Getting pregnant is a unique experience shared only by women. I bet men are a bit envious about this. Unlike men, women are meticulously selected to carry on this special task of procreation. Many women feel it is a blessed opportunity, while others have mixed emotions – happy for the coming of the baby and at the same time apprehensive about the outcome of the pregnancy. In my medical practice, I noticed that maternal apprehensions kick in not because of an existing medical condition of either the mother or the baby, but rather due to myths and cultural beliefs, which after all do not make sense.

Let us explore some of these myths regarding pregnancy and somehow try to understand why it is not worth the worry.

1) You can determine the baby’s gender by the way you look.
– It is believed that if you are more feminine in ways and groom yourself most of the time (e.g. fond of applying facial make-up) while you are pregnant, you are probably carrying a baby girl. If you look untidy, then your baby is a boy. It  should be understood that the sex determinant factor of the baby is presence of a mullerian inhibiting factor (MIF) in the Y chromosome. All fetuses are normally bound to develop female reproductive structures. But the presence of MIF will inhibit this natural course and cause the formation of male reproductive organs.

2) You can determine your baby’s gender by the position of sexual intercourse.
– If fertilization occurs during sexual intercourse, the XX chromosome of the female sex cell randomly pair with the XY chromosome of the male sex cell, resulting to either an XX combination (female gender) or an XY combination (male gender). Sexual intercourse positioning can not dictate the course of this event.

3) The worse your morning sickness is, the more likely you are carrying a girl.
– Morning sickness is characterized by nausea and vomiting usually in the early part of the day. This symptom is due to high levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone that reaches its peak levels at about 60-70 days, and declines slowly thereafter. Hence, morning sickness is mostly experienced during the first 3 months of pregnancy irregardless of whether your baby is a boy or a girl.

4) If the skin of your tummy feels itchy, it means your baby has lots of hair.
– The itchiness that you feel is due to the stretching of the skin itself as your tummy gets bigger to accommodate the growing baby. Besides, it is impossible to be able to feel the baby’s hair, considering the fetal membranes that surround the baby.

5) If you have frequent heartburns during pregnancy, your baby will have a lot of
hair.
–    The term ‘heartburn’ refers to a left-sided chest pain that is often felt due to a reflux of gastric acid contents from the stomach into the lower esophagus. Factors that contributed to its frequent occurrences in pregnancy are the following: altered position of the stomach as it is pushed up by the enlarging uterus; decreased tone of the lower esophageal sphincter caused by the pregnancy hormone progesterone; and increased pressure inside the stomach. Again, the baby’s hair has nothing to do with this.

The lesson we should learn from myths is not to immediately believe that these are true, just because everybody believes in them.  We must gather as much information as we can, think logically, and consult science before judging their validity.