Common Pregnancy Myths and Misconceptions

by wrylilt

There are many different myths surrounding pregnancy - here are a few truths.

When you are pregnant with your first baby there is a lot to learn. And you'll need to learn something new every few days or weeks as your baby grows in the uterus.
From strange symptoms in the first few weeks to even worse pains and difficulties in the last few months, there are plenty of pieces of information you'll learn while pregnant. However, chances are you will be so overcome with information that you won't know what is actually true and what is actually wrong.
Even a second and subsequent pregnancy can be filled with confusing information - yes you know the basics but every pregnancy and baby is different.
Of course getting the wrong information can be harmful to both you and your unborn baby. The following is a list of the most common pregnancy related myths that you may come across.

Myth: You won't get morning sickness after 12 weeks

Morning sickness is caused by the body's reaction to a chemical called HCG. HCG increases over the first trimester and then slowly decreses by about 12 weeks as the placenta grows into the job of caring for the growing baby. However HCG stays in the system throughout the pregnancy and some women react to it all the way to the end of pregnancy. In rare cases women can still have nausea and vomiting all the way till the end of the pregnancy.

Pregnant Belly
Pregnant Belly

Myth: If your fundal height is measuring 1-2 weeks too small, there is a problem with your baby

Fundal height is a rough estimate of the baby's size, measuring from the top of the uterus to the top of the pubic bone. Doctors have an estimated size by week guide they match the measurement to. Of course every woman is different and it's not unusual for a woman to vary 1-2cm from the average size in some cases.
If you are measured as being 1-2 weeks behind in fundal height you should remember the following:

  • Babies come in a huge range of sizes - from 6-12 pounds on average.
  • Baby could be sitting in a different position than normal, making the stomach smaller.

The best way to check that baby is the correct size is either to recheck the fundal height on another day or to do an ultrasound. Don't worry however - remember that each and every baby and pregnancy is different and most babies don't grow at the exact same amount.

Myth: Dilating, Effacement, Losing the plug & Nesting are all signs of labor

Every labor is different - and so are the signs of labor. Chances are that if you lose your plug, dilate, efface, start nesting, have a bloody show, feel cramps or a range of other symptoms, your friends and even your doctor might tell that the baby is only a day or two away.
However don't get too excited just yet. Yes these signs can mean the baby is preparing for birth but in fact some women can experience one or more of these signs as early as 36 weeks and still reach full term before baby decides to arrive. Other women may have absolutely no sign of impending labor up till 40 weeks or later and then go into labor within just hours. So if you do have any of the listed signs, make sure your bags are packed but don't hop in the car just yet!

Myth: Going past 40 weeks means you're overdue

Many women eagerly count the weeks and then the days till their estimated due date (EDD). But remember, just as the name indicates, it is an estimate. In fact a normal full term pregnancy is technically anywhere from 38 weeks up to 42 weeks.
It isn't till 42 weeks that the chances of birth complications and miscarriage become a risk. So if you're trying to decide if you want to go ahead and get induced or not, consider waiting just a bit longer for baby to appear on its own.
Another thing to remember is that your baby's due date is based on your menstrual cycle. Each woman has a different cycle meaning that the EDD can be anywhere from 5-10 days out.

Myth: Labor with your first baby will be at least 12 hours

This is a common misconception - that labor will go for a long time for the first baby. Just like all other things associated with pregnancy, labor varies widely.
I can honestly say from my own personal experience that first labors don't necessarily have to be long. My first baby was born after just four hours of drug free labor.
However you shouldn't get too excited just yet. Some labors can go up to 24 hours and often go longer when induced medically.

Myth: Caesarians are less painful than a natural birth

This is another common misconception. Many uninformed women rush to book an elective caesarian once they find out they are pregnant but they do not realize that this can end up leaving them in more pain than a natural birth.
The important thing to realize is that a caesarian is a major abdominal surgery. The female body is designed to recover reasonably fast from a natural birth but a caesarian can take weeks to heal. 

  • Natural birth - takes a few hours to a few days to recover from (if stitches are needed these usually heal within 2 weeks)
  • Caesarian birth - can take 6-8 weeks to heal and means you won't be able to lift most objects (and in some cases the baby) on your own. The scar also needs to be cared for and can cause pain for at least 4 weeks following the surgery.

Myth: You can't have a natural birth after a caesarian

Another common misconception is that if you want a vaginal birth after a caesarian (VBAC), it won't work. It is possible to have one, just remember that you need to discuss this with your doctor or midwife since some prefer not to do a natural delivery.
There is a tiny chance of tearing the the uterus from the area cut during the caesarian but in a normal, uncomplicated pregnancy many women can still have a natural birth after a caesarian.

Myth: You can't get through labor without an epidural

Many women are very scared of the pain they'll experience during labor. They ask for every possible drug, including an epidural. However it's completely possible to give birth naturally using natural pain relief methods without any drugs - in fact women have been doing it for thousands of years. 
Just remember that if you do opt for an epidural you increase the chance of a caesarian since you may have trouble pushing if you can't feel the labor pains.

Updated: 07/16/2011, wrylilt
 
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kajohu on 07/17/2011

Good information. My daughter-in-law is pregnant with her first child (our first grandchild!), and luckily is finally feeling better after her first trimester. I'll forward this on to her.

TerriRexson on 07/16/2011

Good stuff. Unfortunately I was one of those women who is sick all the way through to the end. Everyone kept telling me it should have stopped at 12 weeks ...

Guest on 07/16/2011

Thanks for this. When my sister was pregnant her in-laws had some crazy customs and old wives tales.

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