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Pregnancy myth: Horror movies and pregnancy don’t go together

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: Pregnant women should not watch horror movies

In Chinese superstition, it’s believed that if you look at pictures of cute babies, you’ll have a cute child. So it’s not surprising that you’re warned to stay away from watching horror films or looking at scary or gory images. Not only are you what you eat; you’re also apparently what you look at!

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The dire warnings delivered along with this myth about horror movies and pregnancy range from miscarriage, stillbirth and bad luck to the possibility of having a baby being born disfigured or with defects.

Where it comes from

It doesn’t take much analysis to see where this myth about horror movies and pregnancy comes from. Superstition abounds around pregnancy because there was so little we knew about it back then. That’s why there are so many pregnancy taboos about what or what not to do.

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The warnings about horror movies and pregnancy may come from the idea of avoiding shocks or trauma when pregnant. Obviously, pregnancy is a time when hormones could make you particularly sensitive to emotions and changes in mood, so perhaps your body could react more intensely to shock or fear, which is not good if you have a more sensitive system. If you normally dislike horror films, you might find yourself feeling more affected by one than usual, and that is a good reason to avoid scary images.

Should I follow this myth?

However, what if you’re a big fan of spooks and chills in your movies? Well, if you love your horror films, there’s no reason to hold back. Horror movies and pregnancy have no links to speak of really, other than the effects of shock. Viewing scary images is not going to change the way your baby looks, since that has to do with your genetics more than anything else. They don’t cause birth defects either, which tend to be linked to genetics and environmental exposure.

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As a pregnant mum-to-be, you should do what gives you pleasure. And if that’s watching the newest horror flick, you should go right ahead!

That said, there is something to note about watching movies at the cinema in general when you’re pregnant. After about 24 weeks, your baby is able to hear sounds outside the womb quite well. He or she may respond to loud noises in the cinema by kicking more actively than usual. As horror movies are usually loud, with a lot of screaming and sharp ambient sounds, you may not feel so comfortable with the baby wriggling about.

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