From the earliest of days to modern times, pregnancy and childbirth have been surrounded by old wives’ tales, myths, and superstition. From crazy cravings, to nesting beliefs, to calendars that determine the gender of your baby, prepare for the waves of advice and information that will come pouring in once you announce you’re expecting!
“As soon as I told people I was pregnant they would get this look on their faces, and I just knew what was coming—everyone had an opinion on the gender of my baby depending on what color clothes I was wearing, how my bump was situated, and what foods I was eating during my pregnancy,” says Marcelle Falconer, mother to Maxine Laura.
One worldwide superstition claims that what a woman eats before conception influences baby’s sex. If you want a girl, have a dairy-rich diet and lots of magnesium-rich foods such as nuts, soy beans, and leafy green vegetables. If you want a boy, eat a high-salt diet with plenty of red meat and drink fizzy beverages.
Leah Elliott, a qualified doula, says she has also heard that women who eat hot peppers during pregnancy “will cause the baby to have a large head of hair.” This ties in with the thinking that if a mother experiences a lot of heartburn, her child will be born with a lot of hair—but then again, the heartburn could have something to do with all those hot peppers!
While no research corroborates these superstitions, a pregnant woman is still the sole source of food for her baby and it’s important she maintain a varied and balanced diet. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, protein, and low-fat dairy will help create a healthy environment for a developing baby.
Do you get the urge for pickles and ice cream during pregnancy? Your unborn child may have unusual taste, according to the notion that a mother craves a particular food because the baby itself wants the food. And, look out if you’re yearning for a strangely shaped snack! Some believe that if the baby doesn’t get the food you crave, it will be born with a birthmark resembling the food it was denied.
While cravings are common during pregnancy, they are partly due to rising hormone levels that affect saliva (which often reflects the chemical content of the blood) and make certain foods taste different from normal. In her book Conception, Pregnancy & Birth, Dr. Miriam Stoppard, MD, says that cravings are also thought to be a response to a deficiency in certain minerals and trace elements in your body.