Pregnancy can be an exciting and scary time as you are flooded with information from books, relatives, friends and even strangers. We separate the facts from fiction with our readers. BY: Gugulethu Mhlungu Pictures: X
We asked obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Palesa Pule to shed some light on common pregnancy myths and advise our readers who have heard them.
“I am told that I shouldn’t do my hair because it will breech the baby. I am now confused, and wear a headwrap every day.”- Khothatso Matjuda
There is no truth to the myth that your hairstyle will affect the baby. What could cause entanglement of the umbilical cord is how active your baby is and how much they play. And even then, not all active babies will have entanglement issues. But about hair, one thing we do caution against is the use of dye during pregnancy because some of them contain heavy metals such as mercury or lead, which can lead to pregnancy losses. This is because these metals find their way into the mother’s and then the baby’s bloodstream. This is especially important in the first two trimesters where organ formation takes place.
“Eating ice will give the baby jaundice.”- Patience Malope
This myth also extends to mothers who eat oranges and carrots, and it’s not true. Jaundice is the discoloration of the skin and sclera (the white part of the eye) which is caused by excess Bilirubin; a yellow substance that is created when red blood cells are broken down. Red blood cells of newborns have a short lifespan and can lead to higher levels of bilirubin which can lead to jaundice. That’s why bilirubin levels are measured at delivery and again two to three days later to make sure that they are not high.
“If you climb a chair while pregnant, your baby will go up instead of down in labour”- Samkelisiwe Nxumalo
Gravity does not allow for the baby to go upwards. What is important for pregnant moms, especially in the third trimester, is that they be aware of their centre of gravity which they can lose and fall. But, there is no threat of the baby breeching from climbing a chair or going hiking. A breeched baby is when any other part other than the head presents itself during labour as a result of abnormalities in the uterus such as the presence of fibroids and where the placenta has implanted. A baby can also breech when it is too big or too small to be born naturally, and if there are multiple pregnancies such as twins or triplets.
“If you eat spicy food and fizzy drinks, your baby will cry non-stop.” – Sophie Kabini
It is not true that spicy food or fizzy drinks will make a baby cry. If your baby cries non-stop, there might be other issues such as colic. But, the mom-to-be’s diet is important because foods high in sugar and/or caffeine can make the baby very active, in the same way that they affect mom’s energy levels. High sugar and caffeinated foods can lead to development issues in the baby, if not managed. I don’t promote alcohol, even in moderation, because the mother’s liver will have to clear it and it could end up with the child because babies get their nutrients from the mother’s body.
“I was told that if I eat eggs, my baby won’t have hair.”- Sibongile Gumede
The opposite is actually true. Eggs are an excellent source of protein which is great and important for your baby’s growth. What is important with eggs and other poultry products is that they have to be thoroughly cooked because they might have the salmonella bacteria if undercooked. Thoroughly cooking all food is important for dealing with the listeria bacteria which can cause issues such as defects or even loss of pregnancy if not treated.
“If you crave sweets then you’re having a girl, and salty food cravings mean you’re having a boy.”- Neo Rams
Nothing but the mother’s XX and the father’s XY chromosomes determine the baby’s sex. So, there is no science to cravings determining sex. With cravings, we do worry when mothers have excessive cravings, such as for things like chalk or soil because it often points to deficiencies in nutrition which we need to address for the baby’s development and a healthy pregnancy.
“I was told sex during pregnancy can affect the baby.”- Linda Lilly
Sex is encouraged all the way up to delivery except in cases where there is a chance or history or of a miscarriage(s) or ruptured membranes, there is a low lying placenta (placenta previa), and a risk of premature labour.
“I was told that the baby should be kept indoors for three months”- Nomsa Nxumalo
This depends on the baby’s immune system. Babies generally have very immature immune systems, which may not be able to deal with various bacteria and germs that they get exposed to. While three months is not a hard and fast rule, it is a great precaution to take to ensure your baby’s immune system is strong and protected from infection.