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Pregnancy Nutrition: 10+ Myths Examined and Debunked

Pregnancy is a joyous time for all involved. The expectant mother is growing her baby and ensuring she is doing all the right things to keep her baby healthy, but with all the “can and can’t do’s” relating the what the mother should or shouldn’t eat, this joyous occasion can turn into a really stressful one. From pregnant women in Japan were told eating spicy food will make their baby bad-tempered, to Chinese women being told not to eat squid as it makes the womb sticky. There is a lot to consider when deciding whether you are providing your baby with the right nutrients it requires, but does it really need to be as stressful as some articles make us believe.

Let’s take a look at some of the pregnancy nutrition myths and decide for ourselves:

You’re eating for two so you need to eat more

Wrong!, whilst the expectant mother will need to up her nutrient intake, no mother has even had to double her daily calorie intake to provide the right nutrients for her baby (unless her intake was extremely below her recommended intake initially). In fact “eating for two” can cause excessive weight gain, leading to the possibility of having a high birth weight baby, which itself can cause complications for both mother and baby. So instead of “eating for two” listen to your body and eat twice as healthy not twice as much.

Don’t eat fish its bad for you because of its high mercury content

Whilst there is a lot of truth in this, fish itself has too many nutritional values to avoid completely. Mercury is a big concern during pregnancy as studies have shown that even in low doses it can impair the baby’s nervous system and brain, potentially impairing, motor skills, vision, language, and cognitive skills. However there are some types of fish that are healthy and low in mercury, which are safe to eat during pregnancy, these include salmon, sardines, trout, and herring.

Lower your water intake to avoid frequent toilet needs

In-fact the urges to use the bathroom regularly are actually pregnancy symptoms, due to your baby’s position on your bladder. Actually going to the bathroom more often doesn’t mean you should cut back on your water intake, it is recommended that pregnant women drink more as water delivers essential nutrients to your baby through your bloodstream.

Your pregnancy cravings are a way of your baby telling you what it needs, so give into them and give your baby what it’s asking for

So craving your favorite bag of crisps now and then and indulging is quite alright, however, you need to do this in moderation. There is actually no evidence to suggest that your cravings are a sign of what your body needs, and cravings for things other than food, such as sand, ice, etc should be discussed with your doctor as this could relate to a medical condition.

Stop exercising you may harm your baby

Whilst years ago doctors used to advise pregnant women to rest during their pregnancy, now a days we know that staying active during your pregnancy is really beneficial for both mother and baby. The recommended 30 minutes of light exercise per day can help you feel better in yourself, prevent gestational diabetes and even manage your stress levels. Any exercise out of your regular routine should however always be discussed with a doctor.

Put down the coffee you can’t have caffeine!

Being told you CAN’T have caffeine is not strictly true, whilst caffeine is certainly something that needs to be limited during pregnancy it can be taken in moderation. The recommended daily caffeine intake for a pregnant woman is 200 milligrams per day, which is roughly 4 cups of tea or 2 cups of coffee (average cup size). It is however important to remember that other foodstuff containing caffeine counts towards your daily intake, and yes this does include chocolate. If your worried about your caffeine intake you should talk to your doctor.

Drop the salt!

It is a common misconception that salt causes swelling during pregnancy. As it happens, swelling is perfectly normal whilst expecting. Salt contains sodium which is an important electrolyte, and helps the body regulate fluids. So no you don’t need to drop the salt, especially when most foods contain some traces of it. You should try and stick to the recommended daily amounts of 6 grams per day. Remember Salt can be in a lot of foods so remember to check the label.

Don’t eat peanuts your baby may be allergic to them

Many years ago peanuts were not on the list of foods that you need to avoid during pregnancy. When they were eventually added to the list it caused panic, with expectant mothers, lead to believe that eating as much a single peanut could cause the baby a reaction or lead the baby to have an allergy later in life. More recent studies have actually proved that unless you are allergic to them, then peanuts are safe to eat in moderation during pregnancy, as no evidence shows a link to the baby developing an allergy or not.

Never eat Sushi

Just like with fish in general you have to be careful with the type of sushi you consume because of mercury content. Raw or wild caught sushi can contain small worms which is said to be more harmful to the mother than the baby. If you enjoy sushi you should stick to cooked or frozen versions as these processes will kill the worms. It is important to do your research and eat in moderation.

I can have a glass of wine with my dinner

There is no safe amount of alcohol you can drink when pregnant, according to the congress of obstetricians and gynecologists (ACOG). Drinking alcohol leads to a higher risk of your baby developing fetal alcohol syndrome. That said some obstetricians say that the occasional half a glass of wine after the first trimester poses little risk. Never overdo it.

Don’t eat citrus fruits

Some expectant mothers have been told that eating citrus fruits, can cause them to catch coughs, colds and the flu. This couldn’t be any more absurd as citrus fruits contain a whole host of nutritional benefits for both mother and baby, They are especially rich in much needed vitamin C. So you certainly don’t have to worry about eating citrus fruits whilst pregnant. Dig in!.

The most important thing to consider when looking at these pregnancy nutrition myths, is the types of nutrition you are consuming, the amounts in which you are consuming them and if you are ever unsure of anything you should consult your doctor for advice.

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