No meat, no sex, pure thoughts: Modi’s Ayush ministry gives tips to would-be moms for healthy baby

Updated on Jun 14, 2017 06:55 AM IST
The recommendations are part of a booklet called Mother and Child Care released by India’s minister of state for Ayush Shripad Naik in the run-up to International Day for Yoga on June 21.
Gynaecologists have dismissed the advice as unscientific.(Shutterstock image)
Gynaecologists have dismissed the advice as unscientific.(Shutterstock image)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

Don’t eat meat, say no to sex after conception, avoid bad company, have spiritual thoughts and hang some good and beautiful pictures in your room to have a healthy baby.

This is ministry of Ayush’s prescription for pregnant women in India, where 26 million babies are born each year.

The recommendations are part of a booklet called Mother and Child Care, compiled by the government-funded Central Council for Research in Yoga and Naturopathy (CCRYN) under the Ayush ministry, formed in 2014 to promote Indian traditional healing practices.

Pregnant women must

Stay away from desire, anger, attachment, hatred and lust.

Avoid bad company

Be with good people in stable and peaceful conditions only

Hang some good and beautiful pictures in the bedroom, which will affect the child also.

Self study, have spiritual thoughts

Read the life stories of great personalities

Keep calm (Source: Mother & Child Care Through Yoga and Naturopathy, ministry of Ayush )

Experts and rationalists accuse a section of BJP leaders and Hindu right-wing groups of promoting unscientific theories in healthcare and other areas.

Last month, the Jamnagar-based Garbh Vigyan Anusandhan Kendra – allegedly linked to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) – said couples can conceive the “best progeny” through purification, having sex on auspicious days and abstinence after conception.

Yoga guru Ramdev, known to be close to the ruling BJP, faces criticism after one of his companies claimed to have concocted a medicine that ensure a male child for couples who can’t conceive.

Union minister Shripad Naik, who released the booked recently ahead of the International Day for Yoga on June 21, said it was published three years ago and is a compilation of yoga practices that are believed to help pregnant women.

“The booklet does not contain any advice on abstaining from sex,” the Ayush minister said.

Dr Ishwara N Acharya, director in-charge of the CCRYN, also claimed the booklet does not say that “sex must be avoided”.

However, page 14 of the booklet has a paragraph which says,“Pregnant women should detach themselves from desire, anger, attachment, hatredness and lust…(sic).”

“The advice is unscientific. Protein-deficiency malnutrition and anaemia are health concerns for pregnant women and meats are a great source of both protein and iron, which is better absorbed from animal sources than plant sources,” said senior gynaecologist and obstetrician Malavika Sabharwal of the Apollo Healthcare Group.

As for sex, if the pregnancy is normal, there is no need for abstinence as the baby in the womb is protected by the amniotic fluid and the uterus muscles.

“Caution is advised during the first trimester when the placenta is low-lying and for complicated pregnancies, where there is a miscarriage risk,” said Suneeta Mittal, director of the obstetrics and gynaecology at Fortis Gurgaon.

Some studies show that a mother’s stress, anxiety and depression may affect the baby’s development.

“Pregnant women need to be happy and instead of being prescriptive about what they should think and do to be happy, we must urge them to do things they enjoy and strongly advise the family be to supportive,” Sabharwal added.

Around 44,000 women die of pregnancy-related causes in India each year, official data show. The country’s maternal mortality rate – defined as deaths per 100,000 live births – is 167.

(With agency inputs)

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sanchita is the health & science editor of the Hindustan Times. She has been reporting and writing on public health policy, health and nutrition for close to two decades. She is an International Reporting Project fellow from Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at the Bloomberg School of Public Health and was part of the expert group that drafted the Press Council of India’s media guidelines on health reporting, including reporting on people living with HIV.

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