Raspberry leaf tea and curries 'don't bring on labour'
MOTHERS-TO-BE "mistakenly" believe that eating a curry can bring on labour, according to a poll.
Almost one in five women think wolfing down spicy food will help induce labour, while 38 per cent believe raspberry leaf tea is the answer, according to a survey of more than 1,200 women.
Other "old wives' tales" frequently thought to be true include not being able to start exercising during pregnancy and that sleeping on your back can harm the unborn baby.
However, some experts disputed the claim by pregnancy advice charity Tommy's that women were wrong in their beliefs.
Tommy's midwife Sharon Broad said: "This research continues to highlight the many different stories and myths on pregnancy.
"Eating curries or drinking raspberry leaf tea will not, unfortunately, induce labour. There is no evidence to support this. I still speak to many women, however, who continue to eat spicy food and take raspberry leaf tea in late pregnancy hoping that either will bring on labour."
One in five women questioned believed you could harm a baby by lying on your front and 30 per cent were unsure of the safest way to cook eggs.
Almost half were not sure how much coffee it was safe to drink, while one in five was unsure if it is safe to eat pat, the study showed.
The research revealed that 13 per cent of women believed that when carrying a boy, the baby shape was likely to be all at the fronty.
And it showed 39 per cent believed it was unwise to start an exercise programme while pregnant.
Six out of ten women were unsure what types of cheese they could eat, 56 per cent did not know what kind of fish they could have and 50 per cent were unsure about eating mayonnaise.
Ms Broad added: "This research continues to highlight the many different stories and myths on pregnancy.
"For example, pregnancy can be an excellent reason to start exercising."
However, Eleanor Hay Johnson, membership secretary of Independent Midwives UK,
said in her experience both raspberry leaf tea and eating strong curries could be useful to some women and should not be dismissed as unscientific.
She said: "I don't believe raspberry leaf tea will put you into labour – but it is not prescribed for that – it is prescribed to tone your uterus so that it works better in labour.
"My grandmother took it. As a remedy it has been around for a long time and if something has been around for a long time there is a reason for it."
"I think there is a danger in saying if something has not been proved by science, it doesn't exist.
"I think there is a problem with poo-pooing women's knowledge and saying that unless something has been proved scientifically then it is not true.
"There are things that are passed down through generations of women that may still be valid."
What's right for you is the key to a confident pregnancy
IT IS important to remember that different women have different needs in pregnancy. Every woman is unique and everyone has a different experience of pregnancy and childbirth.
Community midwives and antenatal classes are the best place to find out about things like which foods to avoid and other hazards during pregnancy. But if you have any health concerns or questions, then you should speak to a midwife or your GP about it.
Advice on things like exercise is different for each individual woman. If someone has exercised a lot they will be able to do more in pregnancy.
Whether to take something like raspberry leaf tea depends very much on the individual – some people find it useful – but it is true that not a lot of research has been done to support it.
There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that eating curry can stimulate the bowel, and some women swear it has helped to bring on labour – but we can't really be sure.
The whole issue of pregnancy and birth is very different for every individual – so it is actually very difficult to say which things work and which things don't.
I think being relaxed in pregnancy is very important in terms of your health and wellbeing.
Having the right kind of information about pregnancy allows you to feel confident and to trust your body and trust the process. That is incredibly important.
• Jenny Patterson is an independent midwife from Edinburgh.
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