Something about pregnancy and babies seems to invite input from everyone around you, including strangers. Almost every new parent has a story about a random person on the street coming up to them and rubbing their belly, cooing at the baby and, of course, giving advice. Usually that advice is about making sure baby is warm enough, maybe suggestions about sleep, or about what and how your baby eats.
Then there are the pieces of advice that seem so unusual that you have to take a moment to wrap your head around what you were just told.
Much of the time, these awkward pieces of advice are based on old wives tales that have been passed down for generations. Many of them are based on traditions and beliefs that go back hundreds of years. While a lot of them can seem silly to modern parents, they may still be important to your family members, community or culture.
Ranging from predicting baby's sex to what to eat and sleep, these pieces of advice can range from sweet to just plain strange.
1. It's a...
Before ultrasound, the only way to know the sex of the baby was to wait until they were born. But that didn't stop people from guessing! Some of the most common old wives tales are about knowing if you are having a boy or a girl, but many of them are contradictory. Some will tell, you that if you are "carrying high" it's a girl, or low it's a boy. Others will say that baby girls result in more morning sickness (a claim I'm sure many moms-of-boys will dispute!) and cause acne for mom. The truth is that all these predictions are right — about 50 per cent of the time. No matter what Great Aunt Mabel thinks, there is no way to know the sex of the baby based on your body.
2. How much control do you really have?
"Don't lift your arms above your head or the umbilical cord will get wrapped around their neck!" Most assuredly advice from a time when pregnancy and birth were largely unexplained and misunderstood, this particular gem is more likely to elicit a chuckle than anything else. Your movement during pregnancy won't affect the umbilical cord.
3. Cat "magic" and babies don't mix
Another often repeated myth is that cats must be kept away from the baby because the smell of the milk in their mouth will attract the cat and the cat will steal the baby's breath, causing them to suffocate. Based on the historical association of cats and witches, this one is completely false. While it is a good idea to keep fluffy out of the crib for a lot of reasons, breath-stealing is not one of them.
4. Flip-flop baby's sleeping habits
Most babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. Often their best sleep comes during the day and they are more active and alert at night. While this usually resolves itself within a few weeks as the infant's circadian rhythms establish, the jolt into sleep deprivation can lead desperate parents to try nearly anything. Unfortunately, "flipping" baby head over heels to change their sleeping patterns won't reset their internal schedule. But time, frequent feeds during the day, and a quiet, dim atmosphere at night will.
5. The best form of birth control after pregnancy
Possibly one of the most common and enduring myths is that you cannot get pregnant while you are breastfeeding. While there is some truth that lactation amenorrhea method (LAM) can prevent ovulation and menstruation, it is not a reliable form of birth control if you are trying to prevent pregnancy. Furthermore, because of ovulation menstruation, you might become pregnant without ever having a period, which can make dating your pregnancy more difficult. If you don't want baby number two just yet while you are breastfeeding, it's best to use a birth control method other than this old wives tale.
Old wives tales were often formed out of a lack of understanding. With the introduction of modern medicine and a deeper understanding of pregnancy and how your body changes before and after you welcome your little one into the family, there are a lot more options when it comes to information sources. You can still love your Great Aunt Mabel, but you don't have to take all of her advice.
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