No meat, no sex, pure thoughts: Govt’s tips to would-be moms for healthy baby

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)

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.

  • 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 effect 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 Swayamseval 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, faced criticism after one of his companies claimed to have concocted a medicine that ensures a male child for couples who can’t conceive.

Dr Ishwara N Acharya, director in-charge of the CCRYN, said the tips were “just a suggestion or an advisory” and not a prescription.

“Non-veg should be avoided during pregnancy. Never wrote sex must be avoided,” he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

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

Experts ridiculed the booklet, released by Union minister Shripad Naik ahead of the International Day for Yoga on June 21.

“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.