RSS Feed

5 Pregnancy Food Myths Demystified

Posted on
Pregnancy Food Myths

Pregnancy Food Myths (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Myth #1: Eat for two, when pregnant.

Truth: The nutritional needs of an expectant mother certainly increase. But it does not call for eating for two. The principles of nutrition do not, under any circumstance, recommend hogging. The aim should be to eat a well-balanced diet to ensure health of both mother and foetus. Extra care should be taken to avert nutrient deficiencies (iron and folic acid) that are common during pregnancy. Supplements should be taken as per doctor’s advice.

Myth #2: Eating papaya during pregnancy leads to miscarriage.

Truth: Papaya is believed to be an abortifacient (a substance that causes abortion). The belief is so deep-rooted in the Indian culture that even the learned and well-informed keep away from papaya during pregnancy. Its because they do not want to take chances.  Actually, it is only the unripe/semi-ripe green papaya that contains high concentrations of latex which mimics the action of labour-inducing hormones like oxytocin and prostaglandins. But as the papaya ripens the latex content decreases and it becomes safe for consumption. These facts were strengthened by a rat study published in the British Journal of Nutrition. So a pregnant mother can very well include ripe papaya in her diet, without causing any perils to the foetus.  It might in fact mitigate heart burns or constipation which are common during pregnancy.

Myth #3: Saffron intake during gestation makes the to-be-born baby fair-skinned.

Truth: The skin colour of the baby is purely determined by genes and nothing else. It is a tradition in India to gift pregnant mothers with small boxes of saffron. Milk flavoured with a pinch of the powder or few of its strands are given to pregnant mothers, in the hope that it would make the baby light-skinned. Alas, what saffron does is improve the colour (and flavour) of just the dish and not that of the baby. If there is anybody who benefits from this purported claim of saffron, it is of course its seller – as such saffron is the most expensive spice in the world – as little as a gram costs anywhere between Rs.80 – 300.  

Myth #4: Consumption of a lot of ghee during child-bearing phase eases delivery; consumption of a lot of ghee during postpartum period quickens healing of uterus.

Truth: These are the most outrageous food misconceptions associated with pregnancyFunny that somebody even imagined child delivery to be like baking – grease the tray to facilitate easy release of the finished product. Ghee neither eases parturition nor helps in swift healing of uterus.  Remember! ghee is saturated fat and its consumption in excess will only lead to undesirable body weight and subsequently other related ailments.

Myth #5: Eat well once water breaks or pain starts because you will not be given food for another few hours.

Truth: Eat or drink nothing once the water breaks or pain starts.  In the words of the famous obstetrician and gynaecologist, Dr. Gita Arjun,

“When you are in active labour, it is best to avoid any solid food. As the cervix dilates, there is a tendency to vomit. Drink small amounts of water, buttermilk, milk or juices. You may be asked to have only sips of water or nothing at all, if the obstetrician suspects that you might require a Caesarean section. This will prevent you from having a full stomach if an emergency Caesarean section is decided upon. This makes it less risky to give you anaesthesia.”

If you want to pooh pooh other pregnancy food myths, share them in the comments; if you are one of those who has daringly broken a pregnancy food myth and survived a full-fledged, healthy pregnancy, share your success story with the readers; if you have been a victim of such myths and left to pathetically crave for some of the so called forbidden foods all through pregnancy, vent your feelings here. 

Related Topic:

Food Myths Vs Facts


5 responses »

  1. Sanga, i just wondered if its true that ghee consumed post delivery increased the quality or quantity or both of mothers milk? any idea?

    I believe all the foods given post delivery traditionally have some advantage but the benefits r long forgotten ….

    some that I know of
    fenugreek seeds,dink – to increase milk
    jeera,garlic – reduce acidity
    kaljeerige(in tulu),garlic -uterine contraction
    black jaggery- iron
    sasige( in tulu),mustard with unknown functions
    Also, is there any truth abt the myth that foods have a cooling or heat effect (tamp or ushna) on the body

    • Rani, very interesting queries there. Each query would make a good topic for the blog.

      I don’t think ghee has any active principle that improves lactation. The belief might have originated because of the calories that ghee provides, which may help nursing mother to stay energized.

      Even I used to be a staunch believer of galactogogues, until I started probing into evidence based research. There, many turn out to be mere fallacies. I have discussed about garlic and its impact on the volume of milk in Food Facts Vs. Myths (

      Jaggery is usually preferred to sugar for sweet preparations. Sugar is just empty calories whereas jaggery provides sweetness along with iron and other minerals.

      Sesame or til seed is another food that is avoided during pregnancy for fear that it induces uterine contractions. Well, this is another food fad. It may contain substances that mimic hormonal effects but it would take consumption in enormous amounts to produce that effect. Sesame in moderate amounts may be good as it is rich in iron.

      As for all the other foods and their effects, I have also heard of them. But I have not really had time to look into clinical studies supporting or negating them. As long as they do not produce any harm, eating them with faith may atleast give a placebo effect.

      I don’t believe in the concept of ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ foods. May be we associate the foods, to the form in which we consume them or the seasons in which they appear – lime is always taken as a chilled juice and so is considered a coolant, whereas mango that happens to be in season during summer is thought to be heaty.

      • speaking of cool lemon juice considered cooling ..surprisingly i heard ice cream is actually heat producing….

  2. Yeah…surprising. I too read something similar about ice cubes.

    Also came across a long list of hot and cold foods/yin-yang-neutral foods, their classification based on the effects they produce on the body. If I find some interesting scientific articles or studies relating to this, will share them with you.


What is your opinion?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: