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