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5 Times That Science Proves Pregnancy Folklore

Sometimes Old Wives Tales have enough anecdotal evidence to prompt scientists to take a closer look. Here are five instances when those old superstitions have stood the test of scientific process. 

The Heartburn and Hair Connection

It is said that women who experience severe heartburn during pregnancy, give birth to babies with hair. This was true for Mom Kelli Clifford. She experienced severe third trimester heartburn during both of her pregnancies and as you can see from the picture above, her daughter was indeed born with a full head of hair.

Now, science thinks they understand the correlation. According to researchers in the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, it is a shared biologic mechanism involving pregnancy hormones that both relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter and supports fetal hair growth.

Hot Tubs Lower Sperm Count

This may seem like a no-brainer, but its a good reminder. Testicles are positioned on the outside of the body for a biological reason - they prefer things a little cooler. If they get too chilly they can even pull themselves up a little closer to the body for warmth. Applied heat hurts sperm production. Applied heat includes hot tubs, sitting on a heating pad to ease sore muscles and even car seat warmers. I know it's wintertime boys, but turn off the seat warmers in your car.

As reported to, Larry I. Lipshultz, M.D., chief of the division of male reproductive medicine and a professor of urology at Baylor College of Medicine says, “Studies have shown that applied heat really can impair [sperm production],” However Lipshultz also says. “But research looking at the effects of tight underwear and indirect heat has been very iffy.”

Photo Credit: From the movie Hot Tub Time Machine


Eat Bananas to Concieve a Boy

Now, wait just a minute. I know what you’re thinking. Science figured out a long time ago that it is the man who determines the gender of the baby, and not the woman. Yes, that’s true. But, and this is a big but, a hospitable environment is also important and what male sperm deems hospitable is different than female sperm.

According to the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, there is a definite link between energy intake - specifically potassium - and conceiving a boy. The way a woman’s nutrition impacts the sex is not fully understood, but the New York Times reports that many in vitro fertilization studies show that higher levels of glucose encourage the growth of male embryos while the opposite is true for female embryos.  

This new study implies that male embryos are less viable in women who limit their caloric intake, particularly if they tend to skip breakfast. Skipping breakfast is known to lower your glucose levels. So if you’re hoping to conceive a boy, then eat more heartily. For a girl, skip breakfast.

Having a Boy Means a Longer Harder Labor

These days, many of us know long before the onset of labor if we’re having a boy or a girl. But this folklore pre-dates ultrasound technology and labor was a clear - though last minute - predictor of the baby’s gender.

However, we can flip this information around for present day use and say that if you’re having a boy you can anticipate a longer labor.

Logic would point to the fact that baby boys have bigger heads and tend to be bigger overall. But the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin says oddly enough, size was not the primary factor in their results. The detailed data studied was on the deliveries of 4,070 boys and 4,005 girls at the Irish hospital between 1997 and 2000.

Researcher Maeve Eogan said in an interview with the Daily Mail in the UK, 'We still don't know what the answer is. The boys appear to suffer more distress in the womb, which suggests that there is obviously some sort of inherent vulnerability of male infants to the whole process of labor.'

Males are more likely to require labor interventions such as oxytocin injections to strengthen contractions, forceps, and cesarean deliveries. Regardless of the delivery method males are also more likely to need intensive care following birth which is directly linked to their labor experience in the womb.

Dr. Maggie Blott, from King's College Hospital in London says, "It's something of an old wives' tale but it's usually true and now appears to have some foundation.”

Read the full report here:

Gain a Child Lose a Tooth

Between the first trimester nausea and third trimester acid reflux it is easy to imagine why a woman’s teeth would suffer as a result. But, the causes extend beyond that. Pregnancy raises a woman’s risk of gingivitis - swollen bleeding gums. The good news is that the pregnancy induced gingivitis many times goes away when the baby is born. This coupled with the fact that many dentists are leery of treating a pregnant woman increases the likelihood that dental issues will go untreated. However, if you have several children and go untreated, you are at a higher risk for tooth loss.

The study conducted by New York University College of Dentistry as reported to found that “out of the 2,635 women who participated, those with no children had lost one to two teeth, while women with children tended to lose more. Take, for example, women in the 35 to 49 age range: Those with just one child had lost an average of three teeth, while women with two children lost an average of four. This number of teeth increased to five for women with three children, and seven for those with four or more children.”

Full report here:


Bonnie Jean Feldkamp is a writer and mother of two. If you liked this posting please follow her on Twitter @writerbonnie or like her on Facebook at



What a fascinating article. Learned a great deal, thanks! I had two boys and some of this rings true.

Lori Aldape

I had never heard of some of these wives tales but can attest to the heartburn and hair one. I started off with tums and quickly moved to a Maalox mustache from drinking out of the bottle. My daughter had a lot of hair but my two sons were insanely hairy. Great article thanks.

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