Pregnant women can be given all sorts of strange advice when friends and family find out they are expecting a child.
While it is often well-meaning, however, in many cases, these tips have little scientific basis. Here we look at three of the most persistent myths.
Eating for two
Disappointingly, it doesn’t take many extra calories to feed a growing foetus. Even in the third trimester, on top of the usual daily recommendation of 2,000 calories, women only need an extra 200 calories a day. That’s the equivalent of a bagel or a heaped tablespoon of mayonnaise, so hardly a feast.
Women can even follow a diet plan without harming their babies. In fact, healthy diets not aimed at weight loss have been found to bring benefits for the mother and the baby. A meta-analysis of 44 randomised controlled trials, where the data from more than 7,000 women was taken, combined and re-analysed, found that those who were given a diet plan to follow gained on average 3.84kg (8.4lbs) less by the end of their pregnancy than women in control groups.
In these studies, some women were given a conventional balanced diet, others a low glycaemic diet. This made no difference to the weight of their babies at birth, but crucially, reduced the risk of pre-eclampsia, a blood pressure disorder that is one of the most common complications of pregnancy.
Period pains disappear
Spending a day a month clutching a water bottle to your abdomen will be a thing of the past once you’ve had a baby – or that’s what we’re told. The amount of pain, if any, that women get during their period varies a lot between individuals, with a lucky half of the female population rarely or never experiencing period pain. For those that do, it’s reassuring to think that once they’ve had a baby there will be no more pain, but it might not be as simple as that.