Old Wives’ Tales

Now that you’re pregnant, you may receive all sorts of information—whether or not you welcome it. Some may be useful, some may be frightening and some may be laughable. Should you believe everything you hear? Probably not.

Below is a list of old wives’ tales that you can definitely ignore. When you hear one of them, smile and nod. You’ll know the truth and not worry this will happen to you!

• You need calcium if you crave ice cream.

• Cold feet indicate a boy.

• Refusing to eat the heel on a loaf of bread means you’re going to have a girl.

• Dangling a wedding ring over your tummy indicates the sex of your baby.

• Your baby will be born with a hairy birthmark if you see a mouse.

• If you carry out in front, it’s a boy—carrying around your middle means it’s a girl.

• Eating berries causes red splotches on your baby’s skin.

• If you perspire a lot, it’s a girl.

• Taking a bath can hurt, or even drown, a fetus. (But do be careful of soaking for a long time in hot water, like in a spa—that could harm the fetus.)

• It’s a girl if you crave orange juice.

• Stretching your arms over your head can cause the umbilical cord to wrap around baby’s neck.

• If you carry high, it’s a boy—carrying low means it’s a girl.

• Dry hands means you’re going to have a boy.

• Craving greasy foods means your labor will be short.

• Craving spinach signifies you need iron.

• Your baby will be cross-eyed if you wear high heels.

• Your moods during pregnancy affect your baby’s personality.

• Using various techniques or substances will start labor. Do not try to induce labor by walking, exercising, drinking castor oil, going on a bumpy ride (not a good idea during pregnancy anyway) or using laxatives.

There are some old wives’ tales that are true. If you’ve heard that if you suffer from heartburn, baby will have a full head of hair, this is true! Studies show over 80% of women who experienced moderate to severe heartburn during pregnancy had babies with lots of hair! Hormones that cause heartburn also control hair growth. Who knew?

Another tale to believe is that if you have sex during late pregnancy, it may cause labor to start. If you have sex after 36 weeks of pregnancy, you’re more likely to deliver sooner than women who don’t have sex. Semen contains prostaglandin, and when combined with your hormones, it may cause contractions to begin.

Tay-Sachs Disease

Tay-Sachs disease is an inherited disease of the central nervous system. The most common form of the disease affects babies, who appear healthy at birth and seem to develop normally for the first few months of life. Then development slows, and symptoms begin to appear. Unfortunately, there is no treatment and no cure for Tay-Sachs disease at this time, and death usually occurs before age 5.

The disease occurs most frequently in descendants of Ashkenazi Jews from Central and Eastern Europe. About one out of every 30 American Jews carries the Tay-Sachs gene. Some non-Jewish people of French-Canadian ancestry (from the East St. Lawrence River Valley of Quebec) and members of the Cajun population in Louisiana are also at increased risk. These groups have about 100 times the rate of occurrence of other ethnic groups. The juvenile form of Tay-Sachs, however, may not be increased in these groups. See the discussion below.

Babies born with Tay-Sachs disease lack a protein called hexosaminidase A or hex-A. This protein is necessary to break down certain fatty substances in brain and nerve cells. When hex-A isn’t available, substances build up and gradually destroy brain and nerve cells, until the central nervous system stops working.

Tay-Sachs disease can be diagnosed before birth. Amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling (CVS) can diagnose it during a pregnancy. If prenatal testing shows hex-A is present, the baby will not have Tay-Sachs.

The disease is hereditary; a Tay-Sachs carrier has one normal gene for hex-A and one Tay-Sachs gene. A person can be tested to measure the amount of the hex-A enzyme in the blood. Tay-Sachs carriers have about half as much of the enzyme as noncarriers, which is enough for their own needs. A carrier does not have the illness and leads a normal, healthy life.

When two carriers become parents, there is a one-in-four chance that any child they have will inherit a Tay-Sachs gene from each parent and have the disease. There is a two-in-four chance the child will inherit one of each kind of gene and be a carrier like the parents. There is a one-in-four chance the child will inherit the normal gene from each parent and be completely free of the disease. If only one parent is a carrier, none of the children can have the disease, but each child has a 50–50 chance of inheriting the Tay-Sachs gene and being a carrier.

There are various types of Tay-Sachs disease. The classic type, which affects babies, is the most common. Other rare deficiencies of the hex-A enzyme are sometimes included under the umbrella of Tay-Sachs disease. These often are referred to as juvenile, chronic and adult-onset forms of hex-A deficiency.

Affected individuals have low levels of the hex-A enzyme (it is completely missing in the type that babies have). Symptoms begin later in life and are generally milder. Children with juvenile hex-A deficiency develop symptoms between the ages of 2 and 5 similar to those of the classical, infantile form. The course of the disease is slower; however, death usually occurs by age 15.

Were You Hard to Live with
When You Had Morning Sickness?

If you suffered with morning sickness and you’re starting to feel better, you may want to take stock of your relationship with your partner. Were you hard to get along with when you weren’t feeling good? Your partner needs your support as pregnancy progresses, just as you need his support. You may need to make an effort to work very hard at treating each other well—you’re both in this together!

Symptoms of chronic hex-A deficiency may also begin by age 5, but they are more often milder than those with infantile and juvenile forms. Vision and hearing remain intact, but slurred speech, muscle weakness, muscle cramps, tremors, unsteady gait and, sometimes, mental illness may appear. Individuals with adult-onset hex-A deficiency experience many of the same symptoms as individuals with the chronic form, but symptoms begin later in life.

9. Exercise for Week 15


Place a chair in the corner so it won’t slide when you push against it. Place your right foot on the chair seat; support yourself against the wall with your hand, if necessary. Stretch your left leg behind you, lift your chest and arch your back. Turn your shoulders and lean your torso to the right. Hold 25 to 30 seconds. Do 3 stretches for each side. Do this stretch before beginning tummy exercises. Tones back muscles.


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