6 Old Wives’ Tales About Pregnancy That Need To Go Away Forever
Pregnancy is an invitation for people you’ve never met (and relatives who really should know better) to load you down with terrible advice. It doesn’t matter what kind of bizarre old wives’ tales they’ve heard second-, third-, or fourth-hand: they want you to treat every outdated pronouncement as the gospel truth. Here are a few of the weirdest and most enduring myths and superstitions about pregnancy that you can dismiss out of hand the next time a stranger on the bus tries to take away your cup of Starbucks or yells at you for stretching your back out.
If you’re trying to conceive and have well-intentioned but poorly-educated friends or family members, you’ve probably been told to eat or drink all kinds of things to help you get pregnant faster. Unfortunately, no herbal tea has yet been found that will help that sperm meet egg on time, nor will grapefruit juice help you thin your cervical mucus – at least no more so than just drinking a glass of water. (If you’re trying to medically treat infertility, you actually probably want to avoid grapefruit juice entirely, since it can keep your intestines from completely absorbing drugs.) And no, a man drinking caffeine before sex will not have super-speedy sperm, although this is probably my favorite old wives’ tale of all time just for the imagery alone.
Baths are relaxing, which is pretty much exactly what you should be doing while pregnant – so why do some people want to scare you away from taking one? The rationale behind this one varies depending on who you hear it from, but the old wives in question seem to believe that it will cause bath bacteria to float up into your uterus (there’s this handy thing called a “cervix” that should prevent that), or that will, um, cook your baby. If the bath is cool enough for you to get into comfortably, then baby is fine too. (If it’s too hot, the main problem is that your blood is going to hang out in your limbs to try to cool you down, instead of hanging out in your placenta to help baby – either way, though, Baby Stew à la Mr. Bubble is not on the menu.)
If you’ve ever had a strawberry swatted out of your hand during pregnancy, you may have been told that you’re at risk of causing your baby to be born with a birthmark. The same thing is said of beets, jelly, coffee, and chocolate; but of course nothing that you is going to affect whether or not your baby comes out birthmark-free. Amusingly enough, I’ve also heard the reverse myth, too: that if you have a craving for strawberries or chocolate, but hold out on yourself, then your baby will be born with a birthmark in the color of the food you denied yourself. Once again, pregnant women just can’t win, except by rejecting old wives’ tales altogether and eating whatever they want (except sharks. Please do not attempt to eat a live shark while you are pregnant).