Here are a few of the myths about pregnancy that I’ve heard in the last few days as we’ve been creating a curriculum for new pregnancy workshops:
- Women shouldn’t squat because it will make them go into early labor. (Combined with the prevalence of squat toilets, women are supposed to…?)
- Women shouldn’t eat too much during pregnancy because a big baby will make for a harder labor. Obviously this one is especially dangerous. Showering at night and sleeping during the day can also lead to big babies, and should be avoided.
- If you drink lots of coconut milk and cow’s milk, your baby will be WHITE and BEAUTIFUL! This effect can also be achieved by keeping the lights on.
- Mothers shouldn’t watch TV for three months after giving birth because it will ruin the baby’s eyes.
- Women shouldn’t eat porridge during pregnancy because it will make the fluid around the baby during birth too sticky.
Lest you think only Cambodians have funny myths about pregnancy, let’s remember a few of our own from the US:
- If a woman’s stomach grows out in front of her, and not to the sides, she’s having a girl.
- If she glows, it’s a girl. If not, it’s a boy.
- Morning sickness is a sick that the baby is healthy. Nope, it’s just the mother’s reactions to so many new hormones.
- Sleeping on your back cuts off blood flow to the baby. Actually, this is only a concern during labor, but not during pregnancy.
- Women should not drink during pregnancy because they could cause their child to have fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). But a very small group of women is actually at risk for fetal harm by drinking during pregnancy and only 5% of alcoholic women who drink during pregnancy have children who are later diagnosed with FAS. FAS is not just linked to alcohol consumption but is “highly correlated with smoking, poverty, malnutrition, high parity [i.e., having lots of children], and advanced maternal age.”