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Myths About Pregnancy

  1. Air travel during pregnancy increases the risk of complications.
  2. Sexual intercourse should be avoided during pregnancy as it can damage the womb and the baby inside it.
  3. Coffee should be strictly avoided during pregnancy.
  4. The baby’s position in the womb can tell you his/her gender.
  5. Pregnant women should eat enough for two persons.
  6. Woman who adopts a vegetarian diet during pregnancy deprives the baby of nutrients required for proper development and the baby will be less healthy or smart than those whose mothers are non-vegetarian.
  7. Food cravings during pregnancy occur as a result of a lack in specific nutrients that the developing baby needs by the mother’s body. Hence, if the cravings are not satisfied, the baby’s development will be adversely affected.

  1. Air travel during pregnancy increases the risk of complications.

  2. False.

    Air travel is not harmful to the developing fetus and women who are pregnant (and with no other medical conditions) need not avoid flying during pregnancy. Some airlines may not allow pregnant women onboard if they are in their third trimester, because of the lack of adequate medical facilities in case of going into labor while onboard or mid-flight. Similarly, exposure to the radiation from body scanners and X-ray machines used at security gantries are not significant enough to cause harm to the developing baby.

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  3. Sexual intercourse should be avoided during pregnancy as it can damage the womb and the baby inside it.
  4. False.

    Sexual intercourse need not be avoided in pregnancy, unless otherwise advised by the doctor. Sexual intercourse during pregnancy does not physically harm the baby, as the baby is fully protected within the amniotic sac and the thick muscular walls of the uterus. Nevertheless, the baby is not protected from sexually transmitted infections including HIV and genital herpes. In addition, intercourse may not be advisable if there's any threat of miscarriage or preterm labor or if there's unexplained vaginal bleeding during pregnancy.

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  5. Coffee should be strictly avoided during pregnancy.
  6. Coffee

    False.

    Caffeine-containing beverages (such as coffee, tea, cola, etc.) can be safely consumed during pregnancy, but in moderation. Results from animal studies suggest that excessive caffeine intake may be linked to miscarriage, low birth weight or birth defects like cleft palate. In humans, caffeine is known to cross the placenta but there are insufficient studies to provide conclusive data about the effect of caffeine in human fetuses. Experts recommend limiting the intake of caffeine to 200mg per day. The table below shows some food products which commonly contain caffeine.

    Food

    Serving size

    Approx. caffeine content

    Regular coffee

    240ml

    40 – 200 mg

    Decaffeinated coffee

    240ml

    2 – 15 mg

    Cola

    355ml (about 1 can)

    30 – 50 mg

    Red bull

    250ml

    75 – 80 mg

    Black tea

    240ml

    14 – 61 mg

    Green tea

    240ml

    25 – 40 mg

    Chocolate chips, semi-sweet

    1 cup

    110 mg

    Reference: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/caffeine/AN01211

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  7. The baby’s position in the womb can tell you his/her gender.
  8. False.

    Neither the position of the baby in the womb, nor the shape of the mother’s abdomen, tells you the gender of the developing fetus. The only means of confirming the gender of the fetus is through an ultrasound scan.

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  9. Pregnant women should eat enough for two persons.
  10. False.

    Women only need an extra 300 calories a day during pregnancy. Over-eating can result in unwanted weight gain which increases the risk of gestational diabetes and high blood pressure for the mother.

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  11. Woman who adopts a vegetarian diet during pregnancy deprives the baby of nutrients required for proper development and the baby will be less healthy or smart than those whose mothers are non-vegetarian.
  12. False.

    Regardless of the food source – vegetable or animal – a balanced diet that includes iron, calcium and a variety of vitamins, is essential for optimal health of the baby and the mother. Women who are vegetarian need to ensure sufficient intake of protein. As for all pregnant women, supplements may be considered for nutrients which are not sufficiently provided for in their diet. Always consult a doctor or pharmacist before taking any health supplement. The table below shows a list of important nutrients and their common sources.

    Nutrient Function Common food source Recommended daily intake
    Folic acid Prevents neural tube defects in fetus, and prevents anaemia in mother. Dark green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits and juices, yeast and meat extracts, liver and beans. 600 mcg
    Iron Required for blood formation. Red meat, green leafy vegetables, legumes, bean curd, nuts, eggs, whole cereals. 19 mg
    Vitamin A Promotes growth of tissues. Liver, egg yolk, milk, red/ yellow fruits, red/green vegetables 2500 IU
    (However, supplementation of vitamin A should be avoided in the first trimester as intake of more than 10,000 IU of Vitamin A daily can harm the foetus.)
    Vitamin B12 Required for blood formation. Food of animal origin eggs, meat, milk. Vegans require supplements to meet the daily requirement. 3mg
    Vitamin C Increases the absorption of iron from non-animal food source (ie. non-heme iron). Fresh fruits and vegetables. 50 mg (ie. about 2 servings of fruits and vegetables daily)
    Vitamin D Required for absorption of calcium Fortified milk, sardines 10 mcg
    Also naturally produced in the skin upon exposure to sunlight for 10 – 15min daily.
    Calcium Required for development of bones and teeth in the baby, and to maintain calcium store in the mother’s body. Dairy products like milk, cheese and yoghurt (Opt for low/non-fat.)
    Broccoli, spinach, bean curd. Fish with edible bones such as sardines and ikan bilis
    1000 mg (ie. about 2 cups of high calcium milk or 4 servings of calcium-rich food)
    Reference: http://www.healthxchange.com.sg/healthyliving/womenhealth/Pages/balance-diet-pregnancy.aspx

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  13. Food cravings during pregnancy occur as a result of a lack in specific nutrients that the developing baby needs by the mother’s body. Hence, if the cravings are not satisfied, the baby’s development will be adversely affected.
  14. False.

    The exact cause of food cravings in pregnancy remains unknown, although researchers theorize that the phenomenon may be linked to hormonal changes, or temporary nutritional deficiencies in the mother. Some women also experience cravings for certain foods despite receiving adequate nutrients for their baby.

    Because women in pregnancy need only to consume about 300 more calories per day than their usual intake, giving in too frequently or too much to cravings for high calorie foods may result in excessive weight gain that increases the risk of gestational diabetes and high blood pressure.

    In general, when coping with food cravings, the women should be mindful to:

    • Eat a balanced diet that includes whole grains, lean proteins, vegetables, fruits and low fat dairy products each day.
    • Eat regular meals to avoid drastic dips in blood sugar levels which can trigger food cravings. Taking 3 main meals with 2 – 3 small snacks in between may be helpful
    • Limit the intake of high calorie food to small portions rather than entire portion servings.

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