Over the years, a lot of common myths about what pregnant mothers should or should not eat have been debunked. Many of the things that society used to think were not okay for pregnant women have since been proven to be harmless old wives’ tales. Thanks to the ever-evolving scientific understanding of the pregnant woman’s body, we now know many of the old thoughts on pregnancy diets to simply be urban legends. Here are a few common misconceptions and myths about pregnancy diets.
1. You Should Eat Much More Than Usual
Many people think that pregnant women should eat, eat, eat. That’s simply not true. You will need to eat more than you usually would, but probably not until the second trimester. Your body becomes much more efficient during pregnancy, meaning that it absorbs more of the nutrients from the food you eat. You won’t need to eat any additional calories during your first trimester, and you’ll only need to add about 300 extra calories per day during the second trimester and just 450 extra during the third trimester.
Focus on quality rather than quantity: you want your diet to promote health and wellness for both you and your baby. Make sure you eat plenty of nutrition-dense foods containing omega-3 fatty acids, iron, calcium, and plenty of vitamins. Avoid soft cheeses or unpasteurized milk, which could contain harmful bacteria that are bad for babies.
2. You Shouldn't Eat Fish
Like all the most convincing myths, this one is grounded in some truth. The higher up on the food chain fish is, the more mercury it contains: swordfish, mackerel, and shark contain very large amounts of mercury, so much so that they’re not very healthy for you, let alone your baby. But smaller fish containing lower levels of mercury are not only safer, but they’re very helpful to your child. You need a certain amount of omega-3 acids to help your baby develop in the womb, and fish is an excellent source of omega-3s and lean protein. Experts say you should eat at least 12 ounces of fish a week when pregnant.
3. You Have to Eat Meat
It’s a common misconception that you have to give up vegetarianism when you’re pregnant. This isn’t the case. You may have to adjust your diet a little bit to get extra amounts of protein, iron, and calcium (especially if you’re vegan), but it is very much doable. Hearty greens like kale and spinach, along with bran, give you plenty of necessary iron and calcium. Oatmeal, beans, and dried fruit are food items to stock up on as well, if you don’t eat meat. Soy products like tofu, edamame, and soy milk help you get your share of protein. If you don’t want to eat meat during your pregnancy, you simply don’t have to, as long as you’re attentive to getting your nutrients elsewhere.
These are the three biggest myths surrounding the diets of pregnant women. For the most part, a healthy pregnant diet is no different than a healthy regular diet. Be aware of these myths and you’ll have a healthy pregnancy without stressing out over what you eat. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns or questions about what you should and shouldn’t be eating during pregnancy.
Freelance blogger Elsa Kendrick writes primarily about health care and the changing face of medicine in the 21st century. She is currently researching Preeclampsia Pregnancy and learning more about the specialized services needed for fetal care.
All articles on the blog and website are intended as information only. Please do not consider any of the information provided here as a substitute for medical advice. At all times seek medical advice directly with your own doctor and medical team.