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10 Best Pregnancy Old Wives' Tales

Elizabeth Sanfilippo
Sept. 12, 2013

Make predictions about your future children with these superstitions.

We can't possibly plan for everything when it comes to having kids, and that's exactly why we have old wives' tales that have been passed down for generations. They help us face the unknown and feel like we have a tad more control over our lives and that little bundle of joy growing inside of us. Plus, they can be fun ways to predict what gender our child is, as well as what our new baby look like.

While not much is known about the origins of most old wives' tales (they were an oral tradition, so the first tales were never recorded on paper), they're still fun to try! These moms from popular parenting forums weigh in on the zanny things they've been told during pregnancy.

Your Baby's Looks and Health

  1. Girls Steal Your Beauty 
    SamMom912 at CafeMom doesn't believe in old wives' tales, but she has heard, "when you are having a girl she drains all the beauty from the mother and leaves the mother looking ugly during whole pregnancy." This story attempts to explain that darn acne that so many -- but not all -- mothers get during pregnancy.

  2. You Give Your Child a Birthmark With Your Cravings
    "I remember someone telling me I couldn't eat strawberries because the baby would get a big birthmark. Obviously that never turned out to be true," says skelita8105 on momforum.com.

    While there are variations of tale, it's a popular one. Alyssa's Mommy at Baby Gaga recounts her version: "I was telling my mother how I was craving watermelon and I touched my face, and she said, 'No, don't touch your face!' She said when you crave something and you touch a part of your body, your baby will come out with a birthmark that looks like the thing you were craving."

    This one is definitely superstitious, and the way that women for generations have attempted to explain why some children have birthmarks and others don't.

  3. Heartburn for Momma Equals Lots of Hair for Baby 
    As Tzippy19 on momforum.com explains, "I was told that when you have heartburn a lot in your pregnancy, it means the baby will be born with a lot of hair. Well, I had it and 2/3 were born with a nice amount of hair, though it fell out."

    But heartburn is actually a common side effect of pregnancy, usually from changing hormone levels.

  4. Don't Take a Bath
    No matter how much you may want to relax before the baby arrives, some old wives' tales discourage women from taking baths because it's bad for the baby. But have no fear; this yarn is based off of bad -- and old -- information about how the body works. Your the womb keeps the baby insulated and protected.

    "I didn't know anything about bath worries when I was pregnant, so carried on as normal," says Gemma on Circle of Moms. "We don't have a shower, so I'd have been a bit smelly after nine months without. I had hot bubble baths every day. Baby loved it and wriggled a lot." Moms should steer clear of saunas and hot tubs where the heat is relentless and bacteria festers, but a bath at home is a-okay.

Your Baby's Gender

  1. Carry High and You'll Have a Girl
    Old wives' tales about the baby's gender abound, and one of the most popular ones is how mommy carries the baby. If you're carrying high, you'll have a girl; if you're carrying low, your baby will be a boy, according to Fortunebaby.com.

    Other old wives tales claim that if most of your weight gain is up front, expect a boy. If your weight is spread across your middle, it's a girl. But how you carry has just as much to do with your body type as anything else.

  2. Food Cravings Predict Gender
    Not only can your food cravings lead to birth marks, but they're a gender predictor, too! At least according to some popular old wives tales. As SamMom912 succinctly says on CafeMom: "Crave sweets: girl. Crave salts: boy."

    A variation on this tale, according to CoeyG also on CafeMom, is if you crave fruits, the baby will be a girl; vegetables, it will be a boy. But cravings of all kinds are extremely common in expecting mothers; although the complete reason is unknown, doctors think it has to do with hormonal changes or the physical needs of both mommy and the baby, or so ZocDoc explains.

  3. Follow the Ring 
    Put your wedding ring on a string and dangle it above your belly. "If it circles, [it's a] boy," MarShy740 says on CafeMom, and "back and forth [means it's a] girl. If it stops, no babies. Mine went boy, girl, boy, stop. I don't believe it since I have two boys; no girl yet. I do think it is cool, though!"

    While this gender predictor test is one of the most popular--and fun--it's not very accurate as moms across the web have testified to. Think of it like a Ouija board; you see what you want to see, so says ElephantShoes on Ingender.com.

Your Baby's Due Date

  1. Nesting Means Baby Is on the Way 
    As moms, we want to believe our instincts for nesting are because our new little bundle of love is on their way, but that's not always the case! Sometimes, we just have the urge to clean and get ready. For one, Amber Mosher at Baby Gaga started nesting early -- the first week of her second trimester -- while DeanJade&MaksimsMomma nested the entire month before giving birth.

  2. Castor Oil Gets Your Labor Going
    Baby has been growing for 40 weeks, and now it's time for him to be born! There's loads of old wives' tales about what should work to get that labor going, like castor oil (also once considered as the miracle medicine for kids). Other labor inducers, according to mybabysmomma on MomForum.com, include eating pizza, a taking hot bath and having sex.

  3. Prevent Pregnancy Through Breastfeeding
    Baby is here and you're breastfeeding, which means you can't get pregnant yet, right? Wrong! While it works for some couples, it doesn't work for all, even if baby is on a strict diet of mommy's milk. As Judith says on Circle of Moms, "My baby was only 3 1/2 months old and ... I had been told there was no possibility of me falling pregnant whilst solely breast feeding. I now have two teenaged girls at home with an age gap of almost 16 months between them. I would strongly recommend some form of contraception!"

Old wives' tales may be superstitions in some cases, but mommies the world over continue to love using them as fun ways of imagining what their newborn will look and be like!

Elizabeth SanFilippo is a freelance writer in Chicago. Her work can be found here.

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