Top Pregnancy Myths Debunked

The minute you announce you’re pregnant, well-meaning friends, family and even strangers feel the urge to share their pregnancy stories and an array of pregnancy myths that you never asked for. You may find some of the stories amusing while others may send you into a state of unnecessary neuroses. While I can’t prevent the pregnancy and birth stories for you, I can debunk many of the popular pregnancy myths (according to pediatricians and pregnancy experts) you’ll be exposed to during your nine months of pregnancy:

Spicy foods trigger pre-term labor—False

If this were true, there would be entire countries where pregnant women would have a hard time finding food. There is no evidence that supports that spiciness speeds along labor (so crank of the cayenne if that’s your thing!).

Pregnant women should eat for two—False

Your baby bump might seem like the perfect ticket to ride the dessert train  (twice, no less), but the sad truth is that being pregnant only requires an extra 300 calories per day. So unless you want your baby to have obesity issues, switch out the gelato for grapes.

Cocoa Butter prevents stretch marks—False

Tempting as it might be to slather your growing belly with a lotion that smells like chocolate, the last thing it does is prevent stretch marks. In fact, it might even make skin more sensitive. Looking for a way to beautify your bump, try a solution with vitamin E, which has been proven to smooth skin, but be aware that nothing prevents stretch marks.

Walking brings on labor—False  

While it’s a healthy way to stay active that’s easy on pregnant joints (and burns off the extra pint of Ben & Jerry’s you scarfed last night), walking hasn’t been proven to bring on labor. Walking will, however, help move along labor that is already in progress.

No sushi while pregnant—False

Except for rolls that contain mackerel, tilefish, shark and swordfish, sushi is really just kind of rice, seaweed and veggies.  You can have other fish (like salmon—which is high in Omega-3 acids and very good for brain development or cooked shrimp), but don’t overdo it on the tuna. Keep it under 12 ounces (about two maki or rolls) per week.

Sleep only on your left side while pregnant—False

Unless there are serious complications, like diabetes, feel free to sleep any way you like. After all, the chances of getting a full night’s sleep once the baby arrives are slim.

Pregnancy heartburn=hairy baby—False

As much as your heartburn might make you envision a velvety-skinned baby with loads of lustrous locks, it’s just not true. Though a study at Johns Hopkins in 2007 seemed to support rather than disprove the old wives’ tale, many women who had heartburn ended up with babies with little to no hair. Listen, your organs are pretty crowded, especially as your baby nears birth, and your reflux is due directly to your stomach having nowhere to expand, forcing acid up the esophagus.

Don’t fly in your first or last trimester—False

If you really hate traveling for business, you might think Junior is doing you a huge favor. But the truth is flying is completely safe in any month of pregnancy. Most airlines hesitate to fly women in advanced stages of pregnancy (think emergency landing liability), and your own healthcare provider might want you to stick around as your due date looms.

Raising your hands above your head is dangerous—False

Mom’s upward salute pose will definitely not be at fault if your baby emerges with the umbilical cord wrapped around his head. There’s a little prenatal acrobat in there and the length of the cord and his movements—not yours—determines if the cord will be wrapped around the neck.

No coffee while pregnant—False

Luckily for pregnant moms, and everyone around them, it’s perfectly safe to drink one cup a day. But don’t overdo it, more than 200 mg. of caffeine a day might put you at risk for preterm labor or miscarriage.

Your face looks so different, it must be a girl—False

This about tops the list of worst things you say to a pregnant mom. No one wants to be told their face looks “different” (read: fat, blotchy, splotchy), even if it means even if it means your answer to her unsolicited informal survey of what she thinks you’re having.  Your best bet is to smile and buy a gender neutral gift, because your chances of being right are 50/50 anyway.

Don’t go on a really bumpy car ride—False  

It’s a valid concern, especially when commuting (read: bouncing) down the post-winter pothole ridden streets, but a regular car ride isn’t dangerous for a pregnant mom. Your baby has plenty of cushioning between the amniotic fluid and the uterus, so just buckle up and enjoy the ride.

Severe morning sickness definitely means it’s a girl—False

Even among those with the worst morning sickness, the male and female offspring were nearly 50/50 and whether this applies to milder cases is unknown.

While there are definitely things you should avoid during pregnancy, worrying too much will only cause unnecessary stress—most things in moderation are just fine. Focus on a healthy and stress-free pregnancy and ask your doctor any questions you may have. Do not rely on information the person behind you in the check-out lane at Target offers.

Have a happy & healthy pregnancy!

Julie McCaffrey


Parenting expert Julie McCaffrey is a proud mommy to 3 kids and owns BabyNav Baby Planners where she offers personalized consultation to new and expecting parents along with functioning as the Chief Brand Officer at—the high-quality baby store that supplies the facts and advice, along with the right choice, to parents who are completely lost in the whirlwind of baby gear. She loves to help moms and dads navigate everything from baby gear, preparing for multiples, getting back to work and getting the whole family on a routine.

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