Could all that you know about pregnancy be wrong? Here is the truth behind 10 commonly misunderstood myths about pregnancy. Find out from expert gynaecologist Dr Gayathri Kamath.
By Monali Bordoloi
Are you pregnant? Then you must be weighed down with all the unsolicited advice, lists of dos and don’ts and random info dished out to you by well-meaning folks and, of course, Google. We get it, you must be confused about what to believe and follow. But when it comes to myths about pregnancy and old wives’ tales, know this, scientific research has challenged some of the conventional wisdom passed down over the ages.
So, to help you out, ParentCircle reached out to Dr Gayathri Kamath, Consultant, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Fortis Hospital, Bangalore. Read on for some great inputs from her on the common myths surrounding pregnancy. Let’s get our facts straight!
Myth 1: You should eat for two
Fact: One of the most common myths with regards to pregnancy is that you must eat for two people. Well, you don’t have to eat for two when you are pregnant. Instead, you may up your daily calorie intake by 300 to 350 calories by eating something healthy every day. Follow a well-balanced and nutritious diet.
Myth 2: You should not eat seafood
Fact: If you love seafood, you don’t have to stop eating it just because you are pregnant. Instead, just limit your quantity of seafood intake. Anything in moderation is alright. Generally, pregnant women are asked to avoid seafood, as lobsters and prawns are high in protein and some women may develop an allergic reaction to it. And treating allergies during pregnancy could be a tricky situation. Also, the mercury levels in some seafood are high. Since digestion is sluggish in the first three months of pregnancy (first trimester), it is better to have seafood in moderation.
Myth 3: You should not eat papaya
Fact: Raw papaya contains an enzyme called papain, which is associated with miscarriages. There is no strong correlation, so, it is better to avoid the raw papaya in the first and third trimester of pregnancy. However, the ripe papaya fruit comes rich with nutrients, which could be included in your regular diet. So, if you really like papaya, having a slice of the nutritious fruit will not do any harm to you and your yet-to-be-born baby.
Myth 4: You should drink saffron milk to have a fair baby
Fact: There is no connection between saffron-infused milk and the complexion of your baby. There is no scientific evidence to prove that too. The genetic makeup of the parents and the presence of a pigmentation named melanin, determine the complexion of your baby.
Myth 5: You tend to be forgetful
Fact: This is not true. In fact, pregnancy could be one of the most productive phases of your life. But if you are sleep-deprived, feeling nauseous or throwing up too much, it may make you dull and sluggish. You can be assured that there is no relation between pregnancy and forgetfulness.
In fact, in an article titled 'Cognition in pregnancy and motherhood: Prospective cohort study' published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, author Helen Christensen, a researcher at the Australian National University in Canberra, says that pregnant women, when focused on a task, do not have 'cognitive deficits,' and perform as well as their non-pregnant contemporaries.
Myth 6: You should not dye your hair or use make-up
Fact: You are free to put on your make-up. However, be a little careful about dyeing your hair as most hair dyes available in the market contain ammonia which may seep into your skin. As it is difficult to find ammonia-free hair-dyes, it is better to avoid dyes. Or else, make sure not to keep it on for too long. Natural hair dyes like henna powder and tea or coffee decoctions are reasonably safe, as there is no evidence of harm as of now.
Myth 7: You should not drink coffee or tea
Fact: Tea and coffee contain caffeine, which is better to be avoided during pregnancy. However, if you are habituated to drinking it and feel the urge to consume it, just restrict your intake to one cup a day.
Myth 8: You should not drink or smoke
Fact: Ideally, alcohol and tobacco should be avoided during pregnancy. Tobacco is linked to stillbirth and low birth weight. However, there is no harm in having a small drink to celebrate occasionally.
In fact, a research paper in 2013, published in 'BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology,' the academic journal of Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (RCOG) says light drinking in pregnancy is not linked to developmental problems in childhood. Dr Patrick O’Brien, RCOG spokesperson says, “The RCOG advises that if a woman falls pregnant, the safest option is to abstain from alcohol. However, if she would like to have a drink the current guidelines suggest that one or two units, not more than once or twice a week, is acceptable after 12 weeks of pregnancy." So, all said and done, it is best to refrain from drinking.
Myth 9: Gender of the baby can be predicted
Fact: It is one of the oldest myths still doing the rounds, that the shape of the mommy’s tummy can determine the gender. This is untrue as there is no relation between the shape of the mother’s abdomen and the baby’s gender. Similarly, there is no way a mother’s heart rate is linked to the child’s gender. Gender of the baby can be determined only at the time of delivery.
Myth 10: Eating spicy food will harm the baby
Fact: Pregnant women should abstain from spicy food — not that it harms the baby — but because it may cause acidity and heartburn to the mother making her uncomfortable. Also, since pregnant women take iron and calcium supplements, they are prone to acidity, and spicy food could further aggravate that. Most types of masala too come with extra salt, which isn’t good for expecting mothers. However, spicy food per se does not harm the baby. You can have moderate amounts of spice in your food if you are used to having it. Also, ensure you drink lots of water so that you are not dehydrated during pregnancy.
Well, that was insightful, wasn’t it? Pregnancy is a wonderful phase. It is very important to keep your spirits up during this time. And, the best way to go about it is to read about these myths and what you should follow and shouldn’t, from credible sources. You may also discuss with your doctor if you have any doubts on these. Have a safe and happy pregnancy!
About the expert:
Dr Gayathri Kamath is Consultant, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Fortis Hospital, Bangalore
About the author:
Written by Monali Bordoloi on 21 February 2019.
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