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Experts debunk pregnancy and baby care myths

A pregnant woman’s tummy shape can determine the gender of the baby, an expectant mother cannot eat sushi and sashimi, a stranger’s saliva pressed onto the forehead or stomach of the baby can “cure” the latter’s sudden mysterious illness. 

Experts debunk pregnancy and baby care myths
FACT OR FICTION. The Filipino culture is replete with myths and superstitions about pregnancy and baby care, but experts strongly advise to veer towards science to ensure the mother and the baby’s well-being.
These are just some of the many superstitions several generations of Filipinos have told pregnant women and new mothers about taking care of themselves and their newborn. But obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Sybil Bravo and pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Co set the record straight.

MYTH – Pregnant women are not allowed to exercise

Celebrity mom Iya Villania-Arellano is one of the examples of this being not true. 

According to Dr. Bravo, pregnant women can do certain exercises to avoid blood clots, such as 30 minutes per day or three times a week of light swimming, brisk walking, stationary cycling, dancing, and low-impact aerobics. Exercising can also help improve posture and lessen back pains and tiredness, but the OB-GYN advises seeking doctor’s advice before engaging in any physical activities.

Experts debunk pregnancy and baby care myths
An obstetrician-gynecologist says low-impact aerobics can help avoid blood clots as well as improve posture and lessen back pains.
FACT – Expectant moms can use skin care and beauty products but not all

Dr. Bravo clarifies that while pregnant women can still do their regular skin care and makeup routine, products that contain retinoid, vitamin A derivatives, and salicylic acid should be avoided as they can cause harm to the baby. Hair color should also be avoided. 

Experts debunk pregnancy and baby care myths
According to an expert, pregnant women can still eat raw food so long as they are thoroughly cleaned, and apply makeup and skincare products except those with ingredients that can cause harm to the baby.  
MYTH – Pregnant women should not eat raw food

Women who love to eat sushi and sashimi are strongly advised to avoid their favorites once they get pregnant, but Dr. Bravo says they can still eat raw food such as the aforementioned so long as they are thoroughly cleaned. 

Likewise, vegetables like malunggay (which can aid in the production of breast milk) should be thoroughly cleaned before consumption. She also dismissed the belief that the food a pregnant woman eats has a certain effect on the baby in her womb, like eating twin bananas will result in twin babies. “Twins are mostly associated with genes,” points out Dr. Bravo.

A pregnant woman’s tummy shape can determine the gender of the baby, an expectant mother cannot eat sushi and sashimi, a stranger’s saliva pressed onto the forehead or stomach of the baby can “cure” the latter’s sudden mysterious illness. 

Dr. Bravo maintains that a woman’s tummy shape, skin condition, and glow and aura do not accurately determine the gender of the baby in the womb. The best way to determine the baby’s gender is to have an ultrasound.

FACT – Pregnant women can get vaccinated

Pregnant women need not be afraid of vaccination as Dr. Bravo says getting vaccinated with the suitable vaccine increases the body’s natural defenses to protect both the mom and the baby against diseases—especially since pregnant women, the OB-GYN says, are considered a vulnerable group.

“Sa pagbabakuna ng mga buntis, ang kanilang baby ay mabibigyan din ng protection laban sa mga infections dahil nagkakaroon ng placental transfer ang maternal antibodies from maternal immunization (When you vaccinate pregnant women, their babies also receive protection against infections because of placental transfer of maternal antibodies),” says Dr. Bravo. 

Vaccines like hepatitis A and B vaccines, flu shot, tetanus toxoid, tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis, and anti-pneumonia are safe for pregnant women, but they should always consult their doctor before getting vaccinated. Vaccination, according to pediatrician and pharmacology expert Dr. Co, is also necessary for babies.

MYTH – Feeding babies with eggs will induce measles

Dr. Co asserts that exanthematous rashes appear on skin because of viral infections, and allergy to eggs has no relation to them. “When your baby has viral rashes, always seek medical help and ask about vaccination against measles. Avoid self-diagnosing and self-medicating,” he says.

MYTH – Bathing babies with coriander helps heal chicken pox faster

An old wives’ tale that Dr. Co says has no scientific basis as this herb does not have anti-viral and antipruritic properties to counter the effects of chicken pox, a viral infection. “We don’t need anything else to irritate the skin,” emphasizes the pediatrician, as he says coriander may worsen the condition.

MYTH – You cannot feed a child when they are experiencing diarrhea

According to Dr. Co, a child should be fed and rehydrated during bouts of diarrhea and/or vomiting. Small, frequent feeding of a simple diet and lots of water and child-safe rehydration solutions are recommended. 

“Probiotics help a lot in most viral enteritis infections. Several studies have shown that prebiotics and probiotics shorten the period of diarrhea and patients quickly recover. [Usually], diarrhea and vomiting are self-limited, and patients will recover quickly.” Mothers are also advised to visit their child’s pediatrician during these episodes to determine the cause of the diarrhea.

MYTH – Asking a person to lick their thumb and press it onto baby’s forehead or stomach will cure a sudden mysterious illness or ‘usog’

Dr. Co debunks this popular superstition that many adults still believe today, emphasizing that the mouth is considered the dirtiest part of the human body, and a stranger’s saliva “will not do any magic.” 

“Getting sick is part of the child’s response to everything they are exposed to in their environment. Saliva has no medical purpose in life except to lubricate the food we eat so that it is more easily digestible,” he adds.

Topics: pregnant woman , Sybil Bravo , Benjamin Co , myths , pregnancy
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