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Five myths about pregnancy

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Five myths about pregnancy

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Pregnancy is a unique time with unique challenges; it’s understandable to want to do all you can to deliver a healthy baby, but how do you decide what’s best? Your own health care professionals can be an important resource, but what about things you read or hear between visits? You may not want to be calling your doctor to double-check everything.
Even for those things to which no answer is known, one thing is for sure: you’ll get advice about it. No matter how popular, advice that is clearly wrong is worth ignoring.
Here’s a sample of what I heard:
Tale: You can determine your baby’s gender by the position of sexual intercourse and you can predict it by how you are carrying.
Truth: The gender of your baby is determined by the father, whose sperm carries an X chromosome and a Y chromosome wheras the mother has two X chromosomes. The position of intercourse has no clear effect on which chromosome, X or Y, successfully fertilizes the egg.
The baby’s size and position determine how one “carries” a baby. For example, during late pregnancy, the baby’s head “drops” lower into the pelvis in preparation for delivery; that will make it seem that the mother is carrying “low,” but it happens for male and female babies. A mother-to-be may be “carrying high” simply because the baby is large, not because of its gender.
Tale: The worse the morning sickness, the more likely it is you’re having a girl.
Truth: Most experts believe this is truly a myth. However, several studies have found that among women with severe morning sickness bad enough to require admission to the hospital, slightly more than half (53 per cent to 56 per cent) delivered girls, so perhaps there is some truth to this idea. Then again, even among those with the worst morning sickness, the male and female offspring were nearly 50-50 and whether this applies to milder cases is unknown.
No one knows exactly why morning sickness (also known as hyperemesis gravidarum) occurs, though it has long been thought to relate to elevated hormone levels (including progesterone, estrogen and/or human chorionic gonadotropin, or HCG).
Which hormone, if any of these, is most important remains a matter of speculation, and several other theories have been proposed such as zinc deficiency, genetic factors and psychological factors.
At least one study found that women carrying a female foetus had higher HCG levels than with a male foetus. If true, that could explain the connection.
Tale: If you raise your arms above your head while pregnant (as when you are hanging up clothes on a clothesline), the baby will get the cord wrapped around its neck.
Truth: Up to 25 per cent of foetuses have the umbilical cord wrapped around the neck; it is the baby’s activity in the womb and perhaps bad luck, not the mother’s activities during pregnancy that determine whether the cord is wrapped around the baby’s neck.
Another important risk factor is a long umbilical cord but, again, that may have more to do with foetal activity and is not something a pregnant woman can prevent. The good news is that nearly all of these babies develop normally and are successfully delivered.
Tale: If you get a lot of heartburn during pregnancy, your baby will have a lot of hair.
Truth: Heartburn is common during pregnancy because as the stomach is pushed higher by the growing baby and expanding uterus, it becomes easier for acid to move backwards (or “reflux”) from the stomach into the lower esophagus. Acid is irritating to the esophagus and causes the discomfort we know as heartburn.
Remaining upright after eating, sleeping with the head of the bed at a slight elevation, and antacid medications (many of which are considered safe during pregnancy) can be helpful. Check with your obstetrician before taking any medication during pregnancy, including over-the-counter remedies.
Tale: Avoid sleeping on your back or, always sleep on your left side.
Truth: During the later stages of pregnancy, the uterus and baby may be large enough to press on a large vein, the inferior vena cava, and reduce blood flow from the lower body (and uterus) back to the heart. But this tends to matter only in certain circumstances – such as prolonged labour, if blood pressure is high, if the kidneys are not functioning properly, or if there is a problem with foetal development.
In those situations, lying on the left side may be somewhat helpful, but for normal, healthy women enjoying a routine, successful pregnancy, the best position to sleep in is the one that’s most comfortable.