Pregnancy Myths: Busted Or Trusted?
WellBeing|Issue 194
From “eating for two” to full-moon births, expectant parents are often bombarded with myths around pregnancy. We sort the sound advice from the sea of old wives’ tales.
Carrol Baker

My belly is shaped like a torpedo, I must be having a girl. I’m going to sit on the couch for nine months, because exercise could strangle my baby. I can’t look at an ugly animal while pregnant or my baby will be a plain Jane. I don’t like rubbing my belly, it will make my baby spoiled.

From the unusual to the weird and wacky, chatter around pregnancy myths is shared the world over. But are they the real deal or just a bit of fun?

More babies are born on full moons

A full moon is the lunar phase when the entire moon orb can be seen from Earth. Full moons are sometimes associated with crazy or odd behaviour. In some cultures, a full moon is also linked to a woman’s fertility cycle. Dr Eugen Jonas, a psychiatrist from Slovakia, devised a theory in 1956 that claimed when the moon is in the same phase as it was when a woman was born, she can spontaneously ovulate at this time.

Many midwives and doulas lay claim to the fact that a full moon sees a surge of women go into labour. Birthing doula Trudy Vains says hospitals are overflowing at that time. “Any midwife or doula will tell you we always prepare for a busy night when one is approaching; my bag is always packed and ready,” she says. The theory might be anecdotally sound, but scientists don’t necessarily agree that a full moon hastens a baby’s arrival.

If a storm is on the horizon, however, you should buckle up, because your baby might be on the way. Robyn Horsager-Boehrer, MD obstetrics and gynaecology, says changes in barometric pressure can induce more women to go into labour. “Among health care professionals and labour and delivery nurses, there is a strong belief that falling barometric pressure results in an increase of spontaneous rupture of membranes and increased rates of spontaneous labour,” she says.

A baby will fix a strained relationship

Bringing a new baby home is a special time in your life, but with the beautiful moments you’ll share with your newborn, there is often sleep deprivation and the stress of trying to soothe a crying baby. Deciding to have a baby isn’t a romantic balm for a troubled relationship. Dr Nicole Highet, director of the Centre of Perinatal Excellence (COPE), says some couples do buy into the notion that it can be. “The ideal of sitting there together gazing at the baby you’ve created together is lovely, but the reality is having a baby introduces more stress and more challenges into a relationship,” she says.

A baby means more responsibility and less time for each other, and puts more demands on a partnership. If there are issues in your relationship that need to be addressed, work on those before bringing a child into the mix. Dr Highet says if you’re having problems, set aside times to have an honest conversation with your partner. Discover whether there are needs you both have that aren’t being met, she suggests.

Sexual positions can determine a baby’s gender

Can humans stack the deck to influence the sex of their baby? A few decades ago, Dr Landrum Shettles proposed that if you have sex on the day of ovulation, you’re more likely to have a boy, as male sperm swim faster than female sperm. But female sperm are more robust, they survive longer, so if you have sex a few days before, that ups the odds you’ll have a girl. Dr Shettles also claimed shallower penetration (missionary position) increases the odds of having a girl — as it’s more acidic near the opening of the vagina and the stronger girl sperm can forge through the acidic area.

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