Common Pregnancy Myths Dispelled

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Pregnancy Myths Dispelled

Pregnant woman holding her stomach on beach
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Pregnancy myths are statements that often well meaning friends and family bring up to pregnant women that give guidelines that are inaccurate but sound like they might have a grain of truth. These pregnancy myths get repeated often and cause women to contact their doctors and midwives over and over again to try to figure out what might be true and what is pure fiction. Here's the scoop so you can navigate your pregnancy with the facts on your side.

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Pregnancy Myth - Don't Raise Your Arms Over Your Head

Pregnant woman doing yoga and exercising
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Pregnancy Myth:

My grandma told me that if you raise your arms over your head while pregnant, the

umbilical cord wraps around the baby's neck

.

Fact: The umbilical cord runs between your placenta and the baby's umbilicus (stomach area). It is not connected to your arms in any way shape or form. The baby's cord will be around the neck at about a third of all births. This is caused by the frequent twisting and turning that babies do in the uterus before birth.

If this were true you would be unable to do much of anything in pregnancy, from caring for a toddler in your second pregnancy, exercise or other daily tasks.

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Pregnancy Myth: You Can't Birth a Big Baby

Newborn Baby on the Scale
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Pregnancy Myth:

You can't give birth to a baby over 8 lbs vaginally.

Fact: There are plenty of people who will try to tell you that you can't have a "big" baby vaginally. They will suggest that you schedule a c-section or even plan to induce labor. The problem with this myth has multiple parts.

The first problem is that it is very difficult to tell the size of the baby before birth. Some practitioners will guess merely by putting their hands on your abdomen and guessing by what they feel. Others use ultrasound measurements, these measurements are also known for being off in either direction sometimes by 20% or more. This can mean a highly inaccurate weight guesstimate.

It is also important to understand that the weight of the baby doesn't necessarily mean that a baby is too big to fit. A lot of what goes into the baby's birth has to do with the mother's body, which changes in labor due to the hormones, opening and moving, as well as the molding of your baby's bones which change shape to fit through the pelvis, being molded by the force of labor.

Do nothing. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says that you should or plan a c-section for a baby who is suspected to be big. Letting labor start on its own will give your baby the best chance to be born vaginally and safely.

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Pregnancy Myth: Pregnant Women Can't Take a Bath

Laboring Woman in Bath Tub
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Pregnancy Myth:

Pregnant women can't take a bath in pregnancy.

Fact: It is perfectly acceptable to take a bath while pregnant. While it has been rumored that pregnant women can only take showers, baths are perfectly acceptable and do not cause infection. The one exception would be if your water was broken. In fact, a bath in pregnancy can help you feel better and alleviate many of the aches and pains associated with pregnancy. There is also the whole subject of water birth. Just be sure to keep your bath water to 100 degrees or less to avoid overheating.

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Pregnancy Myth: Sex in Pregnancy Will Hurt the Baby

Young Couple Together
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Pregnancy Myth:

Sex in pregnancy

will hurt the baby?

Fact: Sex in pregnancy is not only safe, but wonderful for most couples. The baby is well cushioned in the amniotic sac and can't see anything. Many women find that pregnant sex is very wonderful due to some of the physical changes in their bodies that make orgasms happen more easily or often. Guys tend to enjoy the lack of thinking about birth control. Sure, there are some changes to be expected in your sex life, including fluctuations in your libido, but that's personal choice not obstetrical command. The exceptions to sex in pregnancy include bleeding, preterm labor, and your water being broken. Ask your doctor or midwife if you have any risk factors that would preclude sex in pregnancy.

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Pregnancy Myth: Bad Weather Causes Labor

A pitocin drip in labor
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Pregnancy Myth: Bad weather will cause you to go into labor!

Fact: While one study did show an increase in the number of women who came into the hospital within the 24 hours following a significant drop in the barometric pressure, another study found that it was not clinically significant.

Sources:

King EA; Fleschler RG; Cohen SM. Association between significant decrease in barometric pressure and onset of labor. J Nurse Midwifery, 1997 Jan-Feb, 42:1, 32-4.

Noller KL; Resseguie LJ; Voss V . The effect of changes in atmospheric pressure on the occurrence of the spontaneous onset of labor in term pregnancies. Am J Obstet Gynecol, 1996 Apr, 174:4, 1192-7; discussion 1197-9.

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