Pregnancy is that special time in a woman's life, when she gets special attention from everyone. Even strangers on the road sometimes stop to enquire, "Which month?"

To add to that, we Indians have a special penchant for both speculation and superstition. "Hmmm, your tummy has not gotten that large, so...", "Your face is glowing, you will definitely have a..." -- the list of myths is endless.

Myth no 1: The shape and size of your belly can indicate your baby's gender.

Expert opinion: It is believed that a woman carrying a boy has a low belly, while a woman carrying a girl has a high belly. Some also say that women with small, round bellies are carrying a boy, while those with large bellies are carrying a girl. Gynaecologists on the other hand, say that the shape of your belly is determined by the original shape of your abdomen, the amount and distribution of the fat, the strength of the abdominal muscles, the number of babies conceived, the presentation and the position of the baby. In India, it is not legal to determine the sex of your baby beforehand. Hence, myths like these get a lot of attention

Myth no 2: The glow on your face indicates the sex of your baby.

Expert opinion: "Some believe a glow on the face indicates you will deliver a baby girl, while a lack of any glow indicates you will deliver a boy. Most pregnant women start sporting a glowing face during the second trimester. That's when the morning sickness ends, the mother-to-be eats well, blood circulation improves and there is a general feeling of well being. It has nothing to do with the sex of the baby," .

Myth no 3: Heartburn indicates that your baby will have lots of hair.

Expert opinion: Heartburn is a common pregnancy complaint. It is mainly because of reflux oesophagitis, during which the contents (food particles) of the stomach come back up the food-pipe. Due to the acidic nature of the content, it causes burning, which is commonly known as heartburn. A lot of women who deliver babies with thick hair experience practically no heartburn.

Myth no 4: When you're pregnant, you have to double your food intake, because you're eating for two.

Expert opinion: Doctors say, "During pregnancy dietary demands definitely increase. The nutritional status of the mother is most important, however, as the baby is dependent on her for its supply of proteins, vitamins, and minerals. This does not mean that a pregnant woman should eat for two."

They suggest that a pregnant woman maintain a well-balanced, nutritious diet throughout her pregnancy. "She should eat small meals every two hours rather than two or three bulky portions a day. Eating in excess will only lead to increases in fat deposits," she says.

Myth no 5: Food cravings indicate that you are deficient in the nutrients that the specific food offers.

Expert opinion: "Food cravings are food cravings. They do not indicate anything," says Doctor. "Do not take cravings as an indicator that you are deficient in any nutrient. Your doctor will have more solid methods of finding nutritional deficiencies. "

Myth no 6: Sex during pregnancy induces labour.

Expert opinion: Many women swear by this theory. Check any pregnancy website, and there are women who openly advocate it. Of course, there are those who say it didn't work for them also. This is not to say do not have sex. If you are physically fit throughout your pregnancy, there is no reason why you should stop. Doctors merely ask couples to be careful about the position they adopt so that it does not cause discomfort to the mother.

Myth no 7: Methods of delivery are hereditary.

Expert opinion: People believe that if a pregnant woman's mother had a Caesarian section, she is likely to have the same. So, if your family has a history of normal deliveries, you are lucky. Doctors say, "Mode of delivery has nothing to do with heredity. It depends on the number of babies conceived, presentation, as well as the position of the baby, the mother's pelvic bone structure and conditions, if any, complicating the pregnancy. Doctors make every effort possible for a normal delivery. Cesarean sections are only performed when absolutely necessary."

Myth no 8: You can't get pregnant as long as you are regularly breastfeeding your baby.

Expert opinion: Tell this to thousands of women who are now with their second child, while the older one is hardly a year of age, or less! Doctors advise, "Always use some contraception to avoid an unwanted pregnancy. Breastfeeding is reliable only upto a certain period, about one-and-a-half months after the delivery. However, a woman can get pregnant even without getting the first menstrual cycle post-delivery, ie in lactational amenorrhea. There are many simple methods available for contraception. Choose the right one for yourself."

