Here is the second instalment of pregnancy myths that plagued me when I was pregnant with my first child.
I agree, some of them sound a little out there but they were real concerns of mine when I was newly pregnant. And let’s face it ladies – there is A LOT of conflicting information circulating on the internet, so it can be hard to sift through to find any sort of truth. Unfortunately, the more digging you do the weirder shit you find, don’t you think?
Anyway, let’s start off with one of my fears – flying while pregnant. I flew quite a lot when I was pregnant with Julianna, as mum was sick and sadly passed away, so I was going back and forth between Sydney and starting my new life with hubby up north.
The weirdest thing that happened was getting a nosebleed shortly after take-off. It stopped after a few minutes and wasn’t really painful, but it did provoke a little anxiety as I started to overthink various scenarios.
Like what if my waters break while I’m up in the air? Is there a doctor on board? Do they have enough room to actually lay me on the ground if needed? How clean is the ground anyway? Do they have lots of towels (in the movies they always need a shitload of towels)?! Yes, a highly unlikely scenario, but by the time I finished playing out various scenarios in my head the plane was touching down in Sydney.
In reality, shit can happen. But the chances of you giving birth on an aeroplane are pretty slim.
Here’s some professional advice from OBGYN, Dr David Addenbrooke, to separate the facts from the fears.
Can flying on an aeroplane harm the baby?
Not really. The change in atmospheric pressure won’t cause your waters to break or anything like that…
There is a very small amount of environmental radiation exposure from air travel. In the same way that we limit things like x-rays in pregnancy, if you are constantly flying in pregnancy, the cumulative radiation exposure could theoretically be a problem, though this is more in theory than evidence based.
The main issues with flying is to be aware of the increased risk of blood clotting in the legs while pregnant (DVT). Stay hydrated and do your calf exercises. The other thing is nobody wants to see a woman labouring on a plane. For this reason a lot of airlines will not want you flying when you are over 36 weeks, because the odds of you labouring are higher.
Will sex hurt the baby?
I mean usual in terms of the way people typically have sex (maybe avoid the toys and acrobatics), but also usual in terms of specific cirumstances that can affect some pregnancies.
There are two medical conditions which could make it somewhat dangerous to have sex.
1) If your waters have broken prematurely. Some doctors theorise this could increase the risk of bacterial infection rising into the uterus, known as “chorioamnionitis” and the main risk in this situation while waiting for baby to get mature enough for birth.
2) If the placenta is covering the cervix, known as “placenta previa“, because pressure on the cervix from sex can increase the chance of causing a bleed under the placenta, known as an abruption. Don’t be worried if your placenta is “low-lying” though, as this is common, and if you haven’t had bleeding issues you can likely still have sex, but check with your obstetrician.
Will I really crave weird shit like coal or sardines?
Maybe. The medical term for this is Pica, where you crave non-nutritional substances. However in pregnancy usually they are not strictly non-nutritional. Just weird things that have some of the nutritional factors your body is short in. Also your hormones are all up and down and cravings like you may get during period time may be a thing. There is also the morning sickness stuff and cravings may counteract the nausea to allow you to at least get some calorie intake.
Is there any truth to the old wive’s tale that salty cravings equates with having a boy and sweet cravings equates with having a girl?
No idea. Probably not though.
The more common belief is that the speed of the baby’s heart tells you if it is a boy or a girl. I believe this is also not true.
There are two things that tell you the gender before baby is born – genetic testing and ultrasound.
What happens if I have more than one cup of coffee? Will the baby really get addicted to caffeine or have heart palpitations?
Don’t know about the addiction thing, but if you have a caffeine overdose it can cause the baby’s heart rate to increase temporarily. There is also an association between high caffeine intake and small birth weight.
Caffeine should be limited in pregnancy, but does not need to be completely excluded. 1 or 2 cups of regular strength coffee during pregnancy is fine. No six-packs of red bull though.
Does your mother’s experience of pregnancy and birth influence your own experience? i.e. If she had an easy pregnancy and birth will you most likely have the same?
A little bit. I often talk to patients about their mother or sister’s experience.
For one thing, you can have a similar body shape to your mum, which may contribute to the mechanics of labour. Those “child-bearing” hips you inherited may end up being a good thing.
Collagen has a genetic component, and how easily things stretch (or tear) can be inheritted.
Social and lifestyle factors can be learnt and have an impact. Things like body weight from diet, or smoking.
There is a little bit of truth in that thing about how big you and your husband were as babies being a prediction of how big your baby will be.
So I would say yes on this question. But remember 50% of that kid inside you is your partner’s genetics and that is important too. You can also have an impact on the interventional stuff and coping by being better prepared.
Does the shape and height of your baby bump indicate the sex of your Bub?
No, I don’t think so. Low and wide does not mean girl and pointy up top boy. This is not a thing. All bumps are different for all women.
But I do think women carry baby’s differently in themselves when the baby is a different gender. Nothing quantifiable though. Just a hunch I guess. And often it is not so much the shape of the bump. It may be more how they feel, nausea and fluid swelling etc.
I swear Cherie was allergic to the Y chromosomes in her boy pregnancies
If I eat peanut butter can the baby have an anaphylactic reaction?
The placenta has a barrier which prevents a lot of things from crossing between your blood and baby. Some antibodies will cross and some won’t but none of these will cause an allergy. Also, just because you have an allergy does not mean baby will. The baby has its own immune system which is quite immature in utero but is not known to be directly stimulated by maternal exposures. This is why when we give you the whooping cough vaccine we describe it as “passive immunisation” for the baby. The baby will not be activating its own immune system, but your antibodies cross the placenta in this circumstance protecting the baby indirectly.
If you have an anaphylactic reaction during pregnancy this will still be bad news for baby, because if you can’t breathe, baby doesn’t breathe either.
And lastly, do more women go into labour on a full moon than any other time of the lunar cycle?
Yes, they totally do. Though I am quoting this with zero evidence and without checking the lunar calendar against my delivery books. But I really think there is a thing here. I also see similar stuff happening when crazy weather changes occur. Like a shift in humidity and barometric pressure causing waters to pop all across the region. I presume the gravitational attraction of the moon has a similar effect on the waters of the uterus as it does to the tides.
So that’s it for now ladies. I hope we’ve shed light on some common myths that you’ve been curious about.
I’m currently in week 32 of my fifth pregnancy and still get confused when I hear about new myths. Goes to show no matter how many children you have you can never learn enough.
But before you reach for your phone and do a deep dive on the internet about any concerns talk to your midwife or obstetrician first. It’s their job to support and guide you through this important time.
And no, there is no such thing as a stupid question; chances are they’ve heard it before!
Have any myths plagued you during pregnancy? If so, which ones?
Until next time,
Your very pregnant friend and parenting peer