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Busting myths about pregnancy

Wednesday October 30 2019

Pregnancy

Due to the unknown nature of some of the symptoms experienced during pregnancy, many theories have been floated in a bid to give insight into the possible causes. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

AGEWA MAGUT
By AGEWA MAGUT
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Pregnancy is a mysterious period in a woman’s life.

Despite the fact that women have been conceiving since human beings appeared on the earth, a baby bump still puzzles many.

And due to the unknown nature of some of the symptoms experienced during this time, many theories have been floated in a bid to give insight into the possible causes.

This has created room for outrageous myths related to pregnancy, with some, sadly, being believed world over.

Here are some of the myths and truths about pregnancy today:

Myth 1: The shape of belly can predict the gender of the baby.

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Many people will claim to know the gender of the baby depending on the shape of the expectant woman’s belly.

Legend says that if you are carrying low, you’re having a boy. If your belly is higher up, it’s a girl.

Many people will claim to know the gender of

Many people will claim to know the gender of the baby depending on the shape of the expectant woman’s belly. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The truth:According to Healthline.com, the position of the baby is determined by the strength of the abdominal muscles. Stomach muscles stretch with subsequent pregnancies.

So, if a woman’s belly is higher up, it probably just means she has strong abdominal muscles or it’s her first pregnancy.

One has to wait for the delivery or have an ultrasound scan to find out the true sex of the baby.

Myth 2: Your face shape and fullness during pregnancy can predict the gender.

This myth holds that a woman with a full face, acne, or other skin problems during the pregnancy is carrying a girl, who ‘steals’ the beauty of the mother.

On the other hand, a smooth complexion and a prettier mother is said to be is carrying a boy.

The truth:The face shape and skin condition during pregnancy are influenced by a number of other factors, like diet and genetics.

Myth 3: Spicy foods during pregnancy cause blindness in babies.

There are a number of spice-related myths and pregnancy including the one that eating spicy food will cause the unborn baby to be blind.

Others say, spices, especially chilli, will ‘burn’ the skin of the baby, resulting in light coloured birthmarks.

spicy foods

Eating spicy foods during pregnancy is perfectly safe. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The truth:Eating spicy foods during pregnancy is perfectly safe, and is recommended as it gives the baby a variety of flavours to experience even before birth.

However, spicy dishes may lead to heartburn and a pregnancy safe antacid should be sought from the doctor.

Myth 4: Experiencing heartburn during pregnancy means your baby will be born with hair.

Legend has it that a mother that experiences mild to severe heartburn will have a baby born with a full head of hair.

The truth:Studies have been done to get to the root of this myth and surprisingly positive results have been realised.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore found that when pregnant women reported moderate heartburn, they had hairy newborns 82 percent of the time; the majority of heartburn-free women gave birth to bald babies.

The researchers think there may be a connection

The researchers think there may be a connection between pregnancy hormones and the foetal hair growth.

Another study by Costigan KA1, Sipsma HL, DiPietro JA in 2006 published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information also found a correlation between heartburn and babies with magnificent manes.

The researchers think there may be a connection between pregnancy hormones relaxing part of the lower oesophagus being responsible for foetal hair growth.

Myth 5: Eating certain foods can make your baby dark or fair.

Some people believe that drinking copious amounts of Coca Cola make a baby light skinned.

In Kenya, legend has it that taking the soft drink will result in a lighter skinned baby as the liquid ‘washes’ the womb and possibly impurities that would darken the baby’s skin.

Some people believe that certain drinks ‘wash’

Some people believe that certain drinks ‘wash’ the womb and possibly impurities that would darken the baby’s skin. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The truth: The colour of the baby depends on the genes of the parents only.

Myth 6: You should be at complete rest during pregnancy.

Pregnant women are sometimes advised by well meaning family members, friends and even colleagues to abstain from any physical activities during pregnancy.

It is believed that physical exercise is dangerous for the unborn.

The truth:  According to Dr Bimla Bansal, a gynaecologist based in India, moving around and exercising (at expert recommendation) is in fact good for mental and physical well-being.

It also helps keep a check on an expectant mother’s weight gain.

“It’s completely healthy to take a stroll in the mornings and evenings and further exercise to keep you fit,” Dr Bansal advises.

Doctors say exercising is good for the mental

Doctors say exercising is good for the mental and physical well-being of the expectant woman. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Myth 7: The mother’s craving indicates the gender of the baby.

Some people think if a woman craves sweet foods, she may be carrying a girl, whereas salty cravings may indicate a boy.

The truth:According to Medical News Today, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that food cravings during pregnancy can indicate the sex of the baby.

Myth 8: You should now eat for two.

Some people advise pregnant women to eat twice as much as they are now two people.

It is recommended that an expectant mum should

It is recommended that an expectant mum should eat only 300 calories more a day. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The truth: “Being pregnant doesn’t mean you should be gobbling up food all the time because you are now ‘double’. Yes, you need to take some extra calories for proper development of the baby but that doesn’t mean you should be eating twice over,” Dr Bansal says.

It is recommended that an expectant mum should eat only 300 calories more a day, which add up to three glasses of milk, or two slices of buttered bread with two eggs.