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what kind of bizarre old wives' tales they've heard second-, third-, or fourth-hand: they want you to treat every outdated pronouncement as the gospel truth.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).
4. Stomach upset
Ginger - in candied, snap, or ale form - is recommended as a cure-all for the inevitable bouts of morning sickness, but so far, studies haven't actually shown a clear benefit to ginger's use as an anti-nausea 'nutriceutical'. It's still delicious though, so if it's one of the few things you can keep down during a rough first trimester, go crazy with the gingerbread this Christmas. Or whenever you want. You're pregnant, don't let other people tell you you're not allowed to eat gingerbread in July if that's what you want.
How are you going to stay in good enough shape to do baby yoga after your child arrives if you can't stretch while you're pregnant? Putting your arms over your head or trying to crack the pregnancy crick out of your back is not going to wrap the umbilical cord around your baby's neck, no matter what your grandma says about the matter. The cord is cushioned by a filling of squishable jelly, plus all that amniotic fluid, so it is more than design to deal with a little wiggling on your part. And anyway, about one-third of babies come into the world tangled in their cords, so if this was as bad as it sounds on the surface, you'd think you'd have heard about it from a doctor instead of a rumor handed down from your second cousin's sister-in-law's hairdresser. (But maybe do skip the Extreme Baby Yoga, unlike Lena Fokina in the picture up there.)
6. Sex prediction
If your method of predicting your baby's biological sex does not involve either an ultrasound or a DNA test, it is not so much a "method" as a "silly game". Neither the types of cravings you have nor the position of your uterus can accurately predict its contents. Being pregnant with a girl will not "steal your beauty" (wtf?), the type of baby you're gestating has no bearing on how much you smell like garlic after eating a plateful of spaghetti, and having dark-colored urine does not mean you're having a boy - it means you're having an episode of dehydration.
But if the "sex prediction" you're looking for means trying to predict when you're going to feel like having sex again after you give birth, though, we can help you. In your third trimester, ask your partner to tell you they love you. The volume at which you snarl back, "You did this to me!" is directly related to how far in the future postpartum nookie awaits.
On the face of it, the old story about a pregnant person's heartburn and nausea being related to how much hair the baby will be born with sounds pretty silly. That's what researchers thought, too ... until they did a study that backed up this long-held belief. As it turns out, sometimes even the weirdest old wives' tales have a touch of truth to them. Just don't let this one exception that proves the rule keep you away from a nice relaxing bubble bath or a back-popping stretch.
(Feature image: Twitter)