When a woman becomes pregnant suddenly every woman who has ever had a baby, or even seen a baby wants to offer some form of help and advice. It’s a nice intention, but in truth most of the pieces of wisdom that pass their lips are actually pieces of negative nonsense, founded in the most bizarre old wives tales or false information from the dark ages.
Pregnancy seems to bring out the superstitious in everyone and our friends and relatives can say things that have us confused in the day, but secretly panicking in the night and wondering if we really shouldn’t try placing that wrapped coin on our growing bellies under an eclipsed moon... just in case it really will protect our baby in the future.
Every single soon to be parent wants to protect their unborn baby and unfortunately, most of the myths that are passed down from generation to generation are based in what NOT to do and the horrible things that can happen if you do them. The biggest advice new parents should listen to is NOT to listen and NOT to believe everything a well meaning relative suggests.
Rather, listen for the good stuff, the encouraging support, the knowledge that a lot of women have incredible pregnancies and labours, but their stories are left untold because they don’t have enough drama and remember, there’s a lot of healthy kids in this world, surely every one of their parents didn’t listen to the craziness your grandma just told you!
But still, during pregnancy we are vulnerable and no matter how we can tell ourselves NOT to listen to something, in truth the fear can creep in and the idea of the safety of our baby and things beyond our control can have us screaming into our pillows.
Luckily we live in the internet age when the truth about some of our helpful relatives’ pieces of advice can be debunked right away. It’s a good idea to Google any suggestions that are feeling off to you as there’s no point worrying in the dark. But here’s a list of the top 10 well meaning, yet unfounded advice NOT to listen to from family members to get you started:
#1- Pile up that plate, because you’re eating for two
Whoa. You aren’t eating for two, because you’re not growing a full size person inside of you. For the first few months of pregnancy you actually don’t have to intake any more calories according to the UK site babycentre.co.uk.
Your body has kicked into high efficiency mode and loving it. Later on a mere 200-300 extra calories a day are all you need. A healthy pregnancy diet should be based in a nutrient rich diet of lots of leafy greens and vegetables, low in sugar and full of healthy proteins and complex carbs.
So when you find you’re being ladled out that massive helping of mashed potatoes, or even worse being dealt out the biggest slice of chocolate cake, simply put the plate in the middle of the table and tell everyone to help themselves. The overbearing mother in law might as well know that you are pregnant and growing a baby, not storing food for a Canadian winter.
A healthy pregnancy is our bodies’ natural function, so if we treat our bodies well, it can produce a baby well. Tell that mother-in-law that you actually need little meals throughout the day which helps digestion rather than 3 big meals, or one massive meal, which slows you down with that after Christmas dinner feeling, after all surely she remembers that a pregnant woman’s stomach starts to get a little squished up as the months progress.
A good pregnancy diet consists of:
- Vegetables and Fruits- Not only are they full of vitamins and important nutrients which support and create a healthy pregnancy, but they are easy to digest and provide good fibre so that you void constipation, one of the worst conditions in pregnancy. Leafy greens, such as kale, are a pregnant woman’s best friend, being a great source of vitamin K, calcium, magnesium and B vitamins all in their natural forms so they are easy to absorb.
- Protein -In simple terms protein builds, so having a good protein intake is important for a healthy pregnancy and build a baby (although all foods have some level of protein). Meat is the obvious choice, but can be constipating and hard to digest, so opt for fish, poultry, nuts, seeds, and eggs. The greatest most natural source of protein is Hemp Seeds, which are a complete protein and a source of healthy fatty acids, which help baby’s brain grow.
- Carbs- Don’t let the no carbs fad influence your pregnancy diet. Carbs provide energy, which your body is using a lot of, but again, don’t grab that donut. Healthy, complex carbs are things like rice, potatoes, grains. Simple carbs, like processed sugar and flours are converted into sugar too quickly and spike your sugar levels. So keep the carbs to things that need some prep and cooking time, not processed bakery goods.
