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01 August 2022

Dispelling pregnancy myths in Singapore

Written by: 

Dr. Heng Tung Lan, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist

SOG-Heng Clinic for Women

(A member of Singapore O&G Group)

Pregnant mom holding a stethoscope to her belly

Do not worry, mommies-to-be; it is normal for you to feel overloaded with information and advice from well-meaning friends and relatives! However, you might be wondering what is true and what is not. 

We hope to give you some clarity on the popular pregnancy myths out there. So, let us take a look at some of the common myths in Singapore. 

Myth #1: I have to eat for two! 

Pregnant mom holding a bowl of salad

Many mommies-to-be will indulge in eating and snacking on whatever they like. This is especially so during the second trimester, when your appetite is at its best.

Fact: It is true that pregnant women need to increase their calorie intake. However, excessive weight gain will be harder to shed off in the future, and this may jeopardise both your and your baby’s health. It is therefore important to focus on the quality of your diet and aim for a gradual increase throughout your pregnancy.

  • 1st Trimester: No extra calories needed
  • 2nd Trimester: Extra 300 – 400 calories per day is recommended
  • 3rd Trimester: Additional of 450 – 500 calories per day 

Avoid taking food that contains a lot of empty calories, even if it tastes good. Instead, incorporate nutrient-dense foods into your diet. 

Myth #2: It's fine to gain weight during pregnancy. That's the only time I can feel fat without feeling bad! 

Pregnant mom standing on the weighing scale

Fact: There is no recommended fixed weight gain for all pregnant women. The recommended amount of weight gain is different for singleton, twin, and triplet pregnancy. 

If we are looking at a healthy singleton pregnancy, your body mass index (BMI) pre-pregnancy is a key indicator. I personally would recommend my patients to keep their weight gain within 12 kg.

A weight gain of 5 to 9.1 kg is recommended for women with a BMI greater than 30. 

However, you might want to work out a diet plan with your obstetrician if you have other health concerns or ask them what the healthy range of weight that you should be working on. 

*Information adapted from Institute of Medicine Guidelines (IOM2009)

Myth #3: My mum says I shouldn’t be travelling during my pregnancy? 

Pregnant mom on a holiday with her luggage and reading a map

Fact: For mommies-to-be with normal and healthy pregnancies, it is generally safe to travel and fly until 28–32 weeks into your pregnancy. But different airlines may have their own rules or need a note from your doctor, so check before you go!

Flying is not recommended if you are facing pregnancy complications like:

  •  Preeclampsia
  •  Premature rupture of membranes
  •  Preterm labour
  •  Placenta Previa 

In addition, it is important to always check with your obstetrician before flying, even if you are feeling good. 

Here are some tips for flying while you are pregnant: 

  1. If you are planning for a babymoon, plan to travel during your second trimester. This is the period when you are more likely to be over your morning sickness and feeling most energetic. 
  2. Try to avoid long haul flights. I would recommend flights not more than eight hours as you will easily feel uncomfortable. Also, there are higher risks of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). So, do remember to stretch your body and move around whenever you can. 
  3. Stay hydrated throughout the flight, keep up your water intake gradually.
  4.  Always wear the seatbelt low around your pelvis, below your baby bump.

Myth #4: Pregnant women should avoid all types of exercises! 

Pregnant mom doing light exercises

This is definitely a myth.

Fact: If you did not exercise on a regular basis before your pregnancy, you should discuss with your obstetrician whether your health condition allows you to engage in light-to-moderate activities.

It is safe and healthy to stay active during your pregnancy. This is especially so if you have always been active pre-pregnancy, and if your pregnancy has no complications. 

You can continue to exercise as you did before becoming pregnant, or you can do light-to-moderate exercises like walking and swimming.

However, here are some activities to avoid: 

  •  Contact sports like football and basketball
  •  Activities with risk of falling like skiing and rock climbing
  •  High-risk activities such as scuba diving and skydiving

Myth #5: No more coffee and tea for the next nine months!

While excessive caffeine intake has shown an increase in the risk of low birth weight, this does not mean you need to cut caffeine out totally.

Fact: Moderate consumption is safe. I recommend not more than 200mg/day of caffeine, so a cup of your favourite kopi or teh a day is fine.

However, do note that caffeine can also be found in chocolate, energy drinks, and soft drinks like Coke too. 

Replace your caffeine intake with other alternatives like water, honey lemon, decaffeinated tea or coffee, and reduce your sugar intake as much as possible.