Common Pregnancy Myths Dispelled

Pregnancy myths are statements that well-meaning friends and family bring up to pregnant women 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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Don't Raise Your Arms Over Your Head

Pregnant woman doing yoga and exercising
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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.

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 during pregnancy, from caring for a toddler, exercise, or other daily tasks.


You Can't Birth a Big Baby

Newborn Baby on the Scale
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Myth: You can't give birth to a baby weighing over 8 pounds 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 first problem with this is that it is very difficult to tell the size of a 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, but these measurements may be off, in either direction, sometimes by 15% or more. This can mean a highly inaccurate weight estimate.

It is also important to understand that the weight of the baby doesn't necessarily mean that a baby is too big to fit through the birth canal.

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.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says that you should not plan a C-section unless the baby is estimated to weigh at least 5,000 grams (11 pounds), or 4,500 grams (9.9 pounds) in women with diabetes. If your baby's weight is below these limits, letting labor start on its own will give your baby the best chance to be born vaginally and safely.


Pregnant Women Can't Take a Bath

Laboring Woman in Bath Tub
Photo © Science Photo Library/Getty Images

Myth: Pregnant women can't take a bath.

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.

A bath in pregnancy can help you feel better and alleviate many of the aches and pains associated with pregnancy. Just be sure to keep your bath water to 100 degrees or less. Do not use a hot tub, and monitor your body temperature when bathing to make sure you are not overheating.


Sex in Pregnancy Will Hurt the Baby

Young Couple Together
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Myth: Sex in pregnancy will hurt the baby.

Fact: Sex during 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 wonderful due to some of the physical changes in their bodies that make orgasms happen more easily or often.

Sure, there are some changes to be expected in your sex life, including fluctuations in your libido, but having sex is a personal choice, not a medical command.

The exceptions to sex in pregnancy include bleeding, preterm labor, cervical incompetence, problems with your placenta, and your water ​being broken. Ask your doctor or midwife if you have any risk factors that would preclude sex in pregnancy.


Bad Weather Causes Labor

A pitocin drip in labor
Photo © Marilyn Nieves/Getty Images

Myth: Bad weather will cause you to go into labor!

Fact: While one study published in 1997 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 published in 1996 found that it was not clinically significant. A study published in 2007 found a slight increase in deliveries in Japan when the barometric pressure was below average.

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