8 #- Don’t have sex or exercise (or move for that matter) during pregnancy
Exercise and movement is part of a healthy pregnancy. Actually pregnant women have been moving for years. Going to bed right after that positive pregnancy test kind of dwindled out when maids and a full time staff became a thing of the past... and pregnancy health has been on a rise ever since (unless you are bed ridden for medical reasons of course.)
Keeping your body fit with movement, will not only keep you in good shape for when the big day comes, but it will also keep you feeling more positive about how you feel physically as well as mentally.
So grab a walk, check out that pregnancy yoga class or go for a swim. As for sex, well it’s been shown to produce healthy hormones for both pregnancy and for birth, its healthy exercise and it creates a closer bond between you and your partner. You won’t feel like it much after baby arrives so take advantage of it nine months before!
Some of the best exercises for pregnancy are:
- Walking- A non-strenuous cardiovascular workout, that you can take at your own pace, anytime, anywhere and it even takes you places! Walking can also boost mental and emotional health as it gets you out and about, interacting with people and with the beautiful world around you.
- Swimming. Swimming is one of the safest and most comfortable forms of exercise during pregnancy as you feel weightless and yet can be offering your muscles important stretches at the same time.
- Yoga- prenatal yoga classes, and prenatal yoga at home, provides stretches and movements that are incredibly beneficial for pregnancy increasing flexibility and circulation which will help in labour as well.
7 #Buy some Pink if you suffer from morning sickness, you’re having a girl
Well, this one is right 50% of the time! There is no clinical proof that severity of morning sickness has anything to do with gender and no, if you have it with one pregnancy it doesn’t mean you’ll have it for every subsequent ones.
Eating some bland foods first thing in the morning can help, as well as not letting yourself get hungry by just eating a little bit through the day. Yes, THROUGH the day- Morning sickness doesn’t just happen in the morning!
Also, it can be a comfort to know that it is actually a sign of a healthy pregnancy, which can calm the nerves of not only the mother to be, but the grandma to be who might be calling the ambulance every time you turn slightly green.
Remember, friends will look for any indicator of what the sex of your baby is going to be, morning sickness is just one of them. But it’s just that they are trying to figure out what to buy for the baby shower or to feel like they are somehow part of your pregnancy journey.
So if you love them, let them guess, let them take needles or rings and hold them over your ever growing bump to see if it spins or sways (spinning it’s a girl), let them buy you pink frilly things, or even talk about how “her” kicks means she’ll be strong willed, but not when you are feeling sick to your stomach.
Tell them to talk to you after the first trimester, when things settle a bit.
Oh yes, and to cover one other morning sickness myth- a glass of beer every morning is not a cure even if a family member swears by it. Actually if they do mention it, smile, nod and back slowly away.
6 #- Don’t hang up laundry or raise your arms over your head as it will cause the umbilical cord to wrap around the baby’s neck.
It is amazing how many pregnant women get told this and then spend nine months quietly keeping their arms pressed against their sides.... just in case. Trying to go through one day without raising your arms has you walking around like a penguin, using broom handles to knock off things from a top shelf, or precariously climbing up things to simply pull the chain on a ceiling fan or just haunted with guilt if you accidently forget and raise your hand to bid at an auction.
Although it’s a good way to get your partner to hang up the laundry and put away everything that needs putting away above your shoulders, really he should be getting ready to be putting away anything that needs picking up. Bending down is the more common challenge.
But seriously, sometimes babies are delivered with the cord around their neck, which is usually eased off as they are being born, and this can occur for a number of reasons, mostly due to the baby’s constant movement in the womb. None of the reasons are proven to be because you hung up Christmas decorations or laundry.
Now, some things you should avoid doing during pregnancy and not because you might raise your arms:
- - Rock Climbing
- - Bungee jumping
- - Parachuting
- - Surfing
- - Downhill ski-ing
- - Hand gliding
5 #- Going out on a full moon can trigger early labour.
