February 5, 2017 - 7:37pm
Pregnancy is one of the most important events in a woman's life. It is also the time when she gets all the extra care and attention from her near and dear ones. There are a lot of dos and don'ts imposed on her by well-wishers during this time. While some have scientific basis, some are mere myths. So it is always better to follow the doctors advice at each step of the pregnancy to have a healthy baby. There are a lot of myths concerning pregnancy prevalent in every country, most of which pass on from generation to generation unless someone busts them.
Lets look at some of the most common myths related to pregnancy:
- Eat for two - A woman with a normal pre-pregnancy weight needs about 300 extra calories per day to promote her baby's growth, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). A woman of normal weight should gain 11 to 15 kg during pregnancy and less if she's overweight. If a woman gains too much then there is a higher risk of a cesarean section or a difficult vaginal birth. The aim should be to eat a well-balanced diet to ensure health of both mother and fetus. Care should be taken to avert nutrient deficiencies common during pregnancy and supplements should be taken as per doctor’s advice.
- Eating papaya leads to miscarriage - Papaya is believed to cause abortion and this belief is so deep-rooted in the Indian culture that even the well-informed tend to keep away from it. In reality, it is only the unripe/semi-ripe green papaya that contains high concentrations of latex which mimics the action of labor-inducing hormones like oxytocin and prostaglandins. But as the papaya ripens the latex content decreases and it becomes safe for consumption. So a pregnant mother can very well include ripe papaya in her diet, without causing any harm to the fetus. Papaya controls and prevents constipation and heartburn. It also relieves bloating and gastric disorders, which are common during pregnancy.
- Saffron makes the baby fair-skinned - The skin color of the baby is purely determined by genes and nothing else. It is a tradition in India to gift pregnant mothers with small boxes of saffron. Milk flavored with a pinch of the powder or few of its strands are given to pregnant mothers, in the hope that it would make the baby light-skinned. But there is no truth in this whatsoever.
- Consumption of ghee eases delivery and quickens healing of uterus - Ghee neither eases delivery nor helps in swift healing of uterus. Ghee is saturated fat and its consumption in excess will only lead to undesirable body weight and subsequently other related ailments. Many people believe that ghee lubricates the vagina thus aiding in a smooth delivery. There is little or no concrete evidence to back either of these beliefs. Although it has many good properties, ghee is high in unsaturated fat and should be consumed moderately else it will accelerate weight gain which could make the delivery difficult.
- No activity during an eclipse - Pregnant women are told not to indulge in any activity during an eclipse else the baby will be born with a deformity. An eclipse is a natural phenomenon. It will definitely not cause any defects or deformities in the baby. This does not mean you look at one with the naked eye. General precautions need to be taken by everyone, not just by pregnant women.
- Stay away from Caffeine - Pregnant women are often warned to give up caffeine because it might cause miscarriage, preterm birth or low birth weight. But the case against caffeine isn't strong. So you can still enjoy a mug of coffee every now and then but make sure that you don't have more than 200mg of caffeine in a day. That's two mugs of instant coffee or one mug of brewed coffee. If you regularly have more than 200mg of caffeine a day while you're pregnant, you'll have a higher risk of miscarriage or having a baby with a low birth weight. This 200mg limit includes all sources of caffeine like tea, cola, energy drinks and chocolate.
- No sex please - You can have sex during pregnancy. Sex doesn't physically hurt the baby, who is fully protected by the amniotic sac and strong uterine muscles. A thick mucus plug also seals the cervix. An orgasm cannot cause a miscarriage especially if you have a normal, low-risk pregnancy. Contractions from orgasm are completely different from the type that's associated with labor. Your doctor can sometimes advise against intercourse if there's any threat of miscarriage or preterm labor or if there's unexplained vaginal bleeding during pregnancy. What you do need to watch out for are sexually transmitted infections. If you get herpes, genital warts, chlamydia, or HIV, the disease could be transmitted to the baby too.
- Don't sleep on your back - Pregnant women should never sleep on their back during pregnancy or always sleep on their left. The belief is that sleeping on the back will cuts the oxygen supply to the fetus. For normal, healthy with an uncomplicated pregnancy, the best position for sleeping is the one that’s the most comfortable. Lying on the left side is helpful in certain cases such as prolonged labor, high blood pressure, improper functioning of kidneys, problem with fetal development because during the later stages of pregnancy, the uterus and baby grow large enough to press on the large vein, the inferior vena cava, reducing blood flow from the lower body back to the heart.
- Exercising will harm my baby - This isn't true as exercising not only has a positive impact on the mother but the baby too. You can safely start an exercise program during pregnancy after consulting the doctor under trained professionals. Being fit increases your stamina and prepares you for the process of childbirth. Brisk walk, swimming, breathing exercises, and yoga and meditation are recommended as they are great relaxants.
- Do not fly during pregnancy - Generally, air travel before week 36 of pregnancy is considered safe for women who have healthy pregnancies. Your doctor might caution against air travel if you're experiencing any complications that might be worsened by air travel. The duration of the flight also should be considered. Similarly, your doctor might restrict travel after 36 weeks of pregnancy. The best time to fly might be during your second trimester. This is when the risks of common pregnancy emergencies are the lowest.