Hands Off My Belly! Pregnancy Myth Quiz

by Shawn A. Tassone, MD, and Kathryn M. Landherr, MD

pregnancy questionsExpectant mothers are virtual magnets for unsolicited advice. Mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, sisters-in-law, new mothers, friends, and even strangers offer what seems to be an endless supply of supposedly authoritative opinions on every aspect of pregnancy: A craving for spicy food denotes a boy. Carrying the baby low denotes a girl.

Besides gender predictions, a pregnant woman is also apt to acquire an earful of advice about miscarriage, dietary habits and cravings, hair growth, weight gain, and childbirth. And, of course, everyone wants to touch her belly.

Try your hand at this quiz of myths that every woman -- pregnant or not -- knows she's influenced by at some level. It's great fun finding which one's are yours. See how well you do at separating truth from fiction!

Please circle the correct answer, where T = True and F = False

T   F1. Pregnant women should never eat fish.

T   F2. Induced labor is more painful than natural labor.

T   F3. A woman can’t get pregnant if she has sex during her period.

T   F4. Spicy foods will bring on labor.

T   F5. Certain sexual positions are better than others for conceiving.

T   F6. A woman who miscarries did something wrong.

T   F7. The manner in which the pregnant mother "carries" the baby gives a clue as to the baby's gender.

T   F8. If the baby tightens up in the mother's stomach, she's having a boy.

T   F9. If the fetal heart rate is below 140 beats per minute, it's a boy. If it's above 140, it's a girl.

T   F10. A pregnant woman needs to abstain from sex to protect the baby.

T   F11. Increased cell phone use can hurt an unborn baby.

T   F12. Babies delivered on Friday will have depression.

T   F13. Birth defects are caused mainly by environmental toxins.

T   F14. Breastfeeding will help with delivery of the placenta.

T   F15. Food cravings mean indicate a nutritional deficiency.

T   F16. The majority of multiple births come from infertility treatments.

T   F17. If a woman goes into preterm labor, treatments will stop it.

T   F18. A common vaginal infection can cause preterm labor.


1. FALSE Eat fish in moderation, but avoid those types that have very high levels of mercury including grouper, marlin, orange roughy, tilefish, swordfish, shark, and king mackerel.

2. FALSE It hasn’t been proven that Pitocin, the drug used intravenously to induce labor, affects the uterus in a different manner than natural labor. Pitocin itself does not cause pain; it increases the frequency and power of contractions, thereby increasing discomfort.

3. FALSE Theoretically speaking, a woman can’t get pregnant during her period because no egg is hanging around waiting to meet a sperm. But never say never, because in rare instances, having sex during menstruation may result in pregnancy.

4. FALSE To the best of our knowledge, no evidence or research shows that cayenne pepper, red pepper, or jalapeno peppers cause uterine contractions.

5. TRUE Well, possibly. It may help to avoid positions where gravity is not working in your favor, such as the "woman-on-top" positions, since the semen is more likely to flow away from the cervix.

6. FALSE No woman should blame herself for a miscarriage. The number one reason for miscarriage is a genetic mistake that occurs when egg and sperm meet. It is nature’s stopgap.

7. FALSE There is no truth to this myth. How a woman carries a baby has to do with physical attributes of mother and fetus., not gender.

8. FALSE The “balling up” of the stomach is actually a uterine contraction and is not influenced by the sex of the baby.

9. FALSE Studies show no significant difference between a male and a female fetal heart rate.

10. FALSE ... unless the following conditions are evident: placenta previa, in which the placenta develops in front of the cervix; preterm labor; bleeding; or an incompetent (weakened) cervix.

11. FALSE Currently, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has found no link between cell phone use and problems with pregnancies, but the question remains whether or not the child will have developmental issues after birth. For now, we feel it a good precaution to decrease a pregnant woman’s belly exposure to cell phones. This means setting the phone away from her and using a speaker option if possible or a wireless ear apparatus like a Bluetooth headset.

12. FALSE Biologically and scientifically speaking, no relationship exists between the day of the week and the personality of the infant.

13. FALSE Without a doubt, certain environmental toxins can cause a plethora of birth defects, but many birth defects are considered multifactorial, meaning that multiple causes contributed to the process rather than one specific cause.

14. TRUE When a baby breastfeeds, the mother’s body releases oxytocin, which causes uterine contractions, which help expel the uterus.

15. FALSE (with an exception) Cravings have been studied at length, but no definite understanding of them exists. If a pregnant woman craves healthy foods, give in to the craving; if she craves junk food or fast food, find a healthy, equally satisfying substitute. The exception: if she starts craving odd things like chalk or tires or paint, she should consult a healthcare provider, because the craving could signify an underlying issue like anemia.

16. FALSE Although multiple births do have a high occurrence where fertility drugs have been used, the majority of twins and other multiples occur naturally.

17. FALSE There is no medication on the market today that has been to shown to completely stop preterm labor.

18. TRUE A number of vaginal infections can instigate preterm labor and contraction.

From Hands Off My Belly! The Pregnant Woman's Survival Guide to Myths, Mothers, and Moods.

Shawn A. Tassone, MD, FACOG, and Kathryn M. Landherr, MD, FACOG (Tucson, AZ), are the co-owners of La Dea Women’s Health in Tucson, AZ, where Dr. Tassone is the medical director and his wife, Dr. Landherr, is a practicing physician. Both Drs. Tassone and Landherr completed a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and are board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. Each is also an Associate Fellow of Integrative Medicine under Dr. Andrew Weil at the University of Arizona. check out their blog and website or following them on Twitter.

Copyright © Shawn A. Tassone and Kathryn M. Landherr. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.