10 lies people love to tell you when you're pregnant
Oh my gosh, if there's ever a time in your life when you will get so much unsolicited advice, it's when you're pregnant. Everyone is an expert on pregnancy, and you are gonna hear what they have to say. Strangers will touch your belly (which is not OK). People will comment on your body (the baby always looks smaller or bigger than it should to them). They will ask you so many personal questions.. are you dilated yet?.. Did you take fertility drugs? Um, that's none of your business.
They will absolutely tell you the details of their childbirth experience... the good, the bad and the embarrassing. I've often been trapped in the corner of a kid's birthday party hearing a birth experience that seemed too crazy to be exactly true. They don't care. They are the expert. Your doctor didn't tell you about this? She just must not know, right?
So here we go...
I hear these things said over and over, but there is absolutely no truth to any of these...
1. "I can predict the sex of your baby because..."
People love to tell you if they think your baby is a boy or girl. The gender of your baby doesn't change anything about your pregnancy - not how sick you get, or how much acne you get or how you "carry" the baby. Also female and male babies don't have different heart rates. Gender does not change the heart rate.
2. "The baby will have a lot of hair because you have so much heartburn."
Heartburn is common in pregnancy, due to the hormones and the size of the baby. Progesterone relaxes the opening to the stomach and the baby presses on your stomach, so heartburn is common. It has nothing to do with how much hair the baby has.
3. "You're carrying high or low."
I never understood this one. All babies grow in the uterus which starts in the pelvis and then grows up and out. You don't carry some babies way up high. Some babies are bigger than others, some may lay upside down or sideways for awhile, but they all grow up out of the pelvis. With first pregnancies, the baby tends to drop into the birth canal early, but with pregnancies after that babies usually don't drop until the very end. It's all normal and just doesn't mean anything.
OK, so the "lies" above are harmless. No big deal at all. It's fun to speculate about the baby. But now the rest are meant just to make you worry or feel bad, and these are the ones that really annoy me...
4. "You can't sleep on your back."
Ugh, sleep positions. Everyone loves to tell you not to sleep on your back, but you certainly can... as long as you're comfortable.
Once you're full-term, you may find that sleeping on your back is uncomfortable, because now your uterus is big enough to compress the blood flow back to your heart, but... It will affect YOU before it affects the baby, so you can sleep in any position that's comfortable. (spoiler alert: no position is comfortable once you're full-term).
5. "It's bad if the baby moves too much."
Sometimes patients will worry that the baby is moving too much, but there's no such thing. Babies are more active on some days and quieter on others. Once you get into your third trimester, you should feel the baby move everyday. They tend to move less during growth spurts and are more active in between. You may feel the baby move less if you are really busy and on your feet all day. You may feel the baby a lot more if you are just sitting or laying around all day.
6. "Hiccups means there's a problem."
All babies get hiccups.
It's perfectly normal.
Baby will get hiccups after she's born too.
It doesn't mean anything bad at all.
7. "When you lose your mucous plug, it means you're going into labor."
The mucous plug means nothing. It's just cervical mucous. It may mean your cervix is open or dilated, but it doesn't mean you are in labor. Please don't page your OBGYN because you lost your mucous plug - we will tell you to wait until real signs of labor start.
8. Don't do 'that' because it will cause the umbilical cord...
OK, you cannot cause the umbilical cord to wrap around the baby. Not by wearing high heels, or reaching above your head, or any of the weird things I've heard that make no sense. About 25% of all babies are born with the cord around their neck and it's no big deal. Sometimes, it affects baby when it gets pulled on while you're pushing baby out in labor - we can see this on the monitor. But we resolve this with position changes and resting when needed. Let's all stop suggesting that we're endangering our babies by doing normal daily activities, OK?!
9. "The epidural will slow your labor or hurt the baby."
Why does anyone else care if you get an epidural? Do they want to see you in pain? The modern epidural of today does not affect your labor progress. We can turn the medicine in the epidural up or down as needed. I've seen an epidural relax patients and allow the baby to drop into the birth canal when the labor had stopped. I've also never understood this argument anyway because who cares if the labor takes an extra 30 minutes (yep, that's it) more but is a better experience? The epidural makes for a more enjoyable birth experience - there's no doubt about that. The medicine that runs through the epidural does not go into your bloodstream or go to the baby. Let me just say that again - it does NOT affect the baby. That's why it's safe in labor - we wouldn't offer it otherwise.
10. "A c-section will affect your ability to breastfeed or bond with the baby."
Also a really mean thing to say, right? OK, I personally promise that if your baby needs to be born by a c-section, it will not affect anything about your bond with the baby or your ability to breastfeed. Nor does the baby care or know how it was born. Later on both you and your baby will only appreciate being born safely. A healthy mom and baby will bond no matter which way that baby came out of her, because there is no one like mom. Also it takes 72 hours for breastmilk to come in. No matter what. Let's stop with the guilt.
Pregnancy makes us more emotional and we tend to dwell on the crazy things people say. I'd like to say it gets better, but I think it only gets worse once the baby comes. Try to remember to take everything with a grain of salt, and seek out advice from smart, experienced, happy and well-adjusted people.
I wrote this article to try to give you some peace of mind. Next time someone tells you something that just doesn't seem right but you still worry anyway, you'll remember that they really have no idea what they're talking about.
And next time you see a pregnant woman, please just tell her how great she looks and move along. Let's try to resist the urge to scare the crap out of each other...