And so can bumpy car rides, spicy foods, sex and stormy weather.... supposedly.
Can you imagine what would happen if you went on a date on the night of a full moon, in an old car, down a back road and then a storm hit while you were out?
No. Some people might try spicy foods or sex to help spur on a late labor, with often little affect, and yes car accidents or severe trauma, can bring on complications... but bad roads or bad shock absorbers are not to be worried about. And stormy weather is just a storm in a tea cup for your little one who is surrounded by a protected environment and perfectly safe.
A woman can also be told not to tell people about being pregnant too soon in the pregnancy or buy things for the baby before the final trimester so as not to push their luck. Life is full of mysteries and whether a pregnancy sees full term or not is usually not the mother’s fault and quite frankly, never because you were so excited about your new arrival you wanted to scream it from the rooftops. Alright, Rooftops might be something you DO want to avoid right now.
Listening to the fearful rants of people’s don’t do lists will take away any sense of enjoyment pregnancy can offer and truly drive you crazy. Trust your baby’s experience and trust your body (remember you breathe without thinking about it and your heart beats without you telling it to. Otherwise, if you do listen to the madness, you’ll be:
- - Locked in your house with the curtains drawn every month during a full moon
- - Taking hours to get anywhere because you would have to drive really slow to avoid any potholes
- - Live on toast and butter, in case food with flavour will trigger early labour
- - Only go out when the sky is clear, in case of a storm hitting when you are out.
- - Basically, curled up in bed with the blankets over your head... but then feeling guilty as you know you need to exercise and move for a healthy pregnancy.
4 #If you have a lot of heartburn, your baby has a lot of hair.
Just to get this clear, your baby’s hair is not tickling your stomach. There is a lot of layers and fluid between your baby and your vital organs.
Generally, heartburn is caused by overeating or eating too fast, especially highly acidic foods like processed foods or meat. It’s common in pregnancy because we produce more of the hormone that relaxes muscles and in turn it relaxes the muscular valve between the stomach and esophagus, basically allowing stomach gases to come back up.
Eating slowly helps, and like I mentioned before, small meals periodically through the day, rather than massive meals 3 times a day. Grab some fresh veggies instead and citric fruits like lemon, oranges and grapefruits. Make sure you chew your food well, creating healthy enzymes to help digest it before it even hits your stomach.
Also, remember that your stomach is being pressed up against your ribs because someone is growing below it. Big meals don’t have a lot of room to be processed and hard to digest foods like processed food or meats and dairy are going to take a lot longer to be broken down and digested.
If people ask why you look so uncomfortable don’t be shy and hide from the fact that you are using your body for a lot of different functions at the moment. A huge amount of energy goes to digesting our food, using that energy for producing a baby is going to make food intake all the more complicated.
3 #- Don’t sleep on your back and only sleep on your left side.
There is some proof that sleeping on your left side can increase circulation to the uterus, but your body knows what position it finds the most comfortable and you will probably end up in that position when you are in a state of REM anyway.
Sleep is the main goal here, quality comfortable rest and sleep. Not only is this one of the last chances you will have for a few years of uninterrupted sleep, but you also need the extra zzzz’s to use your energy on providing your ever growing baby with everything they need to grow and develop healthily.
It doesn’t have to be a 12 hours stretch either. Much like eating small meals more frequently, consider taking small naps and rests throughout the day. If you’re tired, don’t prolong bedtime, sneak in a half hour cat nap. You’ll feel all the better for it. Tiredness is your body’s way of telling you what it needs.
If those family members or partners keep telling you HOW to sleep don’t worry, chances are lying on your back won’t feel that good by the time you get into third trimester... and of course, lying on your front is an impossibility, so you are really only left with either side anyway. Of course you could simply tell them you would rather sleep
- - Standing up
- - In a yoga pose
- - Suspended in mid air
- - Upside down
2 #If you are overdue, Eat a whole Pineapple.
