When it comes to pregnancy, parents are united in the common goal of doing what it takes to ensure their baby comes into the world healthy, loved, and happy. There are general rules that most parents follow but the nuances of what is believed and practiced between households can differ greatly.
Generally, upon learning of conception, we think about what we put in our bodies. We see our general practitioner, obstetrician, or midwife regularly throughout the pregnancy. We take maternal vitamins, talk to and nurture our bumps, take prenatal classes, and decorate the nursery. Families and friends will rise to the challenge of guessing the gender, exact birthdate, and weight.
Some moms create a birth plan while some go with the flow. Some will give birth in a tub, others in a bed, some sitting, and others some standing. Some will be at home, others at the hospital, and others in a birthing center. There are variations, of course, but nothing here is particularly surprising. It’s all pretty vanilla.
When we start to explore beliefs about pregnancy passed down from earlier generations, from other cultures, or preserved through old wives’ tales, it gets downright fascinating. We can say with certainty that the beliefs we are about to discuss are unfounded but many expectant moms think “what if”?
Who’s to say great-grandma is wrong? What if there is truth to some of the stuff a woman’s own mom suggests? What if a friend from a different culture swears by something with great conviction? The following explores some of these very pregnancy beliefs that are downright unusual or bizarre.
15 Drinking Beer Helps With Milk Production
Many a new mom looks forward to her first drink of alcohol after giving birth--within reason, of course. Some may feel guilty for doing so but this is certainly curbed if one believes that beer can stimulate milk production!
Well, this “myth” is sorta true. Beer can stimulate the milk supply but it’s not actually because of the alcohol. It’s because of a polysaccharide in barley which is used to make some types of beer. This component of barley helps to stimulate prolactin, which makes moms produce more milk.
But truth-be-told, because it’s the barley at work and not the alcohol, the same effect holds true for non-alcoholic beer. And the alcohol component can actually work against milk production.
So, unfortunately, new moms can’t use the excuse of milk production to justify beer consumption when nursing. In fact, even small amounts of alcohol can pass through breast milk to the baby, so it’s best to abstain completely or to drink a small amount of alcohol only occasionally.
14 The Drano Gender Prediction Test
Some parents are so keen to determine their baby’s gender that they attempt to find ways to do so before mom is far enough along. This “Drano” gender prediction test has been around for quite some time and is one of the stranger ones we encountered. It can also be dangerous, so please don’t try it!
The idea behind it is if a pregnant woman mixes her urine with Drano--yes, that good old drain unclogger--the liquid will change color depending on the gender of the baby.
One problem with this method is that there are contradictory reports about which color means what. If the liquid turns bluish yellow, brownish, black, brown or blue, all of these can mean a boy. Or a girl. Huh?!
Another major problem with this method is it can be dangerous. Drano is highly corrosive. Further, mixing it with urine can lead to toxic fumes or even explosions. As a result, it’s best to wait for the 20-week scan, genetic testing, or the good ol' delivery day.
13 Cats Suck The Breath Out Of Babies
This myth has historical roots going back a long way. Cats tend to get a bad rap in general due to their long-standing association with witches and as symbols of bad luck and evil. The belief here suggests that a cat with suck the breath out of a baby, thereby suffocating him/her.
There are several reasons why this myth likely exists. The first is that cats are attracted to the smell of a baby’s milky breath and may try to get close. A second reason is that cats may get jealous of the attention mom gives to a new baby.
But will a cat deliberately smother a baby? The answer to this question is a resounding NO. Could it happen accidentally? Perhaps, but reported cases are scarce to non-existence. That said, best to always keep an eye on babies and pets, but we shouldn’t assume cats want to harm babies.
12 Bathing During Pregnancy Can Drown The Fetus
The good news is that baths are perfectly safe during pregnancy so long as the water isn’t too hot. Bath water should never get be any higher than 98°F to keep the baby at the right temperature. Unless there's a reason the doc has said not to bathe at all, then go for it.
The idea that bathing during pregnancy can drown a baby makes absolutely no sense. Water is not entering the amniotic sac during bathing, or swimming for that matter, so it’s literally impossible to drown a fetus during a bath. Further, the lungs of unborn babies are already full of water making this myth even more mythical. Not to mention babies are surrounded by fluid for nine months.
