Pregnancy myths have been around since the dawn of…well…pregnancies. It is little wonder that we guess, wonder and make out-of-this-world assumptions about such a major life event. Bearing a child puts a lot of our resources at stake, and nine months really isn’t a whole lot of time to prepare if you think about it, so it only makes sense that we’d want whatever edge we can get on figuring this whole pregnancy and baby thing out.
In honour of this tendency, here are our top 10 widely-believed pregnancy myths.
Myth: The position of your belly determines the baby’s sex
The reality:People have different body types and habits. Simple as that. There is no scientific proof to back this one. Plus, in this day and age, does it really matter?
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Myth: Sex during pregnancy is bad
Myth: If you’re stressing, your baby will suffer
The reality:Recent research suggests that some stress can actually benefit your baby. It can tone their nervous system and even accelerate development. One study found that moderate stress during pregnancy led to the baby’s brain working faster at two weeks than the brains of babies whose mothers did not experience this stress. At two years old, the tots showed higher motor and mental development scores. That’s not to say constant exposure to highly stressful situations doesn’t have down sides. But some stress helps these babes better prepare for life outside the womb.
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Myth: You have to give up Toby the tabby cat
The reality:Being around and petting your kitty won’t necessarily put you and your unborn baby in harm’s way (in fact, your pet may be making you healthier). However, the exception here is you should not be cleaning your cat’s litter box. The taxoplasma gondii parasite resides in your cat’s stinkies, if it is in fact infected, so this is the bit you do want to stay away from. Plus, there will be enough diaper dookie to toss once the baby is born — and, you’re busy growing an actual human, thank you very much. Must you do everything?? Asking for help is ok.
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Myth: Going outside while pregnant during an eclipse will cause deformities or unsightly birthmarks.
The reality:No, science does not support this one. Going outside during an eclipse will not give your unborn a cleft palate or any other deformity, rest assured. You do still want to take regular precautions when it comes to observing a solar eclipse, so you yourself don’t damage your eyes. But that’s a separate issue altogether.
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Myth: Exercise for pregnant women can endanger the baby and put your pregnancy at-risk.
The reality:Exercise during pregnancy brings well-documented benefits, in many cases, even as some high-risk pregnancies do require certain women to modify their activity levels. In any case, your doctor will advise you on what’s best for you and your baby. Generally, not only does exercise better condition you (and your heart) for the ultimate task of labour (hey, they call it labour, not say, a siesta, for a reason), but the benefits extend to your wee one too. Babies of moms who are physically active have better cardiovascular health, and may even be more intelligent as adults, because exercise fuels brain development. So strap on those velcro kicks (because...can you even see your shoelaces?) and get that heart racing and those feel-good endorphins going.
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Myth: Your fetus is cocooned away in your womb, and is thus sealed away from anything that happens outside of it.
The reality:While your belly and its many layers certainly provide some barriers from the outside world, whatever you are exposed to (air pollution, chemicals, food, etc.) can still make its way to your baby by way of your bloodstream and the placenta. So you do want to abstain from certain things such as alcohol and cigarette smoke. You may also want to avoid these 10 toxic ingredients
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Myth: You can grow a baby genius in utero with the right tools
The reality:While you and your environment will certainly shape your unborn bebe in the nine months you incubate your offspring, its primary concern has less to do with the genre of music you play for it, and more to do with whether it will be born into a world of abundance or scarcity. Will it be safe? Or will it face constant dangers? This preparation will equip your child with the adaptive skills it will need to survive in the environment you will birth it into.
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Myth: What month or time of the year you were born in has nothing to do with how your child will turn out. That’s silly astrology.
The reality:Studies on fetuses suggests that the timing of your birth can impact your mental and physical wellness. For one thing, exposure to viruses during the flu season can certainly shape babies’ development (and they call it the flu season for a reason). Also: Women pregnant during the cold winter months short on daylight hours may experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This leads to a decrease in serotonin levels (your body’s feel-good chemicals) — a deficit that the fetus can experience as well. Babies born in the spring months of March, April and May have the highest instance of depression according to one 2012 U.K. study (with November having the lowest rates). Babies born in the summer months of August are at least risk of Bipolar Disorder. While babies born in the Fall have benefitted from the abundant nutrients of the harvest months (at least where humans still follow traditional farming cycles, and where food availability is linked with the seasons). Winter babies on the other hand are less irritable than the babes of Fall, but they do have higher rates of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, SAD and depression (albeit the study sample here was admittedly small). But for the creative types, January and February months are apparently the ideal months to be born. So don’t rule out these influences entirely, however small they may be.
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Myth: There is such a thing as a perfect pregnancy and you should be feeling ecstatic all the time
The Reality:Each woman’s experience of pregnancy is as unique as her ultimate parenting will be and the child she will inevitably birth into this world. And that’s the way nature intended it (diversity prepares our species for survival). That means that there is no cookie-cutter, turn-key pregnancy that you should emulate. Your journey is your own, and embrace it with all the ups and downs, waddles, and weird hair growth, swellings and unfamiliar feelings. And no — you don’t have to feel happy all the time. Growing a life is a big deal, but the good news is that our species is pretty resilient.
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