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Dr Gayathri Kamath.Pregnancy, for ages, has invoked a lot of excitement, curiosity, suspense, and with that came many myths. The sex of the baby and myths related to them can be rather overwhelming for the expectant mother.
More so in a country like India, wherein sex determination of the foetus is banned, there are many who continue to speculate the sex of the child.
Myth number 1: If the foetal heart rate is an even number, then it means a male foetus or vice versa — there is no scientific basis behind this at all, as the foetus has a heart rate between 120 to 160 beats per minute and it changes from time to time. Sex does not play any role in determining its oddness or evenness.
Myth number 2: Cravings for sweet food means a male child may be born. Cravings towards spicy food would mean female. When a pregnant woman has no morning sickness, she is likely to harbour a male child is another popular myth — the pregnancy-related hormone, Human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG), irritates the chemoreceptor trigger zone and this causes nausea, hunger or cravings for certain food stuff.
Dislike towards certain smells is also mediated by the pregnancy hormones and is in no way linked to the sex of the foetus.
Myth number 3: The glow on the mother’s face determines the sex of the baby — this has no basis at all.
If a mother does not experience morning sickness and is drinking a lot of fluids and is on a healthy diet, she has all reasons to have glowing skin.
Myth number 4: Once a woman is pregnant, she needs to eat for two — this myth needs to clearly be dispelled as eating for two can pave the way for many complications.
A pregnant woman needs to add 400 to 500 kilo cals to her diet and consciously consume a balanced diet with fruits and greens. She needs two fruits a day, plenty of vegetables, a serving of tubers and shoots, milk and at least 10 to 12 glasses of water a day.
Myth number 5: While sleeping, a pregnant woman must sit down before turning sides. Otherwise, she is likely to get the cord entwined around the baby’s neck — the baby is attached to the mother’s womb at the placental level through the umbilical cord.
The baby keeps moving all the time in the uterus and can get the cord entwined around by its own movements and the mother’s movements have no role in the cord getting entwined around the baby’s neck.
Myth number 6: If the baby moves violently or incessantly, it means the baby is in trouble or the foetus is likely to hurt itself by doing so — the baby is positioned comfortably in the uterus in a bag of water and any kind of foetal movement would act as a buffer and no intrauterine injuries or fractures can ever occur.
Myth number 7: Consuming ghee will help deliver the baby easily as the passage is likely to get lubricated and allow the baby to slip through with ease — this myth causes lots of problems as the pregnant mother ends up gaining weight and this may cause more problems during labour.
The baby is delivered by the muscular contractions of the uterus which is created by labour pains and the maternal hormones, ghee or butter could never help the process of labour!
Myth number 8: Eating kesar helps the complexion of the baby and eating iron tablets during pregnancy may turn the baby’s skin dark — there is no logical, scientific evidence available to prove the same.
Myth number 9: Following the Chinese calendar and having planned intercourse on certain dates can help choose the sex of the baby — this is a myth with no scientific basis at all.
After all, the sex of the baby is determined by the chromosomal contribution from the father, which is in no way linked to any dates in a month.
Myth number 10: There are a lot of taboos, dos and don’ts which each Indian community has been following for ages, and defying them would cause agony to those around. Some of these are:
Consuming lots of ghee and dry fruits after labour helps increase the production of breast milk.Drinking lots of water by the lactating woman makes her put on too much weight and hence, she needs to restrict water intake.
During lactation, on the contrary, the mother needs to consume at least 2 to 3 litres of water as that is essential for her to produce milk. Water has no calories and obviously cannot contribute to weight gain.
Myth number 11: Having unprotected sex during lactation will not lead to pregnancy as lactating milk has contraceptive advantages — this is not true as ovulation could resume as early as 6 weeks after labour and one needs to start contraception at the earliest.
(The author is a consultant gynecologist and Obstetrician at Fortis Hospitals.)