This belief likely arose due to the naivety of new parents back in the day and has somehow maintained traction.
11 Ropes And Nuchal Cords
A nuchal cord is the term used when the umbilical cord becomes wrapped around an unborn baby’s neck in a complete 360 degree loop. This can be risky because it poses a risk of strangulation to the fetus. Naturally, this is something that expectant moms worry about and something everyone hopes to avoid.
In fact, it is such a fear in certain cultures that pregnant women are advised to avoid stepping over ropes during pregnancy because it is believed this can lead to the dreaded umbilical cord entanglement. Some say this myth also extends to electrical cords.
Luckily, if you are gullible, it probably isn’t too hard to avoid ropes during pregnancy. Naturally, there is no scientific basis for this myth so if an expectant mom is prone to taking a hammock nap during pregnancy, we say “go for it”!
10 Pregnant Women Shouldn’t Touch Each Other
This belief comes to us from Mongolia and there are a few variations of it. The first suggests that pregnant woman should not to touch one another due to the concern that the babies' genders can be swapped if they do so.
This myth could be disproven scientifically quite easily if anybody actually wanted to take it that far. Present day testing proves that there is no swapping a baby’s gender. It is what it is from the moment of conception!
Another version of this myth is even more far fetched. It suggests that pregnant women should not touch belly to belly or the entire baby will hop ship, take up residence in the other mom’s womb, and she’ll end up with the other person’s baby.
It goes without saying that this is downright bizarre. Babies are nestled snugly inside their mom’s wombs, so the only way this could happen is via an alien invasion.
9 Heartburn Means It's Going To Be A Hairy Baby
This is one of the oldest beliefs in the book. It states that if an expectant mom has bad heartburn during her pregnancy, then her baby will be born with a full head of hair. But wait a minute, this one is TRUE!
A study at Johns Hopkins indicates there is a correlation between heartburn and the amount of hair a newborn has. Heartburn is usually at its worst in the third trimester due to estrogen, which causes the esophageal sphincter to relax. This allows stomach acid to travel upwards causing that dreaded heartburn. Estrogen also plays a role in hair growth for those pudgy unborn bundles of joy. So voilà, truth.
Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but in general, heartburn can mean more hair on a newborn. So if heartburn has a mama down, her little one just might have a head full of luscious locks at birth.
8 Carrying High Means It's A Baby Girl
There is nary an expectant mom who won’t have someone comment about how she is carrying during her pregnancy. Carrying high means the biggest, most protruding part of a bump appears to be sitting high up on a woman’s frame, right under her breasts. Carrying low means the baby is closer down to the pelvis.
This myth states that girls tend to be high and boys tend to be low. We can’t logically figure out any scientific reason why this would be the case. For the most part, the way a person carries is the result of muscles, body type, and the baby’s position. It’s even possible for one woman to carry differently between pregnancies based on all of these aforementioned factors.
Although there is a little truth to it, this myth is unlikely to go away anytime soon. It’s likely perpetuated, in part, because it’s fun, and it’s accurate about 50 percent of the time.
7 Using Breastfeeding As Birth Control
While it’s true that breastfeeding often suppresses ovulation, it isn’t a foolproof birth control method. This is called lactational amenorrhea, which means the usual cycle of ovulation and menstruation is absent. So, if one isn’t ovulating, one can’t get pregnant. Truth be told, parents should still be careful unless they are ready for an “oops” moment.
Some women will have full amenorrhea until they completely stop breastfeeding, but for other women, amenorrhea is absent or short, and others will have their cycles kick in again once they taper off breastfeeding.
One problem with this notion of breastfeeding as birth control is that it’s tough to know exactly when ovulation will kick in again. It is actually possible for a woman to get pregnant before experiencing her first period after breastfeeding. This occurs if a woman conceives the first time she ovulates after giving birth and before that first period even has a chance to start. Yikes!
6 Don’t Look At Wildlife During Pregnancy
In Turkey, women are told to avoid looking at bears, monkeys, and camels while expecting. Doing so is considered very bad luck.
Throughout much of the world, there is a strong belief that what a pregnant woman does can influence her unborn child. In the Western world, we tend to focus on things like diet, stress, exercise, adequate rest, and strong prenatal care as influencing our unborn babies. In certain cultures, wrought with a strong tradition, a mother’s influence is thought to extend beyond the tangible.
