Last night I had the pleasure of hanging out with a friend who just announced her pregnancy and we got to talking about all of things you’re “not supposed to do” while pregnant. Of course, someone else at the table hollered “That is all BS! People have been having babies forever and none of this mattered until recