Chapter 4: Helping women stay healthy
Avoiding foods can be dangerous
In many places, pregnant women are told not to eat certain foods. In these
communities, people believe that these foods will harm the baby. At the same
time, a doctor or a midwife may tell a woman it is important to eat those same
foods. This can be confusing for the woman.
Avoiding foods can be
dangerous. For a woman to
be healthy during and after
pregnancy, she must eat a
wide variety of foods — main
foods, grow foods, glow
foods, and go foods. Eating
only one kind of food is not
Everyone needs to eat a wide variety of foods.
If a woman does choose to
avoid certain foods, make sure
she is getting enough of each
kind of food, and enough
vitamins and minerals from her food.
Finding creative answers
Beliefs about food can be hard to change. But you may find ways to help
women eat better without working against their beliefs. This example is
based on a true story:
Maria is a midwife in Guatemala. She and her
people believe that some foods are “hot” foods, and
some foods are “cold” foods. They believe that
pregnant women should not eat cold foods.
To Maria and her people, beans and eggs are cold
foods (even when they are cooked). But Maria knows
that beans and eggs are good, low-cost ways for
pregnant women to get the protein and iron they need.
Maria wants pregnant women to eat well, but they
will not eat cold foods. And Maria too thinks that cold
foods may not be good for pregnant women to eat. Her solution is simple
and smart. She tells pregnant women to eat beans and eggs with a little hot
pepper or another hot food. This way, the foods will not be cold anymore.
Maria has found a creative answer to a problem. She has found a way for
pregnant women to eat better and has shown respect for the beliefs of her
A Book for Midwives (2010)