What are the main popular beliefs and myths about pregnancy?

By (embryologist), (embryologist), (embryologist) and (embryologist).
Last Update: 04/19/2023

Pregnancy is a process of great physical and emotional change for women. The physical changes are very noticeable, which makes it possible for a pregnant woman to receive endless recommendations from her family, friends and even from people she meets in her daily life who perceive her pregnancy.

However, among all this myriad of advice and predictions about pregnancy, there are many myths. For this reason, we would like to mention some of the most widespread popular beliefs about pregnancy that have been passed down from generation to generation, but which lack scientific basis and are not true.

Predict the sex of the baby

One of the main curiosities during pregnancy, after knowing that everything is going well, is whether the baby will be a boy or a girl. Therefore, there are many myths that try to satisfy this doubt, without having any scientific basis.

Among the most widespread beliefs is the one that says: "if the belly is rounded, it will be a girl, but if it is pointed, it will be a boy". The truth is that the shape of the pregnant belly depends on several factors such as the tone of the uterus and abdominal musculature, whether or not it is the first pregnancy, the woman's body constitution and the position of the baby, but it is not related to the fetal sex.

Other myths involve the type of cravings a woman has: if she has a sweet tooth, she is said to be a girl, and if she has a preference for salty foods, she is said to be a boy. It is even said that if a woman suffers a lot of nausea, it is because she is expecting a girl. These are also myths that are not supported by scientific evidence.

The pregnant woman may receive several predictions about the sex of her baby. However, you should be aware that these are only popular beliefs and that the result should be taken as a game. Confirmation of fetal sex will be provided by ultrasound or genetic testing.

You can read more information about how and when to know the sex of the baby in the following article: When and how can you know for sure if it will be a boy or a girl?

Heartburn during pregnancy and baby's hair

It is quite possible that, when a pregnant woman comments that she suffers from heartburn during pregnancy, a family member or friend will reply: "that's because the baby will have a lot of hair". However, this belief is a myth that lacks scientific evidence.

Digestive discomfort is common during pregnancy due to the hormonal variations inherent to gestation and, in addition, to the increase in size of the uterus. The burning is caused by a reflux of acidic contents from the stomach into the esophagus, caused by these changes.

Sexual intercourse in pregnancy

It is common for many couples to avoid sexual intercourse during pregnancy, for fear that it may affect the baby. However, this is another pregnancy-related myth.

If the pregnancy is proceeding normally and without complications, sexual intercourse can be safely maintained during gestation if the couple feels comfortable and desires it. However, it is important to know that there are some situations in which it would be inadvisable:

Therefore, it is best to consult a specialist, who will be able to give the most appropriate advice on this issue according to the particular situation of the woman or couple.

Eating for two

This is another of the most widespread myths about pregnancy and, therefore, it is very likely that the pregnant woman will hear more than once that she should "eat for two". However, the truth is that it is not necessary to eat twice as much.

In fact, it can be counterproductive, as eating for two can lead to excessive weight gain in pregnancy and the development of gestational diabetes. Therefore, the specialist will check that weight gain is correct during pregnancy.

In addition, eating large amounts can increase the digestive discomfort typical of pregnancy. The ideal is to eat small meals, but frequently, and to follow a healthy, varied and balanced diet that includes all the necessary nutrients for the woman and the baby.

Stains on baby's skin due to cravings

It is very common to hear that, if the pregnant woman does not satisfy the cravings, the baby will present a birthmark on its skin. In addition, there are those who go even further and claim that this stain will represent the unsatisfied craving.

However, the mother should not feel guilty if the baby is born with a possible blemish on its skin, as this is a popular belief without scientific evidence. Birthmarks are not due to a woman's unfulfilled cravings throughout gestation.

Swimming pool and pregnancy

Although the pregnant woman may have heard that she cannot go to the pool during pregnancy, it is a myth. It is possible to go to a pregnant woman's swimming pool, as long as it has good sanitary, hygienic and safety conditions.

