Friday, September 22, 2006

Dispelling Common Pregnancy Myths

By Brandi M. Seals

We have all heard pregnancy myths before. They seem to get past down one generation after another. Many deal with determining the sex of the baby, though in light of ultrasounds they have died out and given way to myths that women should not move too much, eat too much of this or that and various other things.

Myth: Standing on your head after sex can increase your chances of becoming pregnant.

Truth: Standing on your head has not been proven to help conception in any way. Some experts do however recommend lying down for 20 to 30 minutes after sex because it helps keep the sperm inside.

Myth: How the baby is carried or the rate of its heart can indicate the baby's sex.

Truth: The belief that boys are carried low and they have lower heartbeats and that girls are carried high and have higher heart rates simply are not true. The shape of the belly is determined by muscle and uterine tone along with the baby's position. The closer you are to delivery, the lower you will carry. If you want to know the sex of your child, have an ultrasound.

Myth: If you have heartburn during pregnancy, your baby will be born with lots of hair.

Truth: Heartburn is common during pregnancy. It is in no way connected to how much hair your child has.

Myth: Spicy food brings on labor.

Truth: Spicy food has not been proven to bring on labor. If you want to give it a try because you are overdue, go for it. It has not been linked to miscarriage or pre-term labor.

Myth: If a pregnant woman raises her hands above her head, she will choke her baby.

Truth: Raising your hands over your head does not cause the umbilical cord to choke the baby. About 25 percent of all babies are born with the cord around the neck, and several have the cord wrapped around other body parts. There is nothing a mother can do to cause this. Tangles are caused by the movement of the fetus early on.

The only benefit to this myth is that a pregnant woman may not have to do unwanted lifting, cleaning or working.

Myth: If you have bad morning sickness, it is a girl; mild or none means it is a boy.

Truth: Again, there is no way to tell whether you are having a boy or a girl without an ultrasound.

Myth: Do not wear your seat belt if it is uncomfortable.

Truth: Nothing could be more unsafe than riding in a car without the seat belt. Seat belts protect you and your baby during an accident. However, air bags may be bad news for expectant mothers. Avoid them by sitting in the back seat.

Myth: If your mom or sister had --------, you will too. Or, if ------ happened during your first pregnancy, it will happen again.

Truth: Some things in life are hereditary; however labor and delivery are not one of them. If your mom had you after only 2 hours of labor, do not assume you will have a short labor. You could be there for over 24 hours. Something goes if your first delivery was quick and easy, the second one might be more painful. Do not rely on your past experiences (or those of relatives) to tell you what your experience will be like.

Myth: Pregnant women cannot exercise.

Truth: This myth is totally untrue unless you have been otherwise directed by a doctor. The exercises you used to do may need to be altered to accommodate the pregnancy, but exercise is always beneficial.

Myth: Sleeping on your back can hurt the baby.

Truth: Many women believe that blood flow will be reduced through the placenta if they lie on their backs. Truth is that it is generally untrue. One's blood flow can be compromised by sleeping on one's back. The mother in this situation would most likely have a high risk pregnancy and feel dizzy or uncomfortable in this position. This would naturally make her shift positions.

The origin of this myth dates to the 1960s and 1970s when research showed that blood flow can be compromised if women are made to labor on their backs. In this position, the vena cave may become compressed. That is why women are encouraged to be on their sides, sit up or walk while they are in labor.

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