Food Myths

Expecting a bundle of joy? Dr Kelly Loi of the
pregnancy-related food myths and shares advice on eating for two.

Myth: I don’t need to take vitamins until I know I’m pregnant.

Truth: Vitamins play a vital role very early in foetal development, which may begin even before you know you are pregnant. If you’re trying to get pregnant, it would be ideal to take a prenatal vitamin as soon as you plan to conceive. This will ensure adequate stores of the vitamins necessary in early foetal development. To prevent certain birth defects, such as spina bifida in particular, the consumption of 400 micrograms of folic acid per day is recommended from the time you are trying to conceive up to three months into pregnancy.

Myth: I’m eating for two, so I should eat twice as much food.

Truth: What you eat during pregnancy definitely has an impact on your developing baby. However, this does not equate to eating twice the amount of food. During pregnancy, your daily calorie intake should increase by just around 300 calories. It would be good to obtain these calories by eating healthy foods.

Myth: I can’t eat fish and other types of seafood.

Truth: There is a certain amount of truth to this statement. On the one hand, fish has been promoted as a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and protein. But on the other hand, mercury and other contaminants in fish can be harmful to the foetus. Evidence suggests it is best to avoid deep-sea fish like swordfish, king mackerel, shark, tilefish and albacore tuna, which may contain high levels of mercury.

Other types of seafood you should avoid include oysters and other shellfish unless they have been thoroughly cooked. When they are raw, these types of seafood might be contaminated with harmful bacteria, viruses or toxins that could make you ill. It is unusual for shellfish to contain listeria, a type of food poisoning bacteria that can actually harm the unborn baby. However, listeria can be found in raw or undercooked meat as well as in undercooked eggs, unpasteurised soft blue cheeses and any type of pâté. Therefore, these food items are best avoided.

Myth: Papayas and pineapples cause miscarriage.

Truth: Fruits that are ripe and sweet, including papayas and pineapples, are generally safe to eat. Raw papayas and pineapples may contain a substance capable of inducing miscarriages, but only if consumed in very large amounts. A miscarriage usually occurs because there is an abnormality in the foetus.

Myth: Spicy foods are unsafe during pregnancy.

Truth: Spicy foods are safe for your baby, but they may cause you heartburn. However, if you feel comfortable and happy eating spicy foods, there is no reason why you should not indulge in piquant cuisine.

Myth: Alcoholic drinks won’t hurt my baby.

Truth: There is no amount of alcohol that can be considered safe for a growing baby. Of course, the larger the consumption the greater the risk, but the best thing you can do for your baby is the stay away from alcohol entirely.

Dr Kelly Loi Obstetrician & Singapore Gynaecologist

Health & Fertility Centre for Women is every modern woman’s partner in health, meeting all your medical needs, from fertility management and delivery, through to motherhood and beyond, using state-of-the-art facilities within a safe and comfortable environment.
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Tel: 6235 5066

April 2013 |

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