Are you a soon-to-be-mom feeling overwhelmed with advice on what to eat and what not to eat during pregnancy? Welcome to the club! As an expectant mother in India, you are likely being bombarded with a long list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to pregnancy nutrition. Whether it is the neighborhood aunties, relatives you’ve never heard of, or even random strangers on the street, everyone feels like they are entitled to give you pre and post pregnancy nutrition advice. And the worst part is that sometimes these age-old misconceptions could make your pregnancy even harder than it already is!
From drinking gallons of milk to eating enough ghee to fill a swimming pool, the myths surrounding pregnancy nutrition in India can be downright hilarious (and sometimes a little scary). Of course, there might be some truth to these beliefs. But how do you separate fact from fiction when it comes to pregnancy nutrition? It is definitely not easy, but it can be done with the right help. That is, your pre or postnatal diet lesson plan should come from an experienced professional, rather than an internet stranger or a well-meaning relative. Read on to debunk some of the most ridiculous pregnancy myths that Indian moms are expected to follow.
From bizarre food taboos to dangerous dietary restrictions, let’s debunk 5 of the most common pregnancy nutrition myths in India!
Myth 1: The type of cravings you have can help you determine the sex of your baby.
Ah, the old wives’ tale that has been around for generations– the type of cravings a pregnant woman has can determine the sex of the baby. If only it were that simple, we could just order a specific meal to get the gender we want! Sorry to burst your bubble, but craving rasgullas doesn’t mean you’re having a girl, and wanting a huge helping of achaar doesn’t mean it’s a boy.
These cravings do, however, serve an important purpose. Cravings are your body telling you what it needs. If you are craving chocolate, for instance, it might be because your body needs magnesium and not because you are carrying a girl. If you crave spinach, your body is telling you that it needs more iron, not that you will be having a boy. The best thing you can do is to consult a qualified dietician who can help you analyze these cravings and create the best pre/postnatal diet lesson plans that address your body’s needs.
Myth 2: Clarified butter or ghee can ease your delivery and help your healing postpartum.
Pregnant women in India are often advised to consume excess amounts of clarified butter or ghee, especially in the later stages of pregnancy. People often tell you this can help you easily push the baby into your pelvis, making the delivery much smoother. Even after delivery, the “benefits” of including a lot of ghee in your diet are touted. It is said that a dairy-rich diet can help in the healing of your uterus and the production of breast milk.
In reality, however, there is no scientific proof that clarified butter and ghee ever make childbirth easier or your postpartum healing faster. If you consult an experienced dietician, they would help you understand that while these saturated fats help your body absorb more EFAs (Essential Fatty Acids), it is not recommended to consume an unmoderated amount of them during your pregnancy. All this to say that while dairy products can help as a healthy part of a balanced diet, there is no need to consume unhealthy amounts of them to make your pregnancy and post-pregnancy healing easier.
Myth 3: Pregnant women need to eat for two so that the baby gets enough nutrients.
Ah, the best pregnancy myth for the foodies out there! Eating for two is a dream come true for those of us who love to indulge in our favorite foods. But unfortunately, it’s just that– a myth. You see, the baby growing inside you is obviously not adult-sized, so why would you need to consume two adult-sized portions for their growth? When you are pregnant, you only need to consume about 300 extra calories a day to support the growth and development of your baby. That is the equivalent of an extra apple and a small handful of nuts, not a whole other second meal!
Eating too much during pregnancy can be harmful to both you and your baby. It can lead to excessive weight gain, gestational diabetes, and other health issues that could mess with your body long after the pregnancy. So, while it may be tempting to indulge in every craving and eat for two, just remember that moderation is key.
Myth 4: Consuming saffron during pregnancy will give your baby a fair complexion.
The Indian obsession with fair skin is well-known. It is not surprising that one of the most common pregnancy myths you will be told is the one and only “saffron for a fair-skinned baby” myth. So is there no point in consuming saffron during your pregnancy? Well, saffron does have its positives– it helps with digestion, regulates blood pressure, boosts sleep quality, and reduces morning sickness. What it doesn’t do is magically change your baby’s skin tone!
This saffron myth is so widespread that many expectant mothers are often forced to consume it even if they don’t want to. However, you need to be careful around this spice. While saffron does have its benefits, consuming more than 5 grams of it in a day can stimulate your uterus and in extreme cases, even lead to miscarriages.
Myth 5: You need to start doing situps and crunches ASAP after delivery to lose belly fat.
Now, we get what you’re probably thinking, “Won’t doing situps and crunches help me get my pre-baby body back faster?” Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Losing belly fat after delivery takes time, especially since your body has gone through so much and needs to heal first. The time and effort you will have to put into reaching your pre-baby weight will also depend on your genetics, age, and type of pregnancy.
But whatever the situation is, it is not recommended to start engaging in high-impact exercises too soon after delivery as it can lead to injury which further increases your recovery time. The best thing you can do is consult your doctor about developing a postnatal diet lesson plan that includes gentle exercises like yoga or walking. A good pre and post pregnancy nutritionist can help you develop the right plan that doesn’t focus on high-intensity exercises or hinder your progress.
Pregnancy myths, old wives’ tales, well-meaning advice, outdated superstitions– call them what you will but they have been around for decades and will probably be around for more. There are thousands of beliefs about what expectant mothers should and shouldn’t do, especially in India. Of course, some of these might have stemmed from facts but some of them are just there to confuse you. One thing is for sure– don’t believe everything when it comes to pre and post pregnancy nutrition and always consult a Certified dietician!