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Buckle up ladies, you’re in for quite a ride. Here are some of the weird and wonderful pregnancy myths I’ve come across in my career as a Midwife and through my own pregnancy.
1 – Your Waters Won’t Break If Bub Has Soft Nails
Huh?.. The first time I heard this one I was supporting a strong Mama through some powerful surges, her waters had not broken yet, which is so normal, and she was asking how long it would be until her baby arrived (also normal).
Her support person told me I’d need to break her waters for her, or the baby won’t come. She went on to tell me this is what happened in her birth because her baby didn’t grow strong enough fingernails to scratch through the membranes. I of course remained composed, yet was trying ever so hard not to giggle at the thought of a little velociraptor baby scratching his way out.
The moral of this story is – educate yourself about possible interventions in labour and birth and their risks/benefits/indications BEFORE being in labour. That way you can truly make informed decisions, and not walk away from birth with a misconception of why intervention occurred.
2 – Heartburn Means You Have A Hairy Baby
Nope. Of course, some women who have very hairy babies suffer heartburn, but so do those with bald babies. Heartburn in pregnancy is caused by hormonal and physical factors.
Think of the displacement your organs go through to accommodate your growing baby, uterus, and placenta in the limited space of your abdominal cavity. Gosh, I sound like I’m the life of a party… this is a super cute and harmless myth. You may as well keep the tradition going and tell your bestie she’s going to have a hairy one.
3 – If Your Waters Break Early, You’re At Risk Of Having A Dry Birth
Truth is – there is no such thing as a ‘dry birth’. This is a totally legitimate question that I’ve heard many times. Some women break their waters during labour, some not right until baby is being born. And some women even break their waters 1-3 days before baby is born, when labour hasn’t started yet. All variations of normal.
If you’re in the latter group, you’re probably wondering what happens to baby if all of your fluid keeps leaking out. Firstly, you won’t just lose all the fluid at once, it leaks out bit by bit, but healthy bubs can also replenish the fluid. This is one of those times that you just need to trust that your body knows exactly what it needs to do to grow and to birth your babies.
4 – Castor Oil Will Put You Into Labour
Some women swear by this – some women have had very embarrassing encounters with it. Drinking castor oil is a pretty sure bet on a date with the porcelain. It is thought to stimulate the uterus, but that is because your bowl gets so stirred up there’s all sorts of cramps going on down there.
If you hear a story about how it worked wonders for one mum, it’s pretty likely that she was very ready to labour on her own anyway. Unfortunately, there is no proven “natural” way to start labour, but that’s a whole other blog post.
5 – You Can Tell A Baby’s Gender By…
OK. So we’ve all heard at least one of these – your bump is sitting high or low, your wedding ring swings around or sideways, you crave certain foods, you have bad morning sickness, baby’s heart rate is higher or lower. All a big fat myth, but harmless fun nonetheless. Well, until some random in line at the coffee shop tells you that you look huge and must be having a big boy. Thanks, Julie from Payroll, my vagina appreciates your concern.
6 – Lunar Loco
I must admit, from about 38 weeks, I totally stood out on my back deck assessing the night sky, wondering if our boy would greet us on a full moon. He didn’t. BUT, even though it is a myth that babies are more likely to come on a full moon, there has to be something anecdotal to this… surely.
Having worked shift work in hospitals prior to Private Practice, and Hubby being a Police Officer, our household FIRMLY believes in the lunar loco. There is something about a full moon that can just about guarantee you a shift from hell. Disclaimer – I have no studies to back that up. It’s just a thing, ok?
7 – Baths Are Dangerous In Pregnancy
Surprisingly, I’ve cared for several women post bathing accidents. Usually, because they’ve slipped and hurt themselves, or swung their leg around too abruptly and hurt their pelvis (which is amazingly softened and moveable in late pregnancy to fit your baby perfectly through your pelvis). I digress. The notion that a bath is dangerous to your baby is a myth.
Yes, if you are in scalding hot water, that’s not good for baby, but I can confidently say most of us have a pretty accurate in-built safety feature where receptors tell our brain ‘too hot’. Stick to what is comfortable, sip cool water, put on your candles and music, and just melt the tension away. You’ve earned it, Mama. Growing babies is tough.
8 – 40 Weeks Is The Sweet Spot
Hands up if you’ve said “I have a feeling I’m going to go early”! Lots of us Mamas say that. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking, perhaps it’s instinct, or perhaps we are trying to will it to be so. Another point of view, is that we are setting ourselves up for disappointment and an emotionally difficult end of pregnancy. It is safe for healthy babies to be born between 37-42 weeks. We are given that magical due date at 40 weeks, which is generally inaccurately calculated anyway. But baby doesn’t get the memo.
