With pregnancy comes an overwhelming amount of advice and information that can be tough to navigate, especially when it comes to food
By Dr Janice TUNG, Associate Consultant and Associate Professor Tan Thiam Chye, Visiting Consultant, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital
At this stage of your pregnancy in week 13, you may have received plenty of advice on what you should and shouldn’t eat. But which are facts and which are just old wives’ tales? Here are some of the most widely-held, but untrue beliefs about pregnancy and food.
It is a common misconception that you should eat twice the amount of food you usually do during your pregnancy. After all, it seems to make sense as you are supporting a baby inside you.
However, the ‘eating-for-two’ mindset might cause you to overeat, resulting in unnecessary weight gain that can harm your baby. Instead, you should focus on the quality instead of quantity of food you eat.
While you can enjoy all food in moderation, try to cut down on fat, salt, and sugar. Find ways to incorporate more wholegrains, fruit, vegetables, legumes, and low-fat dairy products into your diet.
These foods are nutrient rich and have healthy benefits for you and your baby!
Pregnancy Weight Gain Checklist
You might have heard of the old wives’ tale that eating more light-coloured foods such as bird’s nest and tofu and strictly avoiding all dark-coloured food can result in your baby being born with fairer skin.
This is a myth, as the food you eat cannot change the colour of your baby’s skin. Skin colour is determined by genetics, and there has been no clinical evidence to support the claim that food like bird’s nest can lighten skin pigmentation. By avoiding certain foods purely due to its colour, you might not be getting all the important nutrients that are vital for your baby’s growth.
The best way to help your baby thrive is to eat healthy and well-balanced meals with food from all four groups – protein, fibre, carbohydrates, and healthy fat!
Nutrition During Pregnancy—Eating Right for Two
You might be extra wary of traditionally classified ‘cooling’ foods like pineapple and grass jelly, as there is a common belief that these foods may increase the risk of a miscarriage. As a result, you might be fearful of these foods and avoid eating them entirely during your pregnancy.
Do not worry, as there are no documented cases of these foods causing miscarriages. It is safe for you to consume them.
However, do take note of improperly prepared foods that can increase your risk of illness during pregnancy.
For a safer pregnancy, certain foods such as raw meat, unpasteurised milk, caffeine and alcohol are not recommended and should be avoided.
Recent studies written by James JE. at the BMJ Evidence-based Medicine 2021 journal for example have shown that caffeine increases risks during pregnancy and should be avoided completely.
9 Pregnancy Myths Debunked
Many people believe that full cream milk contains a higher concentration of nutrients. Contrary to popular belief, full cream milk is not better than its low fat or skimmed milk counterparts.
The same amount of nutrients found in full cream milk can be found in low fat or skimmed milk. In fact, full cream milk tends to contain more saturated fat and is higher in calories.
Hence, the healthier choice is to consume low fat or skimmed milk during pregnancy and when you are breastfeeding.
Eating right for Breastfeeding
Traditional herbal teas and tonics are often touted as products that can miraculously improve your baby’s intelligence if consumed.
However, there is no medical or scientific evidence that supports these claims.
The good news is, although teas and tonics cannot improve intelligence, certain Omega-3 rich foods like salmon and eggs can in fact boost your baby’s intelligence and vision!
The food that you eat during your pregnancy can affect your and your baby’s health.
A pregnant woman requires more than
30 types of nutrients daily to help sustain good health and promote foetal growth for the baby. These include macronutrients (e.g. carbohydrate, protein and fat) and micronutrients (e.g. vitamins and minerals such as iron, vitamin C and calcium), all of which have different functions for the body, and all play a role in ensuring good pregnancy outcomes.
Read more here.
While you might hear of a lot of nutrition advice from well-meaning friends and family, avoid following these myths without consulting a proper doctor or dietician. If you are concerned about your diet, a professional can help give you better guidance on the types and portions of foods you should eat to maximise your nutrient intake. This way, you can better safeguard your pregnancy and do the best for you and your baby!
Visit Parent Hub, for more useful tips and guides for a healthy pregnancy.
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This article was last reviewed on
22 Nov 2023
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