7 Old Wives' Tales about Pregnancy

(Adapted from their new book, Expecting 411)

About 6 million US women will get pregnant this year. Women used to get their pregnancy information from other women--the "old wives" of old wives' tales fame. Today, however, the most common source of information for pregnant women is their obstetrician. But 3 out of 4 will also look for health answers online, and that's where the problem starts. According to, the accuracy of pregnancy information on the internet varies widely.

Virtually everything about pregnancy has changed since our mother's time--nutrition and exercise recommendations, pre-term screening tests, and what goes on in the delivery room, for example. What hasn't changed is that old wives' tales still abound!

Here are seven untruths we hear all the time from mothers-to-be:

1. You can tell whether it's a boy or girl by how you are carrying.

False. The way you "carry" (the shape and distribution of your baby bump) is based on a few things, such as the depth of a mom's pelvic cradle or the mom's weight, but it won't predict your baby's gender.

2. Avoiding peanuts during pregnancy will keep my child from developing a food allergy.

False. A recent definitive study in the New England Journal of Medicine put this myth to rest once and for all. It's okay to eat known allergens while you're pregnant.

3. Pregnant women shouldn't fly because of radiation risk.

False. The amount of cosmic radiation is negligible and not a health concern.

4. Fatty acid supplements like DHA increase your risk of bleeding during pregnancy.

False. There is no valid evidence to support this theory. You can take DHA supplements all
the way up to delivery.

5. Women who are flat-chested can't nurse.

False. While there are some women who do not make enough milk to exclusively nurse their babies, it's not because they have small breasts.

6. A miscarriage can be caused by exercise or carrying around a toddler.

False. You can't have a miscarriage from carrying a toddler or any other heavy object. And you can't have a miscarriage from exercising during the first trimester, either. Miscarriages happen commonly and are often due to genetic reasons where the chromosomes are abnormal.

7. Epidurals cause autism. 

False. Neither do cell phones, high fructose corn syrup, or vaccines.

Dr. Michele Hakakha is an award-winning obstetrician/gynecologist practicing in Beverly Hills, CA. Dr. Ari Brown, MD, FAAP, is a pediatrician in Austin, TX, an official spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, and health advisor for WebMD, Parents Magazine, and ABC News. She penned the best-selling Baby 411 and Toddler 411 book series before coauthoring Expecting 411: Clear Answers & Smart Advice for Your Pregnancy (Windsor Peak Press, 2010,

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08 Oct 2017

By r. Michele Hakakha and Dr. Ari Brown