Old Wives’ Tales, True or False?
There are all kinds of old wives’ tales that get passed down from generation to generation. But as our world becomes more scientific and research-backed, it’s easy to pretend there’s absolutely no validity to them. Of course, some of these old wives’ tales are totally false and simply superstition, but there is also a handful with a surprising amount of truth behind them.
So, here’s a look at some of the most famous old wives’ tales about getting pregnant and raising a family, with a little background that helps either support or debunk them (or, in some rare cases, do both at the same time).
It’s Easier to Conceive If a Man Wears Boxer Shorts Instead of Briefs
Verdict: True (but Not for the Reasons You Think)
This one has less to do with the fashion or look of the guy and more to do with temperature. If you’re a guy who likes to rock his tighty whiteys, there’s nothing about that specifically that will cause physical damage or issues with your sperm. But, testes produce more sperm when they’re lower than the core body temperature. And boxers allow them to hang away from the body and give a bit more breathability, so they can generally stay at a cooler temperature than the rest of the body.
If you’re attempting to conceive, giving yourself the highest and healthiest sperm count possible will help in that attempt. So, boxers may actually be the way to go.
Hot Baths Damage Sperm
Like any behavior, if it’s done in moderation, there’s likely no major issue with it. But — as you just learned — overheated testes can have an adverse effect on sperm count and overall sperm health. That’s true if you spend a lot of time in hot baths, hot tubs or generally overheated environments (like a sauna or steam room).
There are of course some health benefits to weigh, but constantly overheating your testes can actually damage your ability to produce healthy sperm.
Eating Bananas Gets You a Boy
Verdict: Weird, but True
This one seems too bizarre to be true, but there’s oddly some science to back this up. A study showed that consuming more calories when conceiving could lead to a slightly higher chance of having a boy, rather than restricting your calories, which may increase the odds for a girl.
And the higher potassium consumed in bananas could also slightly increase your chances of having a boy. It’s slight, but there’s strangely truth to this tale.
Bathing While Pregnant Can Drown Your Fetus
This one is particularly confusing since the anatomy behind this tale’s logic doesn’t hold true. But if a warm bath sounds like a relaxing way to spend an evening, don’t worry about the baby in your belly. Their lungs are already filled with water as they float happily in an amniotic sack inside the uterus.
So, adding some superficial water to the mix (which won’t go very far into your body because that’s not how baths and female genitalia work) won’t hurt anything. Of course, extremely hot temperatures can increase the risk of injury to the fetus, so keep your baths at body temperature or cooler.
The Swing of Your Wedding Ring Determines Your Baby’s Gender
It’s been said that if you’re curious to find out the gender of your baby (but don’t want to do so with an ultrasound), you can try any number of little harmless tests. One of the most popular is to take your wedding ring (or engagement ring or even a needle will work) and tie it to a string. You then hold that string over your belly — or have a partner do it for you (you’re pregnant after all). If it moves in a circle, you’re carrying a girl. If it moves all about without a circular pattern, you’re carrying a boy.
There’s no scientific proof that the energy in your womb would be able to manipulate matter outside of itself or have the awareness to send some sort of signal through the metal so you can know its gender. So, this is false. But if you’re looking for an excuse to lay back on a couch and have a little fun with this predictor, have at it.
Carrying Low, It’s a Boy – Carrying High, It’s a Girl
Verdict: Not Easy to Prove
It turns out there are a lot of ways people like to attempt to predict the gender of their baby before getting it officially confirmed. One of the most popular is looking at where you’re showing, which seems to not be universal for everyone nor is it a generally accurate predictor.
Another one is whether you have sweet or salty cravings, if your hair is ratty or luxurious, or if your partner gains weight during the pregnancy. There’s even people who mix their pee with Drano to see what color it turns as a possible predictor. (Spoiler alert: It’s just as fickle as the rest of these tests.) Although there are some people who really enjoy (and even swear by these methods), there’s no scientific proof that shows there’s consistent accuracy in them.
Heartburn During Pregnancy Could Mean a Hairy Baby
Verdict: Surprisingly True
If you’re experiencing heartburn symptoms during your pregnancy, you could have a particularly hairy baby growing inside you. Even though these two things seem like they’d be unrelated, studies show that when pregnant women experience moderate signs of heartburn, they had hairy babies 82 percent of the time.
And, on the flip side, women who did not experience heartburn had babies without hair. Even the researchers were surprised by the results, hypothesizing that the hormones that stimulate hair growth could also relax the esophagus so much that it could cause more gastric reflux than a body would typically be used to.
Walking Induces Labor
Pregnancy is a totally personal and intimate experience. So, if you feel like walking may induce labor, there’s certainly validity to that feeling. But, scientifically speaking, there’s no proof to back it up. There are lots of ways that people think they can induce labor, including eating spicy foods, walking (to help gravity speed along the process) or sex.
