Women who are pregnant end up bombarded with all sorts of advice from others, and sometimes, it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. You may have heard a tip from a friend or a warning from a great-aunt, but there are plenty of old myths about pregnancy that aren't true. Most of these myths are harmless, but you don't want to waste your time trying all these different tricks to induce labor faster and end up disappointed when you're still pregnant past your due date.
"Since pregnancy and childbirth are such an integral and focal parts of families in all cultures, many family members and friends have common opinions which have been passed along through generations," reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Aaron K. Styer tells Bustle. "Like many other historical accounts and family remedies, several aspects of theses opinions and notions about pregnancy change over time. Since they originated from older family members and friends, they are interpreted as being true without any scientific evidence to support them."
There are plenty of myths about pregnancy floating around, but experts say much of it is just hearsay and not medical fact. Here are nine old-wives' tales about pregnancy that aren't true — no matter how many times you have heard them.
1. You Need To Eat For Two
Contrary what many people might think, you don't have to actually eat double the amount when you're pregnant. Wendy Y. Chang, M.D., F.A.C.O.G. tells Bustle that food guidelines will not change drastically throughout pregnancy. A slight increase in food intake may occur in the second or third trimester, but that may depend on your medical history. "It’s always best to speak with your doctor about the best nutrition plan based on your health," Chang says.
2. The Way You Carry Can Determine The Baby's Assigned Gender At Birth
Some people believe the way you carry the baby determines what the gender the baby will be assigned at birth will be. "In reality, your body shape, height...size of the uterus, and movement of the baby determine the shape of the baby bump," says Styer. "The shape of the baby bump does not correlate to [the gender the baby will be assigned at birth]."
3. A Wedding Ring On A String Can Determine The Baby's Assigned Gender At Birth
Some people use this old trick to predict the gender the baby will be assigned at birth. However, this is just an old-wives' tale. "Movement of a ring is related to the general principles of movement," says Styer. "A baby inside of the belly cannot affect this nor impact the movement of objects outside of the uterus." So whether the ring moves back and forth or in a circular motion really won't tell you anything.
4. Food Cravings Can Determine The Baby's Assigned Gender At Birth
You may have heard that if you crave sweets, it’s a girl, or if you crave salty foods, it’s a boy, but the types of food you crave won't predict the baby's assigned gender at birth either. "Pregnancy food cravings are the result of preexisting food preferences and the complex hormonal changes of pregnancy, which can influence appetite, sense of smell and taste," says Styer. "The [assigned gender at birth] of the baby is not related to cravings."
5. Spicy Foods Can Trigger Pre-Term Labor
You don't have to worry about eating your spicy Pad Thai and having contractions in the restaurant — eating spicy foods doesn't trigger preterm labor. "However, pregnant women may still want to be cautious with spicy foods, as some can trigger stomach upset or nausea and exacerbate acid reflux or heartburn," says Chang.
6. Eating Certain Foods Will Trigger Labor
Ingesting castor oil or eating pizza won't speed up how quickly you go into labor. "There are medications that your obstetrician or midwife may place on the cervix or give through an IV to expedite labor," says Styer.
7. Heartburn Means A Baby Full Of Hair
Unfortunately, there is no correlation between the amount of hair your baby will have and if you do or do not have heartburn. "Heartburn is one of the most common symptoms during pregnancy," says Styer. "Due to the increasing hormone levels and increasing size and pressure from the pregnant uterus, the movement of the digestive tract can slow down. As a result, more women will experience acid reflux and heartburn as pregnancy progresses."
8. Placing A Knife Under Your Bed Cuts Labor Pain In Half
Some people would do anything to avoid labor pains, but putting a knife under your pillow won't do much to make giving birth easier "Nothing 'cuts' — or eliminates the pain of labor like analgesia," Dr. Kecia Gaither, OB/GYN tells Bustle.
9. Pregnant Women Shouldn't Take Baths
Folklore has it that pregnant women should avoid taking baths to prevent the dirty water getting to the baby. But if you want to relax in the tub, feel free to do so — your baby will be fine. "This is not true, unless the woman has ruptured membranes, in which case bacteria can ascend up the vagina into the uterus causing infection," says Gaither.
There are a lot of old myths circulating about pregnancy, but if you're ever in doubt, ask your doctor, who can help you decipher what's true and what isn't.