One of the very pleasant things about pregnancy is the growing adulation and concern of your family and friends for you and your baby. Almost everyone you know would be ready with their versions of what to do and what not to do. However, though many of these might be true, many are just myths. Here is a list of the common myths and the actual realities:
A. Morning sickness means my baby is probably not getting enough nutrition:
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.
B. Slightest of touch over the tummy can harm the baby:
Your baby is well protected in your uterus and is cushioned from minor bumps, stumbles, and falls by the amniotic fluid in which s/he floats. Moreover the abdominal layers protect the baby from any minor accidents. However, if you experience cramps or vaginal bleeding, contact your doctor immediately.
C. Carrying heavy things will induce labour.
This is partly true. Picking up heavy load can aggravate backache and can cause spinal injury. However, if it doesn’t strain you and if you do it in the right way, it is fine to lift some amount of weight. For instance, carrying grocery bags and young kids is perfectly fine if you do it in the right way. You should bend your knees to lift anything and carry it close to your body. Do not bend on your back as this will prevent weight from affecting the back. Also, instead of straining just one side of your body always divide the weight equally between two arms.
D. Exercising will harm my baby.
Any exercise regimen should be started after consulting your doctor under trained professionals. Being fit increases your stamina and prepares you for the strenuous process of childbirth. In fact, women who were not used to doing any exercise are often advised to start doing some during their pregnancy. Brisk walk is the safest, swimming, breathing exercises and yoga and meditation are again recommended as they are great relaxants but should only be practiced after consulting with doctor.
E. Flying is not really safe for pregnant women.
This is part true. It is perfectly safe to fly once in a while if your delivery date is more than six weeks away. Passing through airport security will also not affect your baby. If your flight is a long one, just move around a bit and stretch your legs. However, frequent fliers need to be a bit more cautious.
F. Cell phones, microwaves and even computers are harmful.
Computers have been scientifically proven to be totally safe. As for microwaves, you are at risk of getting radiated only if there is a leakage. To be on the safer side maintain a safe distance while they are on. Similarly cell phones do not harm your baby in any way either.
G. My baby doesn’t seem to move much, is the development slow?
Not really. Your baby's movements start and continue at it’s own pace. If you are extremely worried about your baby's movements, try to keep a count once in a while. As long as you feel 10 movements over a twelve -hour period, you have no cause for worry. This will be frequently required as your delivery date gets closer. Unless you are actually counting, you might miss a few movements leading to unwarranted fears.
H. I should not get my hair dyed when I am pregnant
True. It is best to avoid chemicals like hair color during the first three months as these get absorbed from the scalp and reach the blood stream. During the latter half of pregnancy, however, it may not be that risky. Still, natural and herbal preparations should be preferred.
I. Pregnant women with low belly have a boy, and pregnancy acne means a girl.
False. How a woman carries her baby depends on her body type and whether she has been pregnant before. But in either case it does not reflect the gender at all. Also, in a second pregnancy, the pregnancy may appear to be lower since abdominal muscles may be looser. Similarly pregnancy acne also has nothing to do with gender; it is just a result of natural hormonal changes.
J. Slow foetal heart rate means a boy child and a fast foetal heart rate means a girl child.
There have been no studies that have conclusively proved that heart rate is a predictor for a baby's gender. Your baby's heart rate will probably differ from one prenatal visit to another anyway depending upon the age of the fetus and the activity level at the time of the visit.
K. Pregnant women shouldn't change cat litter.
This is true. A virus called Toxoplasmosis infection carried in cat faeces. This virus can be very harmful for pregnancy. In fact contact with kitty litter is not just limited to changing the cat litter box, the virus can be tracked anywhere a cat walks, including its paws. Due to this, all contact with the cat must be limited and the house must be kept extra clean.
L. Eating papaya causes abortion.
The truth is that raw papaya is suspected to contain chymopapain 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.
M. Eating hot and spicy foods can cause abortion.
If eaten in moderation, it causes no harm to the baby. However, one should avoid very spicy food as during pregnancy, many have the symptom of heartburn and very spicy food may increase it.
N. Pregnant mothers crave for pickles and ice cream.
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.
O. Pregnant mothers must eat for two.
Since the requirements of the pregnant mothers increase, she is supposed to eat a little extra, about 350 kcals more. What the pregnant mother actually needs is a well-balanced nutritious diet that consists of all the food groups, so that it fulfils the needs of all the nutrients adequately . Pregnancy is not about eating for two but eating a balanced diet.
P. Pregnant mothers shouldn't consume fish and fish oil.
False.Fish and shellfish are an important part of a healthy diet. Fish and shellfish contain high-quality protein and other essential nutrients, 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 or young child'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, salmon, pollock, and catfish), while minimizing mercury exposure by avoiding types of fish that are higher in mercury (for example, shark, swordfish, tilefish and king mackerel).
Q. Drinking coffee adversely affects pregnancy.
Again, false. 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.
The bottom-line is, eat well and have a healthy lifestyle but intelligently and there will be absolutely no reason to worry.When you know the real reasons and science behind these myths it can all be taken in good humour. Listen to what the elderly aunt next door has to say, but don't necessarily follow that!