Pregnancy is a time of excitement and anticipation for many women in Indonesia. However, it is also a period when myths and misconceptions about pregnancy abound. These myths, often passed down through generations, can lead to unnecessary anxiety and potentially harmful practices. In this article, we will debunk some of the most common pregnancy myths in Indonesia and provide evidence-based information to help expectant mothers make informed choices for a healthy pregnancy.
Myth 1: "Pregnant Women Should Eat for Two"
One prevalent myth is that pregnant women should eat significantly more to nourish both themselves and their growing baby. While it's essential to eat a balanced diet during pregnancy, the idea of "eating for two" can lead to excessive weight gain, which may increase the risk of gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and other complications. The truth is that during the first trimester, there is no need for additional calories. In the second and third trimesters, an extra 300-500 calories per day are sufficient to support fetal growth.
Myth 2: "Avoid Exercise During Pregnancy"
Another common misconception is that exercise during pregnancy can harm the baby. In reality, staying physically active is beneficial for both the mother and the baby. Regular, moderate exercise can help improve mood, reduce back pain, and decrease the risk of excessive weight gain. However, it's crucial to consult with a healthcare provider before starting or continuing any exercise routine during pregnancy to ensure it's safe and appropriate.
Myth 3: "Papaya Causes Miscarriage"
Papaya is often believed to be a "hot" or "abortifacient" food that can cause miscarriage. While unripe papaya contains a substance called latex, which may trigger uterine contractions, ripe papaya is safe to eat in moderation during pregnancy. The levels of latex decrease as the fruit ripens, making it unlikely to harm the baby. However, it's still advisable not to consume excessive amounts of unripe papaya.
Myth 4: "Avoid Fish Completely"
There's a misconception that pregnant women should avoid all types of fish due to concerns about mercury contamination. While it's true that high-mercury fish like shark and king mackerel should be avoided, many fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial for fetal brain and eye development. Safe options include salmon, sardines, and trout. Eating up to two servings of low-mercury fish per week is generally recommended for pregnant women.
Myth 5: "You Can Predict the Baby's Gender by Belly Shape"
Many Indonesians believe that the shape of a pregnant woman's belly can predict the gender of the baby. For example, a round belly is thought to indicate a girl, while a pointed or high belly supposedly signifies a boy. However, the shape of the belly is primarily determined by the mother's body shape, the position of the baby, and the number of previous pregnancies. It has no scientific basis for predicting the baby's gender.
Myth 6: "No Sex During Pregnancy"
There is a common misconception that sexual activity during pregnancy can harm the baby. In most cases, it's perfectly safe for pregnant women to engage in sexual intercourse. However, if there are complications such as placenta previa or a history of preterm labor, a healthcare provider may advise against sex. It's essential for couples to communicate openly with each other and their healthcare provider about any concerns or questions regarding sexual activity during pregnancy.
Myth 7: "Morning Sickness Means It's a Healthy Pregnancy"
Experiencing morning sickness, which includes nausea and vomiting, is often seen as a sign of a healthy pregnancy. While morning sickness can be a positive indicator of hormonal changes, its severity or absence does not necessarily indicate the health of the pregnancy. Some women have healthy pregnancies without experiencing significant morning sickness, while others may have severe symptoms. It's essential to focus on overall prenatal care and regular check-ups to assess the baby's well being.
In Indonesia, as in many other cultures, pregnancy myths are prevalent and can
influence the choices and behaviors of expectant mothers. However, it's crucial to rely
on evidence-based information and consult with healthcare providers to ensure a
healthy and safe pregnancy. Debunking these common myths empowers women to make informed decisions and prioritize their well-being and that of their babies during
this special time.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2020). Nutrition During Pregnancy. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/nutrition-during-pregnancy
- Mayo Clinic. (2021). Exercise during pregnancy: Is it safe? https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/expert-answers/pregnancy-and-exercise/faq-20057969
- American Pregnancy Association. (2021). Pregnancy Nutrition: Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy. https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/foods-to-avoid-during-pregnancy/