8 Scary Old Wives’ Tales About Pregnancy You Need To Throw In The Trash

August 13, 2018

Sure, pregnancy is a blessing — but it’s also one of the scariest times in your life. The second you get confirmation, a plethora of fears runs through your head. But fear not. Some of the biggest worries you may have might simply be old wives’ tales.

An old wives’ tale is a story that originated from back in the day that has little to no scientific backing to it. Sometimes they can be fun, almost like a campfire story, but other times they can be straight-up misleading. When dealing with pregnancy, it’s important to deal with the facts. That means that the best person to talk to about any concern is your OB-GYN. They’ve seen it all — seriously. And since every pregnancy is different, it’s much better to consult with them than your nervous aunt, who swears her coworker’s cousin was right on the ball with predicting that her baby was a boy due to a salt craving. (Again, this stuff can be fun, but when the myths have no scientific backing, there’s no need to freak out.)

Here are a few of the biggest pregnancy-related old wives’ tales that you shouldn’t base your pregnancy around. Unless you’re just looking to have a little bit of fun. (And when you’re in your third trimester, you’ll be looking for fun things to do that require little energy.)

1. Heartburn means you’ll have a hairy baby.

Pregnancy heartburn is the worst — seriously. It can get so intense that even Tums won’t be able to settle it. But there’s an old wives’ tale that it’s connected to the amount of hair that a baby has at birth. And, honestly? This one has been proven to have some truth to it, just probably not in the scary way you imagine. Heartburn in the third trimester is caused by estrogen and hormones, which could also be linked to hair growth. But it doesn’t mean that a mother without heartburn (which, lucky you) will give birth to a bald baby. Nor does it mean that a woman with severe heartburn will be giving birth to a newborn who resembles Bigfoot. If you have a lot of heartburn, your chances increase that your baby will have hair — but it’s not necessarily a given.

2. Drinking milk will help your breast milk supply.

Breast milk is one of the 10,000 things a pregnant woman worries about prior to delivery. Will there be enough? Will it even come in? Every woman produces breast milk differently, so sometimes the best-laid plans just don’t work out. But one thing’s for sure — drinking cows milk during pregnancy won’t have much effect. Sure, it’s good for the calcium, but it’s not linked to your own supply whatsoever. So, stop chugging that gallon — you’ll only make yourself sick.

3. A girl will “steal her mother’s beauty.”

When it comes to old wives’ tales, a majority of them are about gender predicting. Thankfully, there’s now a blood test that can let you in on the news well before your anatomy scan. But still, it’s fun to speculate. Supposedly if your acne increases and your hair gets dull during pregnancy, you’re having a girl. Why? Well, because she’s “stealing your beauty,” which is the ultimate pitting-women-against-women perpetuation. Obviously, this myth is a total farce. Pregnant women remain beautiful throughout all three trimesters and beyond, and it has nothing to do with the gender of their baby.

4. Pregnant women need to stay away from seafood.

Sadly, there is a bunch of stuff you’ll want to stay away from. But seafood, for the most part, isn’t one of them. As with all food (pregnant or not) you’ll want to make sure it’s properly cooked. And you may want to limit (but not totally eliminate, if you can’t) your canned tuna and other fish that are high in mercury. In general, seafood might very well be linked to smarter babies. Research is still being conducted to further back this claim, but it all sounds pretty positive. It’s a healthy protein to include in your diet.

5. Lifting your hands above your head might strangle the baby.

You may have heard that it’s not good to lift heavy furniture, but…lifting your hands over your head? Some people say that this position might strangle your baby in the womb. Take a deep breath. It’s not true. Women may have believed that stretching out would cause a baby to have more room to strangle themselves with their umbilical cord, but scientifically, there’s no backing behind it. For sure, this is one of the old wives’ tales out there that’s the creepiest.

6. Cats will harm the baby both before and after pregnancy.

You don’t have to say goodbye to your cat after finding out you’re pregnant — which, phew. But it’s true that handling cat litter isn’t a good idea for a pregnant woman. Cat poop can contain a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, and humans can get it by accidentally touching litter while they’re cleaning their kitty’s bathroom. Healthy adults can handle toxoplasmosis (if you get sick from it, the worst that can happen to you is that you feel like you have a mild flu), children and pregnant women (or people with compromised or weakened immune systems) can get very, very sick. If a pregnant woman is infected with toxoplasmosis, she can also give it to her unborn child through the placenta — and it can be deadly.

So, having someone else handle the task for nine months is a solid idea. Aside from their litter, there’s little to worry about. A cat’s main goal isn’t to smother your baby, either — so while it’s good to keep them out of the nursery, and an eye on both of them (as you would anyway) there’s a good chance they’ll be able to cohabitate with no concern.

7. Pregnant woman should avoid exercise since it’ll hurt the baby.

Not true. But it is true that you should avoid any new, intense workouts your body isn’t already used to. Unless your doctor personally rules anything out (and they’ll know best) it’s extremely healthy to exercise while pregnant. As per WebMD, the safest and best exercises include swimming, walking, and cycling.

8. Bright yellow pee means you’re having a boy, while dull yellow means girl.

Let’s end this on a real head-scratcher. Some people out there think that urine doesn’t just identify vitamin levels and hydration, but gender too! Pee can indicate a lot of stuff — and keeping track of it is important (as well as a good practice for the future, where you’ll be analyzing newborn poop.) But, it’s not often consistent and isn’t a good indicator as to whether or not a boy or girl is on the way. If your pee is dark yellow, you might just want to drink more water, not paint the nursery pink.