Pregnancy myths & old wives tales

Here we look at old wives tales about pregnancy and other common pregnancy myths to reveal which ones are facts and which ones are fiction.

When you are pregnant, you will probably be given some advice that you may or may not believe. Here we reveal which stories are just old wives’ tales in pregnancy, including common pregnancy myths about gender and more.

When you’re pregnant, it’s better to sleep on your left side rather than your right.
True. Sleeping on your side is best while you're pregnant. In particular, sleeping on your left side in later pregnancy may benefit your baby by improving blood flow - and therefore nutrients - to the placenta. It also helps your kidneys efficiently eliminate waste products and fluids from your body.

Dads can show signs of pregnancy
True. It's been known for a dad-to-be to start gaining weight, experience morning sickness and even feel cramps in his stomach. The condition is known as a sympathetic pregnancy or the Couvade Syndrome, which comes from the French word couvee meaning "to hatch".

You shouldn’t get into a Jacuzzi when you’re pregnant.
True. An over-hot bath may increase your body temperature, which could increase risks for your baby. The heat can also lower your blood pressure and affect blood flow to your baby. These risks are greater with a Jacuzzi or hot tub, which are maintained at a constant high temperature (whereas baths cool down).

Eating a curry can bring on labour.
Myth. Many people believe eating a curry will bring on labour, as it can stimulate the bowels which in turn stimulate the uterus. However, like many myths related to being pregnant, there is no scientific evidence to show this.

You should eat for two when you’re pregnant.
Myth. The NHS advises women should follow a healthy diet, making sure to get enough fresh fruit and vegetables and not overindulge in foods that are high in fat and sugar. Two supplements are recommended, folic acid in the first three months and vitamin D throughout. On average, you only need an extra 200 calories each day in the final three months.

Your sense of smell gets stronger when you’re pregnant
True. During pregnancy, your sense of smell increases drastically, as does your sense of taste. This is probably to help pregnant women avoid eating small amounts of toxins that might not be dangerous to an adult but could possibly affect an unborn baby. Smoke, alcohol and coffee are all particularly noticeable to pregnant women.

A smaller baby means an easier birth.
Myth. Births are all different, and the ease of a birth depends on a number of different factors.

If you have bad morning sickness, you’re probably having a girl.
Myth. Morning sickness is thought to be caused by an increase in hormones in the early stages of pregnancy, and not by gender. It affects more than half of pregnant women and the strength, severity and duration of morning sickness varies from woman to woman.

If you have a high bump, you’re probably having a boy.
Myth. The shape of a woman’s bump depends on a variety of factors, including body shape, muscle tone and, of course, the position of your baby.

Frogs can be used to test for pregnancy.
True. The frog test to check whether you were pregnant was used up until the 1950s. A female frog was injected with the urine of the patient. If the frog produced eggs within the next 24 hours, the test was positive. This was called the Bufo test, named after the type of toad originally used for the process.

Page last reviewed: 24 February 2014

Further information

NCT's helpline offers practical and emotional support in all areas of being pregnant, giving birth and early parenthood: 0300 330 0700. We also offer antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about birth, labour and life with a new baby.