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Jan 31, 2017

Save yourself from falling into trap of a plethora of myths surrounding diet before pregnancy.

Here are some myths you must be aware of:

  • I should eat more food and reduce my physical activity

    Healthy weight is important for conception. Eat healthy to maintain healthy weight according to your height. High body fat percent may affect hormonal balance and delay the conception. About 30-45 minutes of moderate exercise daily helps achieve healthy weight and build lean muscle mass to support pregnancy. Avoid engaging in vigorous activities, as these have been associated with reduced fertility.

  • I should not take any medicines while I am trying to get pregnant; not even folic acid prescribed by the doctor.

    A blanket 'NO' to all medicines and supplements is not advised. Your doctor knows your health condition and may prescribe necessary medicines to protect you and your baby. Folic acid is an important nutrient that doctors prescribe to prevent birth defects in your baby and is best if taken before conceiving.

  • All I need is a good nutrient supplement;
    and my baby will be healthy.

    Eating a well-balanced diet with a variety of foods, adequate physical activity and a healthy lifestyle all play significant role in having a healthy baby. Simply popping in nutrient supplements will not undo your wrong food and lifestyle habits. Be cautious about diet advice from anyone and everyone around you. When in doubts, always consult qualified nutritionist or credible websites.

  • I should not eat any fish and seafood.

    No. Seafood can be an important part of a balanced diet. It provides high-quality protein and other nutrients, and is low in fat. It is OK to eat a variety of fish/seafood, which is low in mercury like shrimp, salmon, pollock and catfish. Swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel and shark are very high in methyl mercury content, which can accumulate in your body and harm your baby when you get pregnant.

  • I must avoid all kinds of cheeses.

    You need to avoid only soft cheeses or any foods made of unpasteurised or raw milk such as feta and brie unless they have labels that say they are pasteurised. Unpasteurised foods may contain Listeria (harmful bacteria). It is safe to eat hard cheeses and semi-soft cheeses such as mozzarella, cream cheese, pasteurised processed cheese slices and spreads, and cottage cheese.

  • I can start taking folic acid once I get pregnant.

    You must start taking 400 micrograms of folic acid, at least one month before pregnancy, to reduce the risk of neural tube defects in your baby. As neural tube defects start developing 18—30 days after conception even before you know that you are pregnant, taking folic acid is important both before and during pregnancy.

  • I can drink as much as tea and coffee as I like. Tea and coffee
    are safe drinks; if I want I can stop once I conceive.

    Excess caffeine can lower your chances of conception. Take caffeine in moderation, that is, less than 200 mg/day. One cup (8 oz) instant coffee contains nearly 76 mg and 1 cup brewed tea contains nearly 48 mg caffeine.

  • Now is the time to enjoy all junk foods. Anyways, I have to
    eat healthy once I get pregnant.

    Preconception nutrition is important for good fertility, easy conception and proper development of baby. Junk foods are generally high in bad quality fats (trans fats) that not only reduce your chance of getting pregnant but also increase your risk of heart problems later in life.

  • I can enjoy occasional alcoholic drinks or cigarette puffs
    now; anyways I will leave it once I get pregnant.

    You must stop alcohol use and smoking tobacco or other substances immediately. Alcohol can reduce your fertility and chance of getting pregnant. Cigarette smoke contains toxic gases, tar and chemicals that can harm you and your baby.

These are just a tip of the iceberg in a sea of myths on preconception diet. News is full of contradictory reports, which can be inaccurate and misleading. So, be cautious! If an advice seems too good to be true. it probably is.

Good luck conceiving!