Eating for two, losing a tooth for each baby, not dyeing your hair...there's seemingly an old wives' tale or pregnancy 'myth' for just about every occasion. So what is the truth? (And can you get pregnant standing up?)

First, the fertility fallacies...

You can't get pregnant if you do it standing up

Do we really need to be addressing this? Probably not, but even the most grown up amongst us do sometimes have hormone-induced flappy moments of non-clarity and escalated worry and fear, yes? Those times when irrational thoughts chip away at our rationale, like, for instance, when Aunty Flo's a few days late and that fumble from a few weeks ago is re-running in our heads with mocking regularity. The NHS Choices website (OK, it's aimed at teens, but frankly, sometimes we all need a bit of a talking to) is quick to remind us: 'Pregnancy can happen whatever position you do it in, and wherever you do it'. But we knew that already. Didn't we? Didn't we?



Touching a 'fertility symbol' can help you get pregnant

Hmmm, from sitting on certain 'chairs' at work , to getting jiggy on hillside chalk drawings of well endowed warriors, there's always any number of stories doing the rounds about unexplained or unexpected pregnancies. In fact, just a few weeks ago, women living in close proximity to the Cerne Abbas chalk figure in the Dorset hills were found to be producing the most children in Britain... It is, however, best to look at all the evidence - and sexually active women of child-bearing age usually figure prominently in all the stories. Funny, that.

Eating Certain Foods Will Guarantee a Boy or a Girl

The only thing eating certain foods will guarantee is wind, usually. There's all kinds of clap-trap abounding about how lots of chocolate scoffing will result in a girl baby, or how a diet rich in red meat will produce a boy, but there is little, if any, medical evidence to support it. Obviously if you like choc or red meat, give it a go. You've a 50% chance of getting what you want...


Moving on to the Maternity Myths...

You need to eat for two when you're pregnant

Oh, if only it were true. But sadly it is not. In fact, the public health director for NICE (the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence ) Professor Mike Kelly went on the record just recently to say the only extra nutrition a pregnant woman needs is 'two pieces of toast and a milky drink' in the last trimester of pregnancy. Which is obviously nowhere near as much fun as a tub of Ben & Jerry's and a king-size Mars bar, and totally unfair if you're lactose intolerant. Spoil sport.

You'll lose a tooth for every baby you have

Perhaps the prevalence of toothless hags in medieval England gave this oft touted rumour credence, but whilst the gums do soften in pregnancy, and there is increased risk of dental decay and infection, there's no actual reason why, with good dental hygiene, that you should pop out a tooth with each child. Floss is your friend, sugary snacks and drinks are your foe, and your free dental check ups should be utilised.

It's not safe to dye your hair when you're pregnant

If you dye your hair, the chemicals will transfer to your baby, shriek the scaremongers (usually grey haired and pursed lipped and also bemoaning about how in 'their day' you could leave your baby outside the supermarket in its pram). But it does sound plausible, doesn't it, the hair dye risk? Medics, though, are generally agreed that whilst VERY high doses of the chemicals in hair colourants could cause problems, the levels that are actually in each application are very low. The good old NHS offers further words of wisdom on the subject here. Frankly, there's probably more risk from the style police locking you up for your entire gestation if you're ambling about with a thatch of fishing-wire white locks, or doing a passable impression of a pre-make over Susan Boyle. Get thee to a L'Oreal stockist. Because you're worth it.

How you're 'carrying' is an indicator of the baby's sex

If you're pregnant right now, you have no doubt already had comment on the position of your bump and the likely gender of its occupant. High for a boy, low for a girl - or was it the other way around? Either way, it has no scientific credibility. You'll probably find your bump changes shape and position from day to day, becoming lower as the magic nine month milestone approaches. It's all down to muscle tone, fluid and baby's size and weight, rather than the presence of a willy or frou-frou. Sorry.


Having sex when pregnant can harm the baby

Unless you have been specifically advised not to have sex whilst pregnant, there is no reason at all why you should abstain. There is no danger of 'harming' the baby through gentle love-making, although you may find you need to adapt your position to get comfortable. In fact, it is SO OK, there are even some Government guidelines on it...