Myth no 9: Eating lots of ghee ensures you will have a normal and safe delivery.

Expert opinion: Your mother or mother-in-law probably says, "Ghee provides lubrication, therefore you must have lots of ghee to ensure a normal delivery."

While the medicinal value of ghee cannot be discounted, it is definitely not the elixir it is touted to be in this case. "No one can a predict normal delivery, not even doctors. Eating a lot of ghee does not ensure normal delivery. A pregnant woman should eat a normal healthy diet, do some form of exercise to keep herself fit and healthy, and should have a positive mindset while going in for the delivery. Even relatives should boost her confidence, and not pressurise her with regard to a normal delivery."

doctors also add that Cesarean sections are not something to shy away from. They are only performed to save the life of the baby, and avoid health complications in the mother.

Myth no 10: Avoid using a computer while pregnant; it can harm your baby's development.

Expert opinion: "There is no evidence indicating that computers harm your baby's development. Of course, if you are working and are likely to use the computer for eight to 10 hours a day, you may face problems like backache. But that has no effect on your pregnancy!"

At-Home Tests Pregnancy Beliefs

· Here's a test that you can do next time you change or get out of the bath. Look in the mirror at your breasts. If the right one is larger, you're having a boy! A larger left breast indicates a girl (if they're the same size, does that mean you're having one of each?).

· Hold a pendant over your hand. If the necklace swings back and forth, you're having a boy. If it is more of a circular motion, then it's a girl. This can also be done by suspending a ring on a string above your belly.

· Do you have acne? Some believe that getting acne during your pregnancy indicates you're carrying a girl. Maybe the acne is caused by twice the amount of female hormones?

· Pick up a key. If you've picked it up by the thinner end, you're having a girl. Picking it up by the bottom, rounder part means a boy is on the way. Did you pick it up by the middle? Then congratulations! You're having twins!

· Ask yourself what you think you're having. In a study that asked women with no previous knowledge about their baby's sex, the moms-to-be correctly guessed the sex of their baby 71% of the time.

· If you hold your arms above your head, your baby's umbilical cord will get wrapped around its head and choke it. This myth may have a spiritual basis or it may have been a way to keep women from doing anything when they were pregnant (perhaps the myth was created by an overworked mother?). However, if your baby gets caught up in its umbilical cord (which happens in about a 1/3 of births) it is because your baby was very fidgety inside of you and moved around a lot, not because of you.

1. Pregnant women crave pickles and ice cream.

False. Not all women crave pickles and ice cream, but food cravings such as these are based in fact. In general, food cravings can be very helpful in telling you what your body needs.

Explanation: Women who crave pickles are really craving salt and may be mineral deficient, and specifically sodium deficient. Additional minerals are particularly important in pregnancy when women's bodies increase blood volume by up to 20 percent, so the existing minerals are diluted.

Many women crave junk foods such as ice cream during pregnancy because junk food is associated with comfort. Sugars found in sweet foods, as well as in breads, pasta and rice cause the body to produce serotonin, which makes women feel good.

2. Pregnant women shouldn't take baths.

False. Pregnant women shouldn't take HOT baths.

Explanation: Women are told not to take baths because HOT water — over 98 degrees — is unfavorable to the pregnancy. Taking a warm (NOT HOT!) bath with someone to help you get in and out of the bath safely can help:

* Decrease uncomfortable swelling in arms and legs.
* Increase the amniotic fluid.
* Prevent premature contractions.

Help the mother relax and alleviate anxiety about the health of her baby.

This is also why swimming is such a great pregnancy exercise.

3. Pregnant women shouldn't eat fish.

False. Although women are told not to eat fish due to mercury levels and fears of food poisoning, (a) women can choose fresh fish with low mercury levels and (b) fish oil has many benefits to the baby. After all, women in Japan don't stop eating sushi!

