I bet a pregnant woman will always hear a few pregnancy myths and facts throughout your pregnancy. In this episode of Ask Me Doctor!, we have Dr. Tan Cheng, an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist from Tung Shin Hospital, Kuala Lumpur, to help you uncover the truths behind 10 common pregnancy myths for a peaceful and happy journey to motherhood. A big bump means you will have a big baby. Dr Tan Cheng: Some will say that when a neat bump sticks out in the front like a netball, then it must be a boy. And if it is more widespread, spread out in the middle, then it is a girl. Image Credit: freepik There are a lot of beliefs from different parts of the world, different cultures and different countries. But these are not really evidence-based claims. Generally, a baby boy weighs more than a girl. Therefore, it is likely to be a baby boy. The bump might be slightly bigger. However, the position of the baby is the main cause of how the shape of the bump turns out to be. So, if the spine of the baby lies alongside the mother\u2019s front, then it will make the belly stick out a little bit more. Otherwise, the belly will be flatter. You will also have to think about the position of the baby inside the womb. It can be the head-down position or it can be in a breech position. And all these will affect the shape of the bump.\u00a0 You cannot really tell for sure whether it is a baby boy or a baby girl by just looking at the shape of the bump itself. Baby\u2019s first kick reveals the gender of the baby. Dr. Tan Cheng: There are a lot of folk tales talking about the first baby kick can determine that it is a boy or a girl. So, most people say that if it is a boy, the baby tends to be more active, and therefore, the first kick is earlier. However, there are a lot of things that actually affect how active the baby is and how much movement the pregnant woman can feel. Most pregnant mothers will feel the baby\u2019s movement around 16 to 20 weeks. This is something known as the quickening. If it is the second pregnancy, it might be even earlier compared to the first one. Even during the second pregnancy, the feeling may also be a little bit different compared to the first pregnancy. If the morning sickness is severe, it means that it is a girl as the female hormones levels are higher.\u00a0 Dr. Tan Cheng: Morning sickness is mainly due to the rising levels of pregnancy hormones rather than the female hormones. It is not possible for you to tell the gender of the baby based on the severity of the morning sickness. The only difference is if you have more than one baby, let\u2019s say, if it is a twin pregnancy, then yes, it is very likely for your morning sickness to be more severe. So then, what are the reliable ways to know the gender of the baby? There are a few ways and in fact, you can determine the gender of the baby as early as 10 weeks onwards: \t Ultrasound Scan We normally perform a detailed ultrasound scan around 20 weeks to look for any structural abnormality. This is also the time for us to determine the gender of the baby. \t Blood Test This blood test is known as noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT). You can do this blood test after 10 weeks of pregnancy. Normally, this blood test is advised for selected patients, in order to screen for genetic diseases, such as down syndrome. It can be done as early as 10 weeks of gestation, which is about 2 and a half months. Through this test, you can also know the gender of the baby. Food During Pregnancy If I crave for spicy foods, it is a girl. Or if I crave for sweet stuff, it is a girl - is that true? Dr. Tan Cheng: If I crave for spicy foods, then it is most likely a girl. Or another belief in other parts of the world suggests that if you crave for sweet stuff, like cupcakes then it is likely a girl. However, there is not enough evidence to suggest any of that. There are a few explanations about why a pregnant mother will crave for a certain type of food. One of the explanations is due to the changes in the hormones during pregnancy. Now, as we know during pregnancy, your estrogen, your progesterone levels, all will rise steadily. So, if you have PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) previously, and you experience cravings during the PMS period, during that time of the month, then most likely you will experience similar cravings during pregnancy as well. There are also other hormonal changes in the body, such as chorionic gonadotropin; there will be changes in serotonin, dopamine, and all of these will affect food cravings. Another explanation is that if you are craving for a certain food, it means that your body is signalling that you may lack certain nutrients. For example, if you are craving for meat, it is most likely that your body is in need of iron. If you are craving salty snacks, you may be in need of sodiums. If you are craving for milk, ice cream, dairy products, then your body may be in need of calcium. Drink more milk or soya milk so that my baby will have fairer skin. Image Credit: freepik Dr. Tan Cheng: Some will say that soya milk can lighten the skin. This is particularly common among the Chinese communities. If we look at the culture in Gujarat, they believe that milk is too cold and should be avoided during pregnancy. You can see there are a lot of different beliefs in different parts of the world. So, there is no evidence saying that milk can lighten the skin colour. However, milk does contain a high quantity of calcium and therefore, it is recommended to drink during pregnancy. This is also the reason why there are so many varieties of different antenatal milk powders available in the market. If you eat too much crabs or squids, your baby will develop a \u201cI want to touch everything\u201d habit. Dr. Tan Cheng: For this saying,\u00a0 I hear a lot coming from the Malay communities. In fact, there is a similar belief in the Chinese communities as well, that if you have crabs during pregnancy, your baby will be more mischievous and sometimes will have more than 10 fingers. There are some other cultures that actually say that if you eat crabs during pregnancy, your child will grow up to be a thief. So, you can see there are a lot of different beliefs in different cultures. The main concern of having seafood during pregnancy is being exposed to mercury contamination. So there are a few types of seafood that we do know that may contain high levels of mercury and are best to be avoided during pregnancy: \tsharks \tswordfish \tking mackerel \ttilefishes So, other seafood