Perceived and Expected Behaviors of Pregnant Mothers and Their Truths

Once family or friends find out you are becoming a mum or already breastfeeding, they all will jump in and offer many well-meaning advice. The term ‘Old wives’ tales’ in the West and ‘Elder’s wisdom’ are sometimes too restricting to a woman and her independence to raise her child. You might be wondering if they are just myths or hold some truth. We will explore some of these myths about nutrition during pregnancy, what not to eat, taking supplements, and expected behaviours.1, 2, 4

Myth 1: Mothers can’t use beauty products

One of these is not allowing mothers to use beauty products like dying hair and not allowing shampooing. It may come from the fear that the chemicals in those products may bring some harm to the child. So as long as the dye or beauty products are not ingested by the mother or the child, beauty products are fine. They actually provide a confidence boost and feeling of freshness.1, 2, 4

Myth 2: Your favorite food will become your child’s favorite too

You might have been told that a certain food is your favorite because either your grandparent or mother ate it while pregnant. Taste palates are developed over time with life experiences, so this myth is not true. The food itself will not affect their palate, but the nutrients will. When choices are nutrient dense and high quality, your child will have a good head start in life, whilst remaining healthy yourself. For allergies, unless you are allergic to it yourself, there is no fear of making your child allergic to what you eat.1, 2, 4

Myth 3: Pregnant women shouldn’t eat processed foods

Food worries are more for fear of harm to the child than the mother at times. The disallowing of processed foods stems from the fact of additives and preservatives. This stems from restricting the consumption of cheese, smoked fish, sweets, and canned food. As with all food, so long as they are sanitarily (ie. to prevent listeria, a foodborne illness from unsanitary food) handled and cooked to appropriate temperatures, they are safe to eat. If you are also not eating processed foods more than the recommended amount, it is also fine. Cutting too many things out can restrict diet and deprive you of nutrients.2, 4

Many cultures have different myths and costumes expected of pregnant or breastfeeding mothers. When it comes to nutrition, it is always best to choose fresh foods that are dense in nutrients that will support the mother and especially the child. Of the advice given, in modern day, many women are encouraged to take nutritional supplements to top off when food alone is not enough. When making a choice, remember to choose ones which have been scientifically studied and formulated specifically for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers. For example, Similac MUM, is one of the most complete maternal milk with 27 essential vitamins and minerals like Vitamin E and Lutein to support the child’s brain development. The low-fat formula makes it suitable for mothers looking to control their weight.3, 4

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  4. Huynh DTT et al. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2017 May 7: 1-9 –