Explanation: Mercury and food poisoning are significant concerns. Women are individuals and every pregnancy is unique. Small white fish have lower mercury levels because they have been living in the ocean for a shorter period of time. Get fresh fish and smell it. A woman's sense of smell is heightened during pregnancy for a reason — the pregnant woman's body is helping her determine what is healthy for her baby.

Moreover, fish oil contains helpful Omega 3 fats, which actually enhance the development of the baby's brain, improve the baby's IQ, make the baby a better sleeper after birth, prevent premature contractions and premature labor, prevent high blood pressure during pregnancy, and act as an anti-inflammatory that prevent infection. If a pregnant woman is uncomfortable eating fish, she can visit her local health food store for fish oil supplements.

4. Pregnant women shouldn't change cat litter.

True. Due to a virus in cat feces called Toxoplasmosis.

Explanation: This virus can be very harmful to the pregnancy. But recognize that contact with kitty litter is not limited to changing the cat litter box. Since a cat walks on its litter, the virus can be tracked anywhere a cat walks, including its paws. Due to this, all contact with the cat must be limited and the house must be kept extra clean. Also, because much of our produce is grown outdoors where cats and other animals come in contact with it — even if it's organic — recognize that this virus may be present on fruits and vegetables.

5. Pregnant women shouldn't dye their hair.
False. Sort of. Pregnant women should avoid anything chemicalized — from food to hair dye.

Explanation: Just like with the foods they eat, pregnant women should try to expose their bodies to as few artificial products as possible. Hair dyes are no exception. Of course, that means redheads can use natural hennas.

6. Pregnant women should not carry heavy items.

True. Nothing more than 25 pounds.

Explanation: The pregnant body is already burdened by additional weight, which throws off a woman's balance and makes her more likely to fall. This and other things that cause a diminished sense of balance in pregnant women should be avoided, as a fall after the first trimester may be devastating to the pregnancy — always requiring immediate medical attention.

7. All pregnant women have morning sickness.

False. Women and their pregnancy hormone levels are individual.

Explanation: The feeling of morning sickness is often caused by a rise in the female hormone estrogen during pregnancy. If the pregnant woman's body already produced a high level of estrogen prior to her pregnancy, additional estrogen may cause morning sickness in the first trimester — or not. It really depends on the individual.

8. Pregnant women shouldn't drink alcohol.

True. Alcohol is 'feto-toxic,' which means it is poisonous to the growing baby.

Explanation: Just one drink a day can create a noticeable problem in the pregnancy. If someone told you that one pill of a certain drug is damaging to your baby, would you take half that pill or even one quarter?

9. Men cannot REALLY be a part of the pregnancy.

False. Making your life partner into your pregnancy partner can make a big difference in how much you enjoy your pregnancy.

Explanation: Pregnancy can be the most wonderful opportunity to bring a couple together as a solid team. When men are given the means to assist, pregnancy can make the relationship between that man and his pregnant partner exceptionally strong — strength a couple will need when baby arrives!

Toxoplasma gondii is a serious zoonotic parasite that can cause serious problems in unborn children and babies. Congenital infection occurs when tachyzoites are transmitted across the placenta from mother to child. This can cause severe problems, including: heart problems, hydrocephalus, retinochoroditis, and hepatosplenomegaly. 30 % to 40 % of adults in the U.S. have been exposed to Toxoplasma. Humans infected early in life may have recrudescent infections, which can lead to serious disease in immunosuppressed individuals. Acute infection may cause fever, enlarged lymph nodes, flu-like symptoms, and muscle aches and pains. Acute infections are usually acquired from ingestion of infected meat or from ingestion of oocysts.

Congenital toxoplasmosis is a special form in which an unborn child is infected via the placenta. This is the reason that pregnant women should be checked for Toxoplasma antibodies. A positive titer indicates previous exposure and immunity and largely ensures the unborn baby's safety. If a woman receives her first exposure to Toxoplasma while pregnant, the baby is at particular risk. A woman with no previous exposure should avoid handling raw meat, exposure to cat feces, and gardening (cat feces are common in garden soil). Most cats are not actively shedding oocysts and so are not a danger, but the risk may be reduced further by having the litterbox emptied daily (oocysts require longer than a single day to become infective), and by having someone else empty the litterbox.
Treatment is very important for recently infected pregnant women, to prevent infection of the fetus. Since a baby's immune system does not develop fully for the first year of life, and the resilient cysts that form throughout the body are very difficult to eradicate with antiprotozoans, an infection can be very serious in the young.

