In this series, we explore common pregnancy myths, where they come from and whether there’s any truth in them. While we offer the scientific answers to all these myths, we’ll also look them from a cultural perspective and offer practical tips.
Pregnancy myth: Crying will make your baby also cry
Some pregnancy myths urge the mum to look at cute pictures of babies for a cute happy and to think happy thoughts for a happy baby. Similarly, one pregnancy myth suggests pregnant women should avoid crying or they might have a baby that cries all the time.
Is this really true? What if you experience a distressing event during your pregnancy and or suffer from a bout of depression? Are you really hurting your baby?
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Where it comes from
First of all, you should not feel guilty about shedding tears during your pregnancy since nobody wants to feel sad. Emotional mood swings can be caused by hormonal changes during and after pregnancy, so that is not your fault. About 10-13% of all mums-to-be experience bouts of depression during pregnancy, so you are not alone.
Can your emotions affect your baby though? It is unlikely that your baby is able to understand your thoughts and feelings. However, babies are sensitive to their environment. For example, if you’ve ever watched a loud violent movie in a theater, you may feel your baby wriggling and kicking a lot. Similarly, they can have the same reactions to shouting in a confrontation, although they may be responding to the sound rather than to the emotion.
Researchers have also found that babies can recall the voices of their mother and father, as well as the melodies of songs they listened to in the womb. If this is true, they probably can remember the sound of crying as well. However, this does not have a link to whether the baby would cry as well.
Should I follow this myth?
There’s no proven links between stress, sadness and depression and the personality of your child. While babies are certainly born with their own personalities, these seem to be linked to genetics more than what happens in the womb. Generally, babies don’t cry because they are sad, they cry because they have needs or feel uncomfortable. It is only when they are older, they are more sensitive to the moods of the people around them.
That said, you should seek help if you feel unable to function. When you’re depressed, you often don’t get enough exercise, sleep well or eat healthily. These are all things that indirectly influence the healthy development of your baby.
It is important to be emotionally and mentally healthy while you’re pregnant. High stress and depression could prevent you from enjoying your pregnancy and affect your health and the feelings of those around you. This could be why this myth came about, by using the health of the baby to get women to think positively!
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