Old Wives Tales debunked

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Sue Ellen Ross – The Southern Yankee

Recently I have been around a lot of baby talk. Not in the sense of listening to small children, or adults that sound like them. I’m talking about conversations with moms-in-waiting and what they have to look forward to at this special time in their lives.

It seems the perpetuation of ‘Old Wives Tales’ is still alive and well, judging from what I hear and see.

“Did you know that if you gain too much weight, your shoe size will increase PERMANENTLY?” one mother-to-be told me.

“If I don’t eat what I crave, my baby will have a birthmark that looks like it,” said another young woman I met in the grocery store.

I remember being such a naive expectant mom that I got stressed out by listening to all the tales of woe. But wasn’t I supposed to take heed? After all, these were experienced parents dispensing their wisdom.

I never thought to ask them how many people they knew who personally experienced the dire results of all those warnings.

I bet not many.

So, for pregnant women everywhere, here are a few of those Old Wives Tales that are simply not true.

TALE: If you carry the baby high, it’s guaranteed that you will be having a girl.

TRUTH: If a woman is carrying high, this may be her first pregnancy, or her body is in good shape. Stomach muscles have a tendency to be more elastic with each pregnancy, so a belly that’s seen more than one pregnancy may hang a little low.

TALE: You’ll lose a tooth for every baby you have.

TRUTH: Not if you take care of them.

TALE: If you hold your hands over your head, you will strangle the baby with the umbilical cord.

TRUTH: The incidence of the baby’s cord being around the neck is about one-third of all births. It has to do with the twists and turns the baby makes, not your stretching upward.

TALE: Get rid of your cats, they will steal the air from a baby’s mouth.

TRUTH: Although pets should be monitored around children, this tale is a myth. It is anatomically impossible for a cat or other animal to suffocate a baby by sealing the baby’s mouth with its own.

The list goes on.

The moral of the story: Expectant mothers have enough to worry about, other than the opinions of some old wives they never met. In fact, that no one has ever met. If you put their tales into the proper prospective, you may get a laugh or two. That’s about all they are good for.

Now, when I hear someone relate those tales of warning (yes, they continue and some new ones have been added,) I just smile and give young mothers-to-be my own piece of advice:

Tell the messengers of those elusive old wives that you live in the real world, and they should too.