Only if you are hungry, or are on a deserted island that only has pineapples.
It seems a general belief that high fibre foods help with jumpstarting labour and giving baby that little nudge. But really, your child isn’t in your intestinal tract. Yes, even some doctors may suggest castor oil to speed things up as it relaxes your... lower muscles, but this needs to be done with great care as it can cause complications in the long run and it will be a different kind of pain you’ll be experiencing as you run for the bathroom.
But if you think it sounds crazy to use your intestinal tract as a labour launcher, in the middle ages women were encouraged to sniff up pepper to stimulate sneezing (to sneeze the baby out) or to eat butter with special baby producing words carved into it.
Remember your estimation date isn’t your expiration date and although you are getting anxious to see your newborn, sometimes they just need a bit more time. Healthy exercise and eating right as well as relaxing and focusing on something else entirely, trusting your body and your baby know what they are doing is the way to a stress free, healthy and relaxed delivery.
Now if you want to try digesting food that would stimulate labour you could be the first to test out these suggestions:
- - Lots of bananas or the peels perhaps. To slip the baby out
- - Ice, which is also slippery
- - Or maybe just drink a lot of water... to create a flushing effect.
I’d probably suggest not.
1 #If you don’t eat what you crave your baby will have birthmarks wherever you scratch yourself.
In what context would this even come up?
Cravings come and go throughout pregnancy and a pregnant woman’s skin can generally become more itchy and irritated, again, thank hormones for that. But the two of them aren’t linked.
If a loving member of your family suggests this either when you say you aren’t eating what you crave or I guess when they catch you scratching yourself, simply tell them you have it say it’s a bug bite and change the subject, quick. If you do have itchy skin, try to hydrate your skin from the inside out, drinking lots of water and having healthy oils such as hemp oil, flax oil or coconut.
Your baby won’t get birthmarks if you go out on a full moon either or any other event of nature. It is generally thought that birthmarks, which are formed from an overgrowth of pigmented cells, are inherited genetically, so really there’s nothing you can do to prevent them. Might as well not worry.
Meanwhile scratching an itch CAN produce:
- - Stretch marks
- - A red blotchy type rash
- - Usually, more itching
#10 If you don’t keep an even temperament your baby will look like the person you hate the most.
Well, that’s saving the best for last! First of all, chances are your baby will look a bit like you and a bit like your partner, as well as some of your relatives, unless you hate any of them there’s no chance your baby will morph into your bitter enemy.
How anyone would keep an even temperament when being told this piece of wisdom is beyond comprehension. As if when you feel rage it’s going to be absorbed into your baby’s facial structure and trigger some sort of transformation into someone they have never met. It’s as ridiculous as the myth from the middle ages that suggested you should never look at a monkey or a parrot when pregnant as your baby will end up looking like that instead!
And by the way, cut yourself some slack. Pregnancy is a time of huge hormonal changes, as well as physical discomfort and emotional and mental tango dancing. It would be impossible to have an even temperament even in the best of times. Take it easy with yourself and focus on the things you can do instead:
- Eat a healthy diet, rich in nutrients and low in empty junk food
- Exercise, within your comfort zone. Don’t push yourself too hard
- Sleep whenever you need to.
- Keep yourself informed. No matter who it is that is telling you something negative, then research their opinion and get about three sources to back it up. On the other end of the scale if you sense something is wrong, trust your instincts and look into it.
- Treat yourself well. Take the chance to be a little selfish for your comfort. Simple luxuries will boost your mood and release endorphins that will be beneficial to your baby and pregnancy experience. Isn’t that a great excuse to spoil yourself a bit?
With pregnancy comes some serious stresses and worries and crazy family experiences, but it also can be a time of excitement, joy, wonder and awe inspiring euphoria and bliss. So have a laugh at the silly old wives tales and create your own experience!