Did you just find out you are pregnant? While you experience the wild ride of hormonal surges, food cravings and physical changes, the well wishers around you will be full of advice in terms of your do’s and don’ts during pregnancy. Nutrition is an important part of this advice and a lot of them will be around what to eat and what not to eat. While some of these advises help, others are just myths.
Let us look at Top 9 Myths of Nutrition during Pregnancy that must be debunked.
Myth #1: Pregnant mothers shouldn't consume fish and fish oil.
Fact: This is not true. Fish and shellfish are an important part of a healthy diet. Fish and shellfish contain high-quality protein and other essential nutrients like DHA, are low in saturated fat, and contain omega-3 fatty acids. However, some fish and shellfish contain higher levels of mercury that may harm an unborn baby’s developing nervous system. It is recommended to get the positive health benefits from eating fish and shellfish lower in mercury (for example, shrimp, canned light tuna and salmon) while minimizing mercury exposure by avoiding the types of fish that are higher in mercury like king mackerel.
Myth #2: You have to eat meat to have a healthy pregnancy
Fact: There are many vegetarian options that can suffice the need of required nutrition during pregnancy for a healthy baby. Vegetarians can meet their protein, vitamin and mineral needs from a variety of sources during pregnancy like dairy products, fortified cereals and supplements like Mother’s Horlicks and Prenatal Vitamins.
Myth #3: Eating papaya causes abortion.
Fact: The truth is that raw papaya is suspected to contain chymopapain(an enzyme derived from the tropical papaya fruit) which is supposed to induce abortion or early labour. But ripe papaya is considered to be safe. Moreover ripe papaya is a good source of vitamin A. Hence if consumed in moderate quantities is beneficial to both mom and baby.
Myth #4: Morning sickness means my baby is probably not getting enough nutrition.
Fact: Truth is that morning sickness is just one of the most common symptoms of pregnancy which arises due to hormonal changes in your body. It's a condition where even the sight, smell, or thought of food might make you uneasy. Unless you notice warning signs like dehydration, severe weight loss or severe morning sickness, there is no need to panic. Stick to the advice of your doctor and take supplements as advised.
Myth #5: Drinking coffee adversely affects pregnancy.
Fact: Coffee in small amounts does not affect the baby, but avoid drinking more than three cups a day. Very large amount of caffeine may result in a baby with a low birth-weight.
Myth #6: Prenatal vitamins are only for women who are deficient in vitamins or minerals
Fact: This is not true. However prepared your body is for pregnancy, the nutritional demand throughout pregnancy keeps increasing. Even if you eat a super healthy diet, you still need prenatal vitamins. It takes a lot of vitamins and minerals to grow a baby and Prenatal vitamins give you extra amounts of three key nutrients for pregnant women i.e Folic acid, Calcium and Iron.
Myth #7. Eating hot and spicy foods can cause abortion.
Fact: If eaten in moderation, it causes no harm to the baby. However, one should avoid very spicy food during pregnancy to avoid excessive heartburn.
Myth #8: Pregnant mothers crave for pickles and ice cream.
Fact: Particular food cravings like these may occur, but this is not universal. The thing is that mothers who crave for pickles are actually craving for salt. Additional minerals are particularly important in pregnancy. Similarly, pregnant mothers who crave for junk foods such as ice cream do so because junk food is associated with comfort. Sugar found in sweet foods cause the body to produce serotonin, which makes the mother feel good.
Myth #9: Eat more now. You are eating for two.
Fact: You don’t need extra calories to feed a growing baby until later on in pregnancy. For the first trimester, you don’t need any extra calories. Calorie needs increase in the second trimester and third trimester. About 340 calories per day in the second trimester and about 500 extra calories per day in the third trimester is sufficient for a healthy baby and mom-to-be. However, you don’t should not over eat or eat unhealthy since this may result in an overweight baby.
For most women, pregnancy is a nutrition wake up call. People around you will bombard you with many such tips and advice on your nutrition regime. However, the best practise is to follow your Doctor’s advice and your health instincts to have a healthy and happy pregnancy.
Disclaimer: It is important to consult with your Doctor before deciding the dose and content of nutrition before consumption.
The views, opinions and recommendations expressed in this article are solely those of the author and intended as an educational aid