The Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy, or Ayush Ministry, refuted reports that it’s booklet “Mother and Child Care” had advised women against having sex during their pregnancy. The ministry said the words “no sex” do not feature in its document. The ministry said the booklet has been in circulation for four years.

“This publication has been in distribution through the units of the erstwhile Department of AYUSH and Central Council for Research in Yoga & Naturopathy since 2013. The report that it was released by the Minister of State for AYUSH in the recent past is incorrect,” the statement said.

On June 13, Hindustan Times reported that the ministry issued-booklet asked pregnant women to stop eating meat and having sex. Instead, the ministry urged mothers-to-be to nurture spiritual thoughts and hang beautiful pictures in their rooms for a healthy baby.

The report said the document suggested that pregnant women avoid harbouring feelings like desire and anger, and to steer clear of “bad company”. Minister of State for Ayush, Shripad Naik was not available for comments.

Medical practitioners pointed out that the recommendations are 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,” Gynaecologist and Obstetrician Dr Malavika Sabharwal told Hindustan Times.

Another doctor, Suneeta Mittal, further clarified that a woman needs to be cautious during the first trimester. “Caution is advised during the first trimester when the placenta is low-lying and for complicated pregnancies, where there is a miscarriage risk,” she told Hindustan Times.