However scientific your bent of mind is, a part of you remains irrational, a part that believes in myths. It is my policy to allow family members to propagate myths that are harmless but put my foot down when it comes to traditions that harm the mother and fetus. However, one thing about myths is that they are interesting. Let us examine some common myths concerning diet in pregnancy and decide which can be followed and which should not.
A pregnant woman should eat for two – false. A balanced nutritious diet and not overeating is the call of the day.
Garam and thanda foods - this does not pertain to the temperature of the food. ‘Hot’ foods are those that produce ‘body heat’ like meats, chicken and eggs. Pregnant women are prevented from eating them lest they abort and are thus deprived of a regular source of good protein.
‘Cold’ foods like curd, juices and even water are not to be consumed during labour as they will delay delivery – In fact a woman in labour needs to be well hydrated by regular intake of fluids.
Papaya should not be eaten during pregnancy– Raw papaya consumed in high quantities can cause abortions. However, ripe papaya can be eaten for it helps relieve constipation.
Drinking tea and coffee will make the baby dark – False. The colour of the baby depends upon the colour he inherits from his parents and not on what his mother consumes, though a high intake of caffeine can cause miscarriage.
Eating the white kernel of a coconut early morning during pregnancy makes the baby fair – false, again due to the above reason.
Pregnant women are given ghee in milk during labour to facilitate delivery – they are lubricating the wrong hole! One good reason to avoid ghee during labour is that it remains in the stomach for a long time leading to anesthetic complications in case an emergency cesarean section has to be performed.
Post-delivery some communities do not give cereals and pulses to the woman for seven days depriving her of adequate nourishment.
Tea boiled in milk clears the uterine debris after delivery – false.
Milk causes infection of stitches after cesarean delivery - false.
If it was hot and cold foods during pregnancy, it is bhari (heavy) and halka (light) foods while breast feeding. A lactating mother is not allowed to eats ‘heavy’ foods like full grain pulses as it causes indigestion and colic in the baby – false. Food is converted into breast milk, which has the same constituents in the same proportion, no matter what one eats. However, one must be cautious regarding the ingestion of medicines during lactation for some are secreted in breast milk and can harm the baby.