that are known to be low in mercury and safe to be consumed during pregnancy include shrimps, prawns, salmons, canned tuna, pollocks, and catfish. But generally speaking, if you consume everything in moderation, it should not cause any harm to the baby. Interestingly, there is a research that says Malaysians eat more fish than the Japanese. And that leads to the next question. Can I eat sushi or sashimi during pregnancy? Dr. Tan Cheng: Generally, we do not advise consumption of any raw food during pregnancy. Raw food has the possibility to give you salmonella infections. And this infection is caused by a bacterium known as salmonella. It is normally found in raw or partially cooked food, such as raw or partially cooked eggs and freshly made mayonnaise, which may contain raw eggs. I do not like to drink milk, can I have cheese instead as my source of calcium? Dr. Tan Cheng: Yes and no. Hard cheese, such as cottage cheese and cheddar are generally safe. If you are looking at ripened cheese like soft cheese for example, brie, blue cheese, these are not safe as they may contain listeria. Now, listeria is a bacterium that may cause infections known as listeriosis. This can also be found in unpasteurised or fresh milk, which we will also encourage mothers not to consume fresh milk, such as fresh goat milk and fresh cow milk during pregnancy. If you want to have milk or cheese, please only consume the UHT or pasteurised milk And for cheese, just the hard cheeses, such as cheddar and processed cheese slices Can I drink coffee during the pregnancy? Image Credit: freepik Dr. Tan Cheng: There are a lot of concerns about caffeine consumption during pregnancy. High level of caffeine intake is associated with low birth weight of the baby. However, there is no need to cut out coffee, tea, or caffeine intake completely. We will advise to limit not more than 200mg per day. So, one may ask how much caffeine content is there in one mug of coffee? One mug of instant coffee is about 100mg. So, you should not have more than two mugs per day. One mug of filter coffee is slightly higher, which is about 140mg caffeine. One mug of tea is about 75mg, so two cups of tea should be fine. Coca-Cola coke contains 40mg of caffeine per can. Energy drinks, such as Redbull contains about 80mg per can. You may be surprised to find out that chocolate also contains caffeine as well. So, one bar of plain chocolate contains about 50mg of caffeine. What supplements can I take during pregnancy? Dr. Tan Cheng: Yes, there are many antenatal supplements; pills for pregnant mothers outside the market. So, what we will advise is to have a look at the content. Turn the packaging around and look at the content of the supplements. There are supplements that are crucial during pregnancies namely Vitamin D, calcium and folic acid. During the early stage of pregnancy, you will need iron tablets. \t Vitamin D Vitamin D comes in a few different forms. Vitamin D3 is a more potent form of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for the body to absorb calcium. Low levels of Vitamin Ds are associated with pre-eclampsia, which is a condition associated with high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine. It is also associated with diabetes, smaller babies and also, preterm birth. For Vitamin D, we will recommend 400 International Unit (400IU) per day during pregnancy. If your pregnancy is high-risk, we then recommend 800IU per day. \t Folic acid It is important for the development of the baby's brains and spinal cord. The normal supplement in the market usually contains 5mg per tablet, and it is more than enough for your daily requirement. We normally encourage mothers to take at least 400mcg, which is 0.4mg of folic acid per day. \t Calcium It is important for the formation of healthy bones and teeth. So, if you look around for supplements in the market, you can find all sorts of different preparations of calcium, such as calcium carbonate and calcium lactate. One thing to remember about calcium is that it may interfere with the absorptions of other supplements, such as iron. And therefore, it is advisable to take calcium and other supplements separately. So, perhaps if you take calcium in the morning, then you can take iron tablets in the evening. Calcium may also be found in milk and cheese. Therefore, if you consume a high level of dairy products, then your calcium absorptions should be more than enough. We do recommend calcium intake of 1,000mg per day. \t Iron Iron is crucial in the formation of red blood cells. During pregnancy, we recommend the intake of 30mg of iron per day. If you have anaemia, you may require a much higher dose than this. If you look around the market, there are a lot of different antenatal supplements and iron that come in different preparations of formula. They may be in the form of ferrous sulphate and ferrous fumarate. They may come in the form of tablets, it may come in the form of liquid. Now, some mothers may experience nausea, vomiting, constipation after taking iron supplements. Therefore, it is crucial for you to find the right formula, the right preparation for you. Omega 3 is the Best for Baby Dr. Tan Cheng: Omega 3, DHA and EPA are good for baby especially if you want a smart baby. There is a lot being said right now about the consumption of Omega 3 improving the brain function of the baby. The baby will be more clever. There is evidence that suggests it may help with the development of the baby\u2019s brain and eyes. However, the evidence for this is not as solid as compared to other supplements, such as calcium and iron. The recommended dosage also differs, depending on which guidelines you are reading. Some guidelines advise that you only require 110mg per day. Some may recommend going as high as 300mg per day. Now, this fish oil, this Omega 3 can be found in the majority of the antenatal supplements in the market right now. Image Credit: freepik What you eat during pregnancy is important for your health, as well as the health of your baby. One final reminder for pregnant mothers regarding food during pregnancy is that you should always consume a clean-cooked meal and consume everything in moderation. Do not have one particular food item in excess. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/watch?vt2zbI_k51_Q&featureyoutu.be So these are some of the most common pregnancy myths that you have heard. We hope it clarifies your inquiries and concerns. For more information on pregnancy and your health, stay tuned with our Ask Me Doctor! series at Motherhood Story.