 Queasiness will end at the first trimester
Aside from morning sickness being just misunderstood in general (it can strike any time of the day, and is named because the sickness comes from a post-sleep empty stomach...), there's a lingering lie that all that unwell-ness disappears after the first eight weeks. Whilst this may yield the peak time for such suffering, some feel it well on into their second trimester. It's worth remembering that nausea and vomiting are signs of a healthy pregnancy, and that you can ease that queasiness by avoiding odours or foods that will make it bubble up, or you can munch of high-carbohydrate snack products.
#6 Having heartburn means your baby will have lots of hair
This is a weird myth that we can't believe anyone would take seriously, and yet it keeps cropping up. Heartburn is rather common in pregnant women; a strong burning pain in the chest caused by stomach acid passing from the stomach to your oesophagus. Your hormonal changes, a growing womb pressing on your stomach and other such things trigger this condition more-so than usual, but certainly your baby's body hair isn't a factor. If the pain is getting a bit much, check out the NHS page on pregnancy heartburn for the best ways to find relief.
#7 First babies are always late
Whilst the majority certainly favours this myth, to call it a sure-fire thing that your little one will arrive later than expected if they're first in line goes a bit far, to say the least. What it really has to do with is your menstrual cycle; if it is shorter, then there's more chance of an early pregnancy, and if it usually lasts 28 days, you'll deliver closer to your due date. Simple.
#8 The Full moon can induce labour
If you happen to be the mother of Teen Wolf, we still don't think the science holds up here! Even when the myth state that there is a correlation between the height of the lunar cycle and the beginnings of labour, it's still bunk! If your baby decides it wants to debut on the night of the full moon, then take it as an amusing pregnancy anecdote, but not a sign that they are celestially inclined.
What's the weirdest pregnancy myth you've heard? Are there any that you think may actually not be so farfetched? Let us know in the comments, and you can also message us on Facebook, through Twitter or via Google+.