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Pregnancy fact vs. fiction: Gender prediction, no baths?

Pregnant woman rubbing lotion on her belly - Pregnancy myths debunked
Cocoa butter lotion can help with itchiness, but using it doesn’t guarantee you won’t get stretch marks.

Do you know fact from fiction when it comes to advice and information you hear about pregnancy and childbirth?

Amy Roff, a Marshfield Clinic certified nurse midwife, debunked some common myths she often hears about pregnancy.

Myth: The baby’s heart rate or position of mom’s belly predicts the baby’s gender.

“Normal fetal heart rate is 120-160 beats per minute,” Roff said. “A high or low heart rate is not a reliable way of predicting your baby’s gender. A high heart rate could mean the baby is being active, while a lower heart rate could mean the baby is resting.”

Mom’s belly position isn’t an accurate gender predictor, either. Instead, it’s the result of her torso length, pelvis shape and how the baby is positioned.

Myth: Heartburn during pregnancy means the baby will have a full head of hair.

Hormone changes during pregnancy slow digestion and stimulate gastric acid production, often causing heartburn.

Myth: Cocoa butter lotion prevents stretch marks.

Moisturizing and drinking water is good for your skin’s elasticity and may prevent itchiness as your skin tightens and stretches. Stretch marks may be less pronounced, but there’s no guaranteed way to avoid them.

Myth: Pregnant women shouldn’t take baths.

This is true with one big correction – pregnant women shouldn’t take baths in water hotter than 102 degrees F or use hot tubs.

“Sitting in hot baths or hot tubs can potentially raise your baby’s body temperature and heart rate to unsafe levels,” Roff said.

Myth: Morning sickness only happens in the morning and ends after the first trimester.

Nausea in pregnancy can happen any time of day. It often subsides after 12-16 weeks.

However, a small percentage of women experience nausea throughout pregnancy. Frequent vomiting can lead to dehydration and malnutrition. Ask your provider about medications that can help relieve nausea.

Myth: Spicy foods, walking around the block or sex will jumpstart labor.

Many factors, including hormonal changes and the baby’s position, come together to start labor.

There’s no quick fix, but trying these techniques is harmless for most women. After all, physical activity and good nutrition are important, and sex releases hormones that may be helpful in moving labor along if the other factors are in place.

Myth: If you have a C-section, your next delivery must be a C-section.

“This is generally not true for most women,” Roff said. “Vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) is a safe and reasonable option for many women. You should discuss this option with your provider, as there are some cases when a repeat cesarean section is the safer option.”

VBAC carries a small risk of the uterus rupturing, but multiple C-sections have risks as well, she said.

Myth: If you want to deliver with a midwife, you must give birth at home.

Marshfield Clinic certified nurse midwives have been attending hospital births for almost 30 years and have welcomed more than 8,000 babies. They also provide well-woman care.

Learn more about midwifery services at Marshfield Clinic.

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