All kinds of tall tales surround pregnancy, and it can be difficult to know what is true and what is a myth. After all, it seems odd that a person’s tan could play a role in their pregnancy, but there is a bit of truth to the statement.
Despite how unusual they sound, several physical traits and factors can affect a person’s pregnancy.
A common belief is that the taller someone is, the longer their pregnancy lasts. While it may seem like an old folktale, there is some truth to the idea that a person’s height can affect their pregnancy duration.
Studies on women of northern European descent revealed that taller women had longer pregnancies and larger babies. Experts are not sure why this is the case, but it could be due to different metabolic rates or taller people having larger uteruses.
Maternal height does not just increase pregnancy duration. The same study also revealed that shorter women tended to have shorter pregnancy durations.
In fact, the shorter someone was, the higher the chance that they would give birth prematurely. Researchers hope that by uncovering what causes this, they can limit the number of preterm births and save lives.
One of the most influential physical factors in a person’s pregnancy is their weight. Obesity, in particular, can increase the chance of developing diabetes while pregnant. It can also cause a fetus to grow larger than average, making the birthing process difficult.
Some research indicates that larger adults tend to have more sleeping problems while pregnant and a higher risk for sleep apnea.
Just as being heavier affects pregnancy, so does being underweight. Most notably, low body weight has direct links to preterm births.
Even if the baby is not premature, being underweight during pregnancy may increase the need for cesarean delivery. Experts recommend that underweight adults gain two to five pounds while attempting to become pregnant and about the same amount during the first trimester.
While most people are at least somewhat aware of the risks of being pregnant as an older adult, the health risks of young pregnancies are less widely known.
Pregnant teens are far more likely to have issues like high blood pressure and anemia, which increase the risk of premature birth. Young adults are also more likely to experience problems like poor cervix dilation and seizures.
After about 35, age has a dramatic effect on pregnancy, especially for first-time pregnancies. While most older adults have healthy babies, the evidence does show that they are more vulnerable to certain issues.
Ectopic pregnancies and loss of pregnancy are more likely, as are delivery complications. As a person ages, their need for a cesarean delivery also increases.
Pregnancy places a lot of stress on many different muscle groups while also actively changing the muscles themselves. Because of this, living an active lifestyle before pregnancy has several notable benefits.
Common issues like backaches, pelvic pain, bloating, swelling, and constipation can be less frequent and severe. Some evidence also points to strong core muscles lowering the need for cesarean deliveries and shortening labor times.
Many health experts consider dental health to be one of the largest indicators of the health of a fetus and the potential outcome of pregnancy. This stems from the fact that pregnant people are more prone to gum disease and cavities.
Around 60% to 75% of pregnant women have gingivitis. People who already have great dental hygiene are less likely to have severe pregnancy-related oral health issues. Additionally, poor dental hygiene has links to preterm birth and low birth weight.
While race and ethnicity do not typically affect pregnancies beyond the potential for certain genetic factors, there is a social factor to consider that can play a role. Recent research from the CDC has confirmed that Black, Asian-American, and Native women are much more likely to have pregnancy-related issues in the United States.
Experts note that this is likely due to poor access to quality care, delayed diagnoses, and a general lack of knowledge among healthcare providers and patients.
Though it might seem like a stretch, being tan could point towards a healthier pregnancy —if the tan is natural. A growing body of evidence suggests that many adverse pregnancy outcomes are the result of low vitamin D levels. This includes common problems like low birth weights and gestational diabetes.
Since the sun is a key source of vitamin D, tan skin is one of the few visual indicators of a person with a healthy level of the nutrient. Experts recommend vitamin D tests for all pregnant individuals and supplementation for those who need it.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.