The Facts About Common Pregnancy Claims

Pregnancy claims are statements that well-meaning friends and family bring up to pregnant people that are inaccurate but sound like they might have a grain of truth. These ideas get repeated often and cause pregnant people 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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5:52

What Do You Have to Give Up While Pregnant?

1

Raising Your Arms Over Your Head During Pregnancy Is Safe

Pregnant woman doing relaxing exercises with a fitball
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It was once falsely believed by some that if a pregnant person raised their arms their head while pregnant, the umbilical cord would wrap around the baby's neck. It's not clear where this claim originated but there is no truth to it. The umbilical cord runs between the placenta and the baby's umbilicus (stomach area). It is not connected to the movement of a pregnant person's arms in any way.

The baby's cord will be around the neck at about a third of all births. This condition is caused by the frequent twisting and turning that babies do in the uterus before birth, not anything the pregnant person does or doesn't do.

2

You Can Birth a "Big" Baby Vaginally

Newborn Baby on the Scale

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It's common for pregnant people to be fearful that they won't be able to birth their babies vaginally and will require intervention or a C-section if the baby appears to be larger than average. In practice, this isn't necessarily the case.

First, it is actually very difficult to tell the size of a baby before birth. Some providers will make an estimate 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 plays a part in the baby's birth has to do with the pregnant person's body, which changes in labor due to the hormones, opening and moving, as well as the molding of the 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 pregnant people 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.

3

You Can Take a Bath While Pregnant

Pregnant woman running bath
Andersen Ross Photography Inc / Getty Images

It is perfectly acceptable to take a bath while pregnant. While it has been rumored that pregnant people 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. 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.

4

You Can Have Sex During Pregnancy

Couple lying in bed together
Jorn Georg Tomter / Getty Images

Many people falsely believe that sex during pregnancy will hurt the baby; this isn't true. 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 pregnant people find that pregnant sex is wonderful due to some of the physical changes in their bodies that can 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 or not having sex is a personal choice, not a medical command.

While sex is generally safe during pregnancy, it's generally recommended to avoid vaginal penetration if the pregnant person is experiencing vaginal bleeding, preterm labor, cervical incompetence, problems with their placenta, and or their water has broken. Ask your doctor or midwife if you have any risk factors that would preclude sex in pregnancy.

5

You Won't Go Into Labor Just Because of Bad Weather

Pregnant woman laboring in hospital
Layland Masuda / Getty Images

Despite common claims that bad weather causes pregnant people to go into labor, research says otherwise. While one study published in 1997 did show an increase in the number of pregnant people 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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A Word From Verywell

During pregnancy, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by all of advice provided by family, friends, and others who have good intentions—but may not have all the facts. When in doubt, contact your healthcare provider with questions or concerns about the health of you and your baby.

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Article Sources
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  7. Akutagawa O, Nishi H, Isaka K. Spontaneous delivery is related to barometric pressure. Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2007;275(4):249-54. doi:10.1007/s00404-006-0259-3