However, an additional precaution a pregnant woman should take is to remove her bikini or swimsuit when leaving the pool and put on a dry bikini or underwear. This will prevent the genital area from remaining moist and prevent vaginal infections.

Likewise, it is important not to make sudden movements. Special care should be taken when getting into the water and avoid jumping into the pool and having the water hit the belly. And, of course, be very careful of possible slipping on the wet ground.

Influence of the moon at the time of childbirth

Traditionally, it is said that the lunar phases and especially the full moon influences the triggering of labor and, therefore, there may be more deliveries on and around full moon days.

This is a widespread belief, even among health professionals. However, science has not been able to prove it and it does not seem that any lunar phase favors this event.

FAQs from users

Is it true that I should eat without salt during pregnancy?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

No, this is completely false. Salt provides the body with essential minerals such as chlorine and sodium, although it should be taken in moderation and not in excess.

It is best to use iodised salt, as this will also provide the iodine necessary for pregnancy.

Is it true that I can't get pregnant during my period?

By Marta Barranquero Gómez B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

No. It is a mistake to think that if you have unprotected sex during menstruation, it is impossible to get pregnant. Although this is unlikely to happen, it is absolutely possible.

Most women have normal menstrual cycles, which are 28 to 32 days long. In these cases, pregnancy is rare during the period.

However, some women have short menstrual cycles (less than 25 days) and ovulation and menstruation may coincide. These women can get pregnant by having unprotected sex during the menstrual phase.

Can the shape of the pregnant woman's belly indicate the sex of the baby?

By Sarai Arrones BSc, MSc (embryologist).

It is often said that if the belly is round, it will be a girl and if it is rounder, it will be a boy, but this is just a myth. There is no relationship between the shape of the abdomen and the sex of the fetus.

The appearance will depend on whether the woman is primiparous or multiparous, the constitution of her body, the shape of her uterus and the size of the fetus.

Is it true that the first month is when miscarriage is most likely to occur?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

Yes, miscarriages occur more frequently in the first months of gestation. If the embryo is able to evolve in the first months, it can usually continue to develop. However, there can also be a gestational loss in advanced stages.

Suggested for you

If you are pregnant, we recommend you to read this month-by-month pregnancy follow-up with the main changes that occur in the woman and the baby: Pregnancy month by month: fetal development and changes in the mother.

On the other hand, if you are concerned about the main pregnancy complications that may arise, you can visit the following article: What are the most common pregnancy complications?

We make a great effort to provide you with the highest quality information.

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FAQs from users: 'Is it true that I should eat without salt during pregnancy?', 'Is it true that I can't get pregnant during my period?', 'Can the shape of the pregnant woman's belly indicate the sex of the baby?' and 'Is it true that the first month is when miscarriage is most likely to occur?'.

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Authors and contributors

 Marta Barranquero Gómez
Marta Barranquero Gómez
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Graduated in Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences by the University of Valencia (UV) and specialized in Assisted Reproduction by the University of Alcalá de Henares (UAH) in collaboration with Ginefiv and in Clinical Genetics by the University of Alcalá de Henares (UAH). More information about Marta Barranquero Gómez
License: 3316-CV
 Sarai Arrones
Sarai Arrones
BSc, MSc
Bachelor's Degree in Biomedicine and Biomedical Sciences from the University of Valencia (UV). Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the UV and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI). Specialist Training Course of gamete, embryo, and animal tissue cryopreservation. Embryologist specializing in the field of Assisted Procreation. More information about Sarai Arrones
 Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Graduate in Health Biology from the University of Alcalá and specialized in Clinical Genetics from the same university. Master in Assisted Reproduction by the University of Valencia in collaboration with IVI clinics. More information about Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
License: 3435-CV
 Zaira Salvador
Zaira Salvador
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology from the Technical University of Valencia (UPV). Biotechnology Degree from the National University of Ireland en Galway (NUIG) and embryologist specializing in Assisted Reproduction, with a Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV) and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI) More information about Zaira Salvador
License: 3185-CV

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