Old Wives’ Tales, how much truth do they hold?

By | October 13, 2020

Old Wives’ Tales are still alive and fully lexicalized, especially among illiterate folks. Still closely followed by a big part of the society as part of our traditions.

These tales were created way long before pen and ink. Nonetheless, a number of these stories have survived through time because they offer comforting advice on experiences that we all share.

Some of these tales are sometimes about common ailments and illnesses and some of them have proven cures and treatments.

Throughout the globe there was no shortage of references to tales and stories that, by the simple fact of being narrated by “elders”, enjoyed prestige and credibility.

Old wives’ tales and pregnancy

Indeed, a great part of these tales are about pregnancy and childbirth, have proven to be false or ineffective in light of medical and technological advances.

According to some old wives’ tales the sex of the fetus can be determined using a ring and a piece of rope.

The tales go as such; hanging a ring on a rope like a pendulum and swinging it on the belly of a pregnant woman. if the ring moves from side to side, the baby will be a girl. On the other hand, if the pendulum moves in a circle, it will be a boy.

Some tales says if the heartbeat rate is below 140 beats per minute (BPM), it’s a boy. Obviously, it is not true. In fact, in general, the heart rate of a baby girl is usually faster than the heart rate of a baby boy, and that too only before labor begins.

Other old wives’ tales are focused on the extra weight of the woman’s belly. If it is in front of the body it indicates that it is a girl. On the other hand, if the weight is concentrated around the thighs and buttocks it indicates that it is a boy.

Obviously, this is just a myth. When a woman has a short torso, her baby will only be able to grow towards the front of her womb.

A woman with a longer torso makes her belly less likely to stick out. A wide belly may only indicate that the baby is on its side.

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Dark nipples signs that it will be a boy

Some old wives’ tale suggest that dark nipples is a sign that it will be a boy.

Once again, it is just a myth as a color change has nothing to do with the sex of the child. Dark nipples are the result of several factor such as an increase in progesterone, a steroid hormone secreted by the placenta and ovaries.

An increase melanocyte-stimulating hormone, which regulate skin pigmentation, also contributes to make that the dark areas of the body stand out in most pregnant women.

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Old wives’ tales about breastfeed while being pregnant

Some tales discourage woman to breastfeed an infant while being pregnant. This is because supposedly the new baby needs all available nutrition.

False. Generally, it fine for a healthy woman to breastfeed while pregnant. In any case, it will cause harm to her, the fetus, or the infant.

At times, a doctor may recommend that a pregnant woman not breastfeed. This is mostly if she is nutritionally deficient, underweight, or at risk for preterm labor.

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Old wives’ tales about stories on caring for babies and toddlers

Some tales encourage women to make their baby wear shoes as earliest as possible.

According to these tales, wearing shoes will help the baby learn to walk earlier.

In this case, the opposite is true. Researchers has shown that keeping a baby barefoot helps to strengthen the muscles in his feet, hence he can learn to walk earlier.

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Old wives’ tales about waiting for an hour after eating before swimming

This tale is false. According to the American Red Cross, a child generally doesn’t need to wait for 60 minutes to get into the water.

However, it is still recommended. This is because it buys time until digestion begins, especially if in the case of high-fat foods.

On the other hand, the Red Cross advises not to chew gum or eat while in the water.  Both can cause drowning.

Old wives’ tales about coffee

Contrary to these tales, coffee does not affect growth. However, it is still advisable not to give a child too much caffeine since it can prevent the absorption of calcium and other nutrients.

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Old wives’ tales about fish and brain

Indeed, this tale is completely True. Fish is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. several researchers have shown that this have several benefits for brain function.

Old wives’ tales about chocolate and acne

It is partially true. According to studies, there are no specific foods responsible for acne. However, some people may find their acne get worse after eating a specific food. Nonetheless, this depends on the person.

Old wives’ tales about spicy foods and ulcers

This is partly true. Through spicy foods cannot cause ulcers, they can aggravate the symptoms in some cases.

As a reminder, an infection due to the presence of bacteria or the abuse of pain-relieving medications such as aspirin or anti-inflammatory drug, are the most common causes of ulcers.

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Other Old wives’ tales that holds no truth

  • Eating carrots improves eyesight.
  • If you go out with wet hair, you will catch a cold.
  • Reading in low light damages your eyesight.
  • Watching too much television is bad for your eyes.
  • Thumb sucking deforms your teeth.
  • Pressing on the knuckles of the fingers causes arthritis.

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