December 21, 2016

Debunking Pregnancy Myths

Some topics inspire more myths than health and wellness. The same do-this, don’t do that advice is repeated often and is just as often incorrect. Here, we clear up a few falsehoods and offer some surprising-but-true facts that you can confidently share.

Myth: Women in their 40s with few periods can’t get pregnant

Can you get pregnant if you’re in your 40s and having fewer periods? Yes, you can. If this is a surprise to you, it’s also a surprise to the many women over 40 who ended up with an unexpected bundle of joy. The fact is, while women in their 40s do have declining fertility and are less likely to conceive than younger women, they still experience their fair share of unplanned pregnancies.

Bottom line: A slowing of periods can signal the beginning of menopause but it’s not until a year after a woman’s last period that medical professionals consider menopause complete. Contraception is still very important if you’re not looking to add to your clan.

Strange-but-true: All women, pregnant or not, should know that endometriosis, the abnormal growth of tissue in the uterus, has been linked to heart disease. The link is stronger for women age 40 or younger. While endometriosis is not preventable, lower your risk: avoid taking in large amounts of caffeine or alcohol, and get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day.

Myth: Heart rates can predict the gender of a baby

“Part of it is just fun – people get excited and they like trying to figure it out,” says Danielle Mann, DO, an OB-GYN on the Baptist Health La Grange medical staff. “Some of it is trying to have a sense of knowledge and control about what’s going on with your body.”

One of the wives’ tales Dr. Mann hears a few times a week is that if the mother suffers from heartburn frequently while pregnant, her baby will have a lot of hair. But it’s simpler than that: Heartburn and pregnancy go hand-in-hand, whether the baby is bald or has a mop of hair.

On a serious note, one myth Dr. Mann tries to dispel is that activity or moderate exercise increases the risk of miscarriage. That’s not true, but many women tend to blame themselves when something goes wrong. (Ask your doctor which types of exercise are OK.)

As to whether it’s OK to lift your arms above your head while pregnant, the answer is yes. The outdated belief was that the umbilical cord would wrap around a baby’s neck if a mother raised her arms. That’s a myth, through and through.

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