Research doesn’t support any of those — except possibly sex thanks to the presence of something in sperm, which can possibly help induce labor contractions.
A Longer Labor Could Mean a Baby Boy
If you’ve waited until the last minute to keep the gender of your baby a secret, and that baby is taking its sweet time to arrive into this world, there’s actually a better chance that it could be a boy.
Longer labor could be a sign that the baby is a boy for various reasons, including the fact that its body is often slightly bigger in weight, and it could have a bigger head. The science behind these findings seems somewhat thin, but at least there’s some evidence to back up this tale.
Gain a Child, Lose a Tooth
Verdict: Kind of True
The moment you give birth, you won’t immediately start losing your teeth. But this old wives’ tale may have some validity to it, as there does seem to be some link between women who have given birth and the decline in their overall dental health.
It’s possible that raising children has made their teeth less of a priority. And it’s also possible that their calcium levels, for many reasons including general aging, are declining, which have adverse effects on tooth health. Either way, there’s at least some truth behind this tale.
A Cat Will Steal Your Baby’s Breath
Verdict: False, but Based on Truth
Let’s be clear: Your cat doesn’t have magical powers to steal the life force from a newborn baby. There’s no actual truth behind this tale. But cats do tend to want to instinctually be near newborns.
So, you may find that your cat is by your baby’s side a lot more than it was ever by yours. It’s not, however, trying to suck the life out of it. It’s more likely, your baby is warm and the cat wants to sit next to it. Of course, people worry that the cat will miss its aim and sit on your baby, smothering it. But if you keep your cat away from your kid or monitor their interactions closely, you can actually encourage a bond between some pretty adorable cuddle buddies.
Two Blue-Eyed Parents Can’t Produce a Brown-Eyed Child
This saying may be less of an old wives’ tale and more of a general misunderstanding. But it’s entirely possible for two blue-eyed parents to have brown-eyed (or green-eyed) children. It’s possible thanks to the fact that there are two different genes that can give children blue eyes.
It’s sort of complicated, but basically blue eyes come in two different genes. In rare cases, those genes can have alleles that, when put in the right mix, can override the blue (or even green) eyes and cause a brown eye. In short, it’s rare but possible (and isn’t automatically cause for concern or questioning).
You Can’t Get Pregnant While Nursing
If you’ve just begun nursing your newborn and you’re convinced you can get back to having some intimate time with your partner without the possibility of another baby coming along, perhaps pump the brakes a bit before you rush to the bedroom. It is true that, while you’re breastfeeding, you’re less likely to ovulate or menstruate.
But ovulation can begin again at any time. And everybody is different. So, your odds may be slightly more reduced than normal, but you could still get pregnant and do the whole baby thing all over again (sooner than you thought).
Whiskey on a Baby’s Gums Helps With Teething
Verdict: Very False
It is very dangerous to give a baby any amount of alcohol. Even small doses can be possibly toxic to a young one. For some people, there’s an idea that the alcohol could have a numbing effect on the gums themselves, helping to ease the pain of teething.
But there’s no proof that there’s any benefit, and the overall risks involved in giving your baby alcohol in any form are not worth it.
Step On a Crack, Break Your Mother’s Back
In case you were wondering, there’s absolutely no relation to your general, independent physical actions and your mother’s health. If, by chance, you step on a big crack and hurt your foot, your mother may worry, and her back may eventually be in some pain from overexertion taking care of you, but that’s the only way these two things could possibly be related.
And, let’s be real, it’s a stretch.
The Full Moon Causes Weird Behavior
Verdict: True Enough, Depending on Your Beliefs
If you notice your family or loved ones (or even strangers you have to interact with) acting a little out of the ordinary during certain times of the month, check the lunar cycle. As bizarre as this sounds, there’s anecdotal and even numeric evidence that suggests people act a bit more erratically when there’s a full moon.
Visits to the ER are typically at their highest, strange surgical mistakes are made and some people turn into werewolves — well, emotionally at least. The point is, there are lots of one-off studies that show there could be some strange behaviors that happen during a full moon. But there’s never been a major, comprehensive study or link found between the moon’s cycle and people’s behaviors. Then again, if you believe something to be true, you could make it into a reality.
Happy Wife, Happy Life
Verdict: Very True
There doesn’t need to be a major scientific study to solidify the fact that if you take care of your partner, cultivate a happy relationship and work towards harmony in your marriage, you’ll likely be happier. And happily married people are the happiest people of all.
That’s not saying you have to sacrifice everything to meet every possible one of your partner’s whims, but this old wives’ tale is certainly a helpful reminder that petty stuff isn’t worth arguing over and to be good to those who love you most. So, for all partners of females out there, listen to this old wives’ tale because it’s the truest of them all.