Most women won’t birth on their due date, and for first time Mamas, it’s very common for babies to come between 41-42 weeks. Really, you’re technically not overdue until you hit 42 weeks. The same way different animals gestate for different lengths of time, women too differ in their gestation length. If you go through your first pregnancy, expecting to be carrying your baby for 41-42 weeks, you’re more likely to be pleasantly surprised, rather than disappointed that babe wasn’t born by your due date.
We’ve talked a lot in other posts about the power of the mind, and the significant impact positive thought can have on physical outcome. In the final weeks of pregnancy, it’s very likely you’ll be sore all over, full of baby, excited to meet them, and so ready for them to be out. If you’ve had a healthy pregnancy, by anticipating a longer gestation and reassuring yourself that your baby and body know exactly when the right time to labour is, you can create a much more peaceful frame of mind and enjoyable end of pregnancy.
9 – You’re Eating For Two
If only it were so. As someone who struggled with Hyperemesis Gravidarum until 23 weeks, my hormones were raging and I would either be violently ill, or ravenously hungry. I was so starving once, I scoffed down a massive bowl of spaghetti bolognese, promptly spewed it back up, then cried my heart out because I was hungry again. At 15 weeks pregnant, I made my husband wake up at 4am to do a Maccas run with me as we had no food in our hotel room.
No wonder this myth exists. Pregnant women are starving! But the reality is, we should definitely not double everything and eat for two. Your Midwife is the best person to talk to about the right nutritional requirements for you, as every Mama is different.
10 – Exercise In Pregnancy Is Dangerous
This one really takes a sprinkle of common sense, mixed with a dash of knowing your own limits. Exercise in pregnancy is in fact recommended by Midwives. Regular walking, yoga, and swimming are some great examples of light exercise that can support a healthy pregnancy and better labour and birth outcomes.
For women who regularly undertake more intense exercise pre-pregnancy, generally you will be advised to take it easy for the first trimester, but may be safe to return to your normal workout or a modified workout from thereon.
For women who count exercise as walking down the steps to get the mail and throwing the dog toy once (me!), it is advisable to not take on any new intensive exercise, but to establish a regular routine of light exercise.
For all Mamas, always notify your trainer/instructor that you are pregnant, and listen to your body. If it doesn’t feel right – stop.
11 – Sex Could Harm The Baby
Generally, sex is pretty safe in pregnancy. I’m going to generalise on this one because people’s ideas of gentle intercourse vary quite a lot. Be careful, listen to your body, and communicate with your partner. You need to be conscious of finding a position that is comfortable for you.
A ‘post-coital bleed’ is the term used when a Mama has vaginal bleeding after sex. The cervix is very vascular, so a bit of a bleed can occur. It is generally ok, but still very important to get checked out if it does occur.
There are certain situations in which you’ be advised by your Doctor or Midwife not to have sex during pregnancy, such as placenta praevia, and it is important to take that advice.
12 – You’ll Be Super Horny
While we’re on the topic of sex, I’m going to call out this myth. Now I know a lot of Mamas will be thinking ‘pregnancy does make me super horny’. And that’s great. But for a lot of women, it doesn’t.
The sexy earth Mama, pregnancy goddess glow is often masked by the sore boobs (sore everything), nausea, vomiting, swelling, heaviness, exhaustion, headaches, superpower sense of smell, and gas – oh the gas. Throw in some kids if this isn’t your first rodeo and you’ve got yourself a recipe for one hot mess.
It should not worry you if you don’t develop an overwhelming desire to jump your partner.
13 – A Big Bump Means A Big Baby
Wrong. Bump size (most of the time) is a poor indicator of baby’s size. Between the two of us here at The Empowered Mama, I’ve birthed a pretty average 3.5Kg (7lb12oz) baby, despite having a scan of my tiny bump that predicted he’d only be small on the 24th percentile. While Krystal had a smaller 2.9kg baby boy yet had an average sized bump (and a 3.6kg baby girl the second time with the same sized bump!)
It is the go-to small talk of most people when they see a preggo. As if they have memorised the exact size one should be at each week of pregnancy, they say ‘you look big/small for X weeks’.
It may seem petty to people who haven’t carried a miniature human inside of them for the better part of 10 months, with the prospect of having to get said tiny human out. But for a Mama to be, comments about their big bump can cause fear about birth, and comments about a small bump can cause anxiety for their baby’s wellbeing. I would say leave the size comments to the experts, but even we get it wrong.
Pregnancy myths can be amusing and give you a little chuckle, but remember if there’s ever anything you’re worried about, or anything that doesn’t sound quite right to you, check with your Midwife.