Risk factors• Infants born to mothers who became infected with Toxoplasma for the first time during or just before pregnancy.

Congenital Rubella Syndrome
Rubella (also known as epidemic roseola, German measles, liberty measles[1] or three-day measles) is a disease caused by the Rubella virus. It is often mild and an attack can pass unnoticed. However, this can make the virus difficult to diagnose. The virus usually enters the body through the nose or throat. The disease can last 1-5 days. Children recover more quickly than adults. Like most viruses living along the respiratory tract, it is passed from person to person by tiny droplets in the air that are breathed out. Rubella can pose a serious risk as it can also be transmitted from a mother to her developing baby through the bloodstream via the placenta. If the mother is infected within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, the child may be born with congenital rubella syndrome, which includes a range of birth defects. The virus has an incubation period of 2 to 3 weeks during which it becomes established.

Congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) can occur in a developing fetus of a pregnant woman who has contracted rubella during her first trimester. Problems rarely occur when rubella is contracted by the mother after 20 weeks of gestation. In 1941 it was discovered by Australian Norman McAllister Gregg (1892-1966). As an allusion to his name, one of the characters in The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side is named Marina Gregg.
CRS can result in serious birth defects such as:
• malformations of the heart (especially patent ductus arteriosus), eyes or brain
• deafness
• spleen, liver or bone marrow problems (some of which may disappear shortly after birth)
• mental retardation
• small head size (microcephaly)
• eye defects
• low birth weight
• thrombocytopenic purpura
• hepatomegaly
Children who have been exposed to rubella in the womb should also be watched closely as they age for any indication of the following:
• developmental delay
• growth retardation
• learning disabilities
• diabetes
• glaucoma

Fifth Disease and Pregnancy
Exposure to fifth disease during pregnancy may cause worry to some women. Here are the facts that you need to know about this common illness when you are pregnant.

What is It?
Fifth disease is a virus caused by the parvovirus B19. Although it can affect any one of any age, children under the age of 15 are most often infected with it. (Read more about fifth disease of children.) Symptoms of fifth disease usually start off as a mild cold. However, a few days after the cold goes away, a rash develops on the face that looks as though a person’s cheeks have been slapped. This rash then spreads to the rest of the body before clearing up within one to three weeks.

Fifth Disease in Pregnant Women
Generally, most pregnant women experience no serious complications if they are exposed to the parvovirus B19. In fact, about half of all women are already immune to the virus (although they may not know it) due to a previous exposure. Those women who do get sick usually experience only mild symptoms with no ill effects on their baby.

For some women, though, parvovirus B19 can lead to severe anemia in the baby and may even cause a miscarriage. The risk of this happening is higher for those women in the early stages of pregnancy. However, this occurs in less than 5% of pregnant women who have been exposed to fifths disease. There is no evidence to support the idea that the virus can lead to birth defects or mental retardation in a child.

I’ve Been Exposed, Now What?
If you suspect or know you’ve been exposed to the virus, contact your health care provider. She can perform a blood test to see whether or not the parvovirus is present in your blood system. If the virus is present, your health care provider may decide to monitor you more closely.

There is no vaccine or preventive medicine available for fifth disease. In fact, there is very little you can do to avoid being infected with the virus other than washing your hands frequently. Since people are contagious before they develop the characteristic rash of fifth disease, it is difficult to evade exposure. However, if you know that there is an outbreak in your work place, you may choose to steer clear until the outbreak has died down. This is entirely a personal choice, though.

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  1. DID Doubles  

    February 20, 2011 at 12:24 PM

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