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From carrying low or high to craving sugar or salt, some pregnancy myths claim to reveal whether you're having a little boy or girl. Then, others warn against taking baths. So, what’s the deal? Are these old wives’ tales true or false?

When you learn you’ll soon welcome a little one into your life, it’s second nature to start planning as much as you can. From the baby shower to the color of the nursery, getting everything ready for the big day is an exciting part of your pregnancy journey. 

But can these 6 pregnancy myths and old wives’ tales help you to prepare? Let's dive in!

Myth: Carrying high or low determines the sex of the baby

Some claim you can tell the gender of your baby by whether you’re carrying high or low. If you’re carrying low, they’ll say you’re having a boy. Carrying high? They’re convinced it’s a girl. 

The truth is that how you carry depends on your body type and individual situation. “If this isn’t your first pregnancy, you’ll likely carry lower because your stomach muscles have changed – they’re more elastic,” explains Kathryn Steckel, certified nurse midwife at Geisinger Bloomsburg Hospital. “If you’re carrying higher, it’s because your stomach muscles are less elastic.”

Myth: Heartburn when pregnant? Your baby has a lot of hair!

“It’s been said that the severity of your heartburn means your baby will be born with lots of hair,” says Ms. Steckel. Some studies have shown there is a correlation between the severity of a mother’s heartburn and the amount of hair her child is born with.

On the other hand, some studies reveal there is no correlation. “It’s more likely that the heartburn is caused by the hormones that cause a baby’s hair growth,” says Ms. Steckel.

Myth: Your partner gained weight, so you’re having a girl

The story goes that if your partner puts one weight during your pregnancy, you’re having a baby girl.

Spoiler alert: This just simply isn’t true. If your partner is putting on weight, it likely has nothing to do with your pregnancy. 

“This is different from sympathetic pregnancy, also known as couvade syndrome,” says Ms. Steckel. “The symptoms a partner may experience during sympathetic pregnancy include nausea, heartburn, leg cramps, anxiety and depression.” 

Myth: It’s not OK to take a bath when pregnant

We’ll come right out and say it: This one isn’t true. Bath time is no danger to baby! “Your womb insulates and protects your baby, so you have nothing to fear when taking a bath,” says Ms. Steckel.

This myth is based on old information about how the body works, and while it isn’t true, expecting moms should stay away from saunas and hot tubs where bacteria can thrive.

Myth: Breastfeeding acts as birth control

Some mothers may not want to get pregnant soon after having a baby and there’s a belief that breastfeeding can serve as a form of contraception. It’s been said that exclusively breastfeeding your baby every four hours for six months after they're born will stop your body from ovulating. 

“While this may work for some people, it isn’t a foolproof form of contraception,” says Ms. Steckel. “If you don’t want to have another baby soon, you may want to use another form of birth control.”

Myth: Sex when pregnant can hurt the baby

There are a number of myths that go along with this one: “The baby will know! Sex can induce labor! We can harm the fetus!” Overall, sex while pregnant is perfectly safe. 

“Unless your pregnancy is high risk, any bleeding or cramping after sex is not abnormal,” explains Ms. Steckel. “Of course, talk with your doctor about any concerns or questions you may have.” 

There’s a good chance that you’ve heard some of these (and other) old wives’ tales during your pregnancy. While they’re all in good fun, always remember your doctor can help you navigate any questions you have along the way – based on myths or not.

Next steps:

Make an appointment with Kathryn Steckel, CNM
Learn more about pregnancy care
Make a prenatal appointment