Author Corner: Jena Pincott on the Surprising Science of Pregnancy

The latest post in our Author Corner comes from Jena Pincott, author of Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies? The book explores the weird and wonderful science of pregnancy – the why rather than the how-to, and is a fascinating must-read for curious mums- and dads-to-be.

 Her guest blog post tackles 12 old wives’ tales about pregnancy, including morning sickness, baby brain and labour pain. All these and more can be found in her new book Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies? which is available now from Souvenir Press in hardcover, paperback and as an e-book.

 Science vs. Pregnancy Myths

Science tackles 12 old wives’ tales about pregnancy.  Guess which ones endure?

Myth #1: Girls steal their mothers’ beauty:  False. You might even argue that being pregnant with a girl enhances your beauty! Statistically speaking, women carrying girls have more sex during pregnancy than those carrying boys.  Our breasts also grow larger when carrying a girl than a boy.

Myth #2:  You’re eating for two. Not really. You’re actually eating for 1.1.  Even in third trimester, this means eating only, say, three bananas more daily than you would pre-pregnancy.

Myth #3:  You’ll crave dirt and clay.  Possibly true. The scientific explanation: Clay seals the stomach — and, in the past, may have helped to protect mother and foetus from toxins, bacteria, and viruses.

Myth #4: Basketballs are boys, watermelons are girls:  False.  Truth is, your belly can be both a basketball and a watermelon during different phases of the pregnancy.  If you’re pregnant with your first child, you’ll carry higher for longer into the pregnancy because the ligaments holding up the baby are tighter.

Myth #5: Girls make us sicker than boys:  Somewhat true.  A hormone called hCG contributes to pregnancy sickness. Generally speaking, female foetuses put out higher levels of hCG than do male foetuses.

Myth #6: More babies come out on a full moon.  False. The full moon doesn’t trigger labour, according to multiple studies that track births and the lunar calendar. (Note:  Nor are more loony people admitted to psych wards at this time.)

Myth #7:  You can induce your own labour.  Mostly false. In studies, most home-induction remedies such as walking, sex, spicy foods, castor oil haven’t had any significant effect on triggering labour.  BUT there is limited evidence that nipple stimulation (breast pumping) helps the process along if you’re already close to going into labour naturally.

Myth #8: The Chinese birth calendar accurately predicts gender.  False. Multiple studies have shown that when it comes to predicting gender, the Chinese birth calendar is no more accurate than flipping a coin.

Myth #9: Babies look like their fathers.  Not necessarily.  Of course some do, but this doesn’t happen as a rule. The strange thing is that we really think babies often look like their dads— possibly because fathers favour look-alikes. From an evolutionary perspective, this may have reduced the risk of infanticide.

Myth #10: Pregnancy is a turn-off for men. Nope. To the contrary, some studies find that men are generally as attracted or more attracted to their wives during pregnancy than beforehand. While couples may not have sex as often as before (expectant fathers may have a lower sex drive), pregnancy is not the turn-off they fear. From an evolutionary perspective, the pregnant woman benefits from her mate’s support, and sex helps couples bond.

Myth #11:  You’ll forget all about the pain.  Maybe. There’s a 50/50 chance that, five years from now, you’ll think labour pains were less painful than they felt at the time.  Only a small percentage of women look back at their labour pain and remember it as worse than they felt at the time.

Myth #12:  You’ll get pregnesia.  Probably. Many (but not all) studies find that pregnant women experience difficulty storing and retrieving memories. This may be due to hormones or the foetus diverting resources to grow her own brain. While your visual memory is intact (in fact, your ability to recognize and remember faces is better than ever), your ability to remember to do what you  say you’re going to do, or recall a name or street address, may be impaired.   Women carrying girls may be especially afflicted.

chocolate-lovers-jena-pincott

 

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