It is the joy of every woman to carry her pregnancy to term and bring forth a healthy baby. Every expectant mother does the best she can to ensure that the unborn child is safe. There is so much to deal with, starting from the cravings, mood swings, and crazy body changes.
One of the concerns during pregnancy is the diet that the mother takes. However, with the overload of information about what a pregnant mother should or should not eat, it is possible to get exposed to the wrong kind of information, much of which is mythical. There is need to dispel some of the myths that most people have come to believe to be true. Here is a highlight of a few:
Myth 1: During pregnancy, a woman should eat twice as much.
Fact: It is not advisable to eat twice the amount of food as this can lead to excess weight gain. Consumption of too many calories is not safe for both the mother and the unborn child. Excessive weight gain can expose the baby to gestational diabetes, which causes the baby to become too big.
If this happens, the chances of undergoing a cesarean section or exposing the baby to birth trauma are increased. After childbirth, the mother also risks having weight-related health complications. These include cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes.
Myth 2: Vegetables can be replaced with fruits during pregnancy.
Fact: Fruits and vegetables contain some similar nutrients, but they belong to two distinct food groups. They should not be used interchangeably because the types of phytochemicals found in fruits are different from those found in vegetables. Doctors recommend that during pregnancy, a woman should have two servings of fruits and three servings of vegetables daily.
Myth 3: A skinny woman can eat whatever she wants during pregnancy.
Fact: Whether skinny or not, a pregnant woman should not adopt the attitude that she should “eat for two.” The most important thing about pregnancy diets is to ensure that it is well-balanced. The baby needs to get optimal nutrition from what the mother eats.
When the feeling to eat anything arises, one should check to see that it is nutritious or substitute it with foods that have significant amounts of healthy calories. Eating junk food to gain weight during pregnancy is highly discouraged.
Myth 4: It is a must to take mineral and vitamin supplements to meet the pregnancy requirements.
Fact: It is not necessary to take supplements, especially if the health of the mother is not compromised. A well-balanced diet is sufficient to provide all the nutrients that both the child and the mother require during the gestation period.
However, this does not exempt a pregnant mother from taking folic acid. It is crucial that it is taken as soon as conception takes place, and during the first trimester to lessen the risk of neural tube defects.
Supplements can, however, be taken in case of a history of poor dietary habits, teenage pregnancy, restricted diet for example vegan, or where pregnancy occurs while the mother is still breastfeeding. A doctor or dietician should provide more information about the amount to be taken, or how to deal with any side effects or reactions.
Myth 5: A pregnant mother should restrict her food intake to prevent weight gain.
Fact: If a woman eats too little during pregnancy to avoid gaining weight, she prevents her child from getting sufficient nutrients. Besides, the child might acquire chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, or hypertension later in life. It is always advisable to eat or consume as much as the body demands to ensure that the baby is well nourished. Water intake should also be increased.
Myth 6: Avoid movements as much as possible.
Fact: Gone are the days when women were advised to put up their feet the whole time during pregnancy. Professionals and non-professionals alike know that mild exercises and staying active during pregnancy help a woman stay relaxed, manage stress, and feel better. Staying active keeps diseases like gestational diabetes at bay.
More interestingly, staying active comes in handy during labor. It may shorten the duration and make delivery easier. Exercises also make it possible to snap back in shape faster after delivery than an inactive expectant mother. However, it is advisable to check with the doctor first about the type of exercises to do during pregnancy.
The Bottom Line
These are just some of the myths surrounding pregnancy diets, but there is so much that can be misleading. Whenever there is doubt about something, it is advisable to seek expert advice and to check with the doctor what is safe for consumption and what is not. After all, no one wants to make their unborn child suffer just because their diet is amiss.
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