15 myths about pregnancy and birth – The midwife explains
Once you announce your pregnancy, you can expect to get advice and tips from many people in your circle of friends and family. Most are well-meaning but it can be difficult to know which advice is good and which is not. Our midwife Julie has made a list of the most well-known myths about pregnancy and childbirth.
You cannot get pregnant if you are stressed
This is not true. We know that stress can prolong the time it takes to get pregnant and may have a bad influence on sperm motility and quality, but you can easily still get pregnant even if you are very stressed or worried. Studies on women going through fertility treatment have shown that their stress levels do not influence their fertility.
Decreased fertility may be due to birth control pills or other types of contraception
This myth is not true. Even long-term use of birth control pills does not influence your chances of getting pregnant. It is only in the first few months after stopping birth control pills that your fertility may be affected. After this, there is no difference between using birth control pills or not. When using a spiral, you are just as fertile as anyone else right after you have had it removed.
Everyone can have children through fertility treatment
Unfortunately, not. Although most countries have good treatment options, there is no guarantee that fertility treatment will be successful. The probability of having a child with the help of fertility treatment depends a lot on the woman's age. Women in their early 20s have twice the chance of pregnancy per treatment as women in their late 30s. In addition, it matters what the cause of infertility is.
Age does not affect men's sperm quality
Although men can have children throughout their whole life, age also influences men's fertility. Studies show that it takes longer for a woman to get pregnant the older the man is.
Having your legs up during and after sex will increase the chances of getting pregnant
This myth is untrue. No studies have been able to show any connection between sex positions and chances of pregnancy.
You can predict the gender of the baby from the shape of the belly
The answer to this is no. You can’t tell from the shape of the belly whether it is a boy or a girl.
The shape of the abdomen depends on your physique, abdominal muscles, the position of the uterus and the size and position of the baby.
This myth is hard to dispel as it will be true in about 50% of cases. The only way to find out about the baby's gender is by a placenta biopsy, where a genetic test is performed. Another "almost" safe way to know the sex is via an ultrasound scan. However, I have experienced that this can be incorrect in rare cases.
Sex during pregnancy can harm the baby
No, this myth is untrue. During your pregnancy, you can still have sex, unless you have been advised against this by your doctor or midwife due to specific conditions in your pregnancy.
Some are afraid of harming the baby during intercourse, but there is no need to fear this, as the female body is built to take care of the fetus.
However, something you should be aware of is the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, as these can be transmitted to the baby. Diseases such as herpes, genital warts, chlamydia and HIV may be transmitted to the baby during birth. I recommend that you use a condom as you would normally do if you were having sex with people at risk of infection.
You can prevent stretch marks with cream and oils
Unfortunately, there are no effective remedies for stretch marks, so you might as well save yourself the money and the hassle. Stretch marks are genetically determined and are annoying to most people. But unfortunately, nothing can be done to reduce them, remove them or prevent them. If you gain a lot of weight during pregnancy, there is a greater risk that you will get stretch marks.
If you have cosmetic discomfort from stretch marks after childbirth, laser treatment can remove the redness. But in general, no treatment is certainly scientifically elucidated. As laser technology gets better and better, this is probably the best bid for treatment.
Fortunately, stretch marks often become smaller after birth and become the same colour as your skin over time.
Pregnant women have more nausea if they are expecting a girl
This myth can be true. The more nausea you have, the more likely you are to expect a girl. However, studies have shown that 70% of pregnant women experience nausea in the first 3 months of pregnancy, so it cannot be used as an exclusion method. The nausea is related to the amount of pregnancy hormone in the body, and women who are expecting girls produce higher amounts of the pregnancy hormone (HCG). If you are expecting twins, you will also experience nausea more often as the HCG level is higher with twins.
You can read about pregnancy symptoms in this blog post.
Breastfeeding makes your breasts sag
It is not breastfeeding that gives sagging breasts. It is the gland enlargement during pregnancy that makes the breasts sag more than before. You can, therefore, unfortunately not prevent sagging breasts. All pregnant women will experience this, breastfeeding or not.
Sex induces labour
There may be some truth to this myth. The release of oxytocin, which promotes contractions, is very high when you are intimate together - and especially if you have an orgasm. So, there is no reason to hold back on the sex part when you are close to 40 weeks and don’t want to wait for the baby any longer.
At the same time, the man's semen contains a very small amount of the hormone used to induce labour. However, it is not scientifically proved that sex can induce birth.
All babies are born with blue eyes
This myth is also true. The reason for this is, that there is no colour on the retina and so the eyes appear blue.
The pigment of the eye that gives the colour is not formed at birth, so the blue or blue-grey colour you see is due to the visible blood vessels and connective tissue in the iris, which is almost transparent at birth. The colour of the eye is formed during the first year of life.
If you want to read about the baby’s development during pregnancy, you can read our pregnancy guide to the baby’s development.
Eating your placenta after giving birth is healthy
This myth is untrue. There are no positive effects of eating the placenta after giving birth. There is an increasing interest in eating the placenta among postpartum women, especially in the United States. The placenta can be eaten raw, cooked, roasted, dehydrated, or encapsulated or through smoothies and tinctures. The most frequently used preparation appears to be placenta encapsulation after steaming and dehydration. Many studies have been made on the area and overall, the conclusion is that there are no positive effects. There are simply not enough nutrients and hormones left in the placenta to benefit the mother or baby through breastfeeding.
On the contrary, there have been a few cases where the placenta has not been processed properly and therefore has contained infectious bacteria. Other possible risks for mother and child have not been well researched and it is therefore not possible to say with certainty whether the placenta may contain substances that can be harmful.
You can’t get pregnant while breastfeeding
Some couples use breastfeeding as a form of "natural contraception", but breastfeeding does not protect you from getting pregnant shortly after birth. Even though the ovulation and menstrual hormones are suppressed by the different hormones during breastfeeding, you can get pregnant as soon as the menstrual cycle has started. It is very individual when the menstrual cycle starts after giving birth. Ovulation, and the possibility of getting pregnant, comes about 2 weeks before your period, so even if your period has not started, you don’t know if or when you are ovulating.
If you want advice on your diet during pregnancy, read our other blog post from midwife Julie, where she explains what to eat and what to avoid when you are pregnant.
Your feet can grow during and after your pregnancy
This is true. For some, the arch becomes lower and the foot longer during and after pregnancy, and this is permanent. Some women simply get a new shoe size after being pregnant. This is probably because the ligaments loosen up during and after pregnancy.
If you found this article about myths and pregnancy interesting, we can recommend you to read our blog post about childbirth and what you need to know before giving birth.
My name is Julie, and I am a trained midwife working at Cryos Customer Care. I have been a midwife for 6 years and have experience from many different maternity wards, including a stay in Uganda. I provide Cryos’ blog with expert knowledge about fertility, pregnancy and birth. I hope to bring you a step closer to make your dream of having a baby come true.JulieCryos