Old Wives' Tales - Fact or Fiction?

Science Confirms Some Pregnancy Myths

Old wives' tales are essentially part of every culture - and they're as old as cultures themselves. They're part of the oral tradition of virtually every people group and originated long before people were writing things down. Although many have been debunked over time, with the incredible amount of research and scientific study proving them to be simply tales, some have hung on through the ages. That is probably because they offer comforting advice about experiences that are common to all of us, especially things we can't control and usually worry about - things like childbirth and sickness.

What is interesting is that some of these so-called old wives tales actually have been borne out and science backs them up. Who knew? On the other hand, many of them have proven to be irrelevant through technology and medical advances - especially the ones surrounding childbirth and pregnancy. While hanging a ring on a string over your pregnant belly to see if it swings or goes in a circle was supposed to tell you the sex of your child, an ultrasound is far more predictable and accurate, if you really want to know. But, it is infinitely more boring, too.

Since this is a pregnancy site, we'll take a trip into some of the old wives' tales that have been around for years and years, and some that are more recent. You'll be surprised to know that some of them are true, while others are patently false. See if you can figure it out before you get to the end of the tale.

True or False?  Old Wives Pregnancy Tales-Your Guess ...

A long labor means the baby is a boy. Well, even though it seems that this should be tossed into the "don't think so" pile, researchers at Dublin's National Maternity Hospital published a study on 8,000 births that showed mothers of boys were significantly more likely to have longer labor and more complications. How about that? So - if you're pregnant and don't know the sex of the baby, joking about the labor being long and hard and the baby being a boy might be right on the mark.

An old myth that has been hard to lay to rest is hair dye. The story goes that coloring your hair during the first trimester of pregnancy is dangerous to the baby's critical developmental changes. Most doctors tend to err on the side of caution (and we're really glad about that). Although there is no definitive research showing a direct link between hair processing (color, straightening, and permanents) and fetal health, there was an animal study done in 2006 that showed some increased risk of cataracts and eye problems in the offspring of female rats who had hair dye components injected under their skin during pregnancy. So, you might want to err on the side of caution here.

Long, hot baths reduce sperm count. A University of San Francisco study asked men who normally took long, leisurely, hot baths to shower instead and, guess what? Half of the men had sperm counts that rose by 500 percent. (No, that is not a typo - the number is 500 percent). Actually, science has confirmed this one a number of times. No long hot baths for the guy who wants to make babies.

How Much Food Do You Need Now That You're Eating for Two? Pregnancy Diet

"You're eating for two, now - so eat up!" One of the most famous of all pregnancy myths is the food myth that you are now eating for yourself and your baby, so you need to eat a lot more food. Indeed, you are eating for two, but not in the conventional way. The latest info out there on diet for a pregnant woman indicates that the average woman of normal weight only needs an additional 300 calories a day to grow a normal, healthy baby. The really big news item in all of this is the gradually emerging information that food intake, and particularly weight gain during pregnancy, is now looked at on a more personal and individual level. And we say, "It's about time." We are all different and out bodies work differently, utilizing energy in a way that is specific to our needs.

Here's a rather old one for you - a serious old wives' tale - it goes like this: Gain a child, lose a tooth. The New York University College of Dentistry did a study of nearly 3,000 women and the results were surprising. They showed a link between tooth and gum disease and the number of pregnancies a woman had. The fact is that pregnancy actually raises the risk of gingivitis (gum disease). Another one of those, "Who knew?" things.

Who Knew? Pregnancy Knowledge

Isn't it amazing to think that women, with none of the access to scientific data and knowledge that we have today, and often with little or no education, knew these things without "book learning?"

Enjoy more Old Wives Tales in the article in this section.

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