In other parts of the world, it said that some activities a mom engages in can influence things like a baby’s appearance, gender, and the pain level associated with childbirth, among others.
We aren’t exactly sure what would happen if an expectant Turkish mom looked at a bear, monkey, or camel, but it is likely there is a belief that the baby may be unattractive as a result or that a difficult childbirth might ensue. No trips to the zoo, that’s for sure!
5 Saving Sperm Increases The Chances Of Conception
Sorry folks. There is no truth to this. Some expectant parents have the ill-conceived notion that “saving up” sperm for one BIG day will increase pregnancy odds but this is not the case.
Sperm replenishes every 24 to 48 hours so there is no use in waiting days, weeks, or months. The only result might be one testy partner--no pun intended. Do it when the mood and the timing is right. Ovulation predictor kits have a pretty good track record these days, so that is one great way to increase the odds.
While we are on the topic of conception, there is another myth we’ll bust. Some hopeful moms tip their pelvises upwards after intercourse to help the sperm travel in the right direction. Let’s not forget there are millions of those swimmers in there and the act of ejaculation itself helps get them well on their way. Truth is, there is no proof that tilting the hips upwards helps. That said, if it makes a person feel better, there is no harm in it.
4 Ring Swing Gender Predictor
We can likely all agree that there is little veracity of this gender prediction test and yet generations before us attest to it. That said, it’s easy to execute, fun to watch, and it's great for a baby shower. Here’s how it works:
- Take expectant mom’s wedding ring off
- Attach wedding ring to a thread
- Tell mom to lie down on her back
- Hold thread over mom’s belly so the ring dangles down
- Watch to see the direction of the “ring swing”
The rules state that if the ring swings in a circular motion, the baby is a girl. If it swings back and forth like a pendulum, it’s a boy. This test is said to be more “accurate” if the pregnancy is further along. We aren’t really sure how this can matter since there is nothing scientific about it. One may as well perform the test on dad for the same reliability of results.
3 Cravings Mean Birthmark On The Baby
Many a mom craves certain foods during pregnancy, and many indulge. This “pregnancy craving” myth appears to have a few variations. If the craving is unsatisfied, and mom touches her face or body, then a birthmark in the shape of the food craved will appear on the same body part of the baby that was touched.
According to another version, it seems that the birthmark can appear with just the craving alone, whether it is satisfied or not.
Well, if this were true, we’d see a lot of babies with some interesting birthmarks on their bodies--in the shapes of pickles, scoops of ice cream, lemons, potato chips, key lime pie… the list is endless.
This myth appears to have some roots in Italian culture. Although, according to The Atlantic, it is also practiced in Israel, Egypt, and Brazil.
2 More Babies Born During A Full Moon
We’ve all heard this, right? Well, believe it or not, it is untrue. Even maternity nurses and doctors swear by this myth but science disproves it. There is no evidence to suggest that more babies are born when the moon is full.
In fact, a full moon is blamed for many phenomena, including homicides, suicides, ER traffic, and sudden outbreaks of lunacy. It is, after all, called the lunar effect. As far as birth is concerned, the lunar effect suggests that the moon controls a woman’s body the same way it controls the tides since the human body is mostly water.
Further, given that a woman’s cycle follows the lunar cycle, it doesn’t seem too far fetched that it could impact childbirth as well. Unfortunately, any evidence to corroborate this is anecdotal or anomalous.
What this means is that the baby will come when he’s good and ready, not when the moon says so.
1 Rubbing Bump Will Result in Spoiled Baby
By as early as eight weeks gestation, a fetus has begun to develop touch receptors. It will be later in the pregnancy before the baby is big and developed enough to feel touching from outside the womb, but when this happens around 20 weeks, he/she will enjoy the belly rubs.
An old wives’ tale in China suggests that excessive belly rubs will result in a spoiled baby. We don’t like the sound of this, especially given the fact that studies have shown that babies like to be touched in the womb. Think about how comforting touch can be to all of us. The same holds true for an unborn fetus.
Plus, this is a really nice way for mom to bond with her bump and to get dad involved in the action as well. Given that there is nothing to back the idea that an unborn baby can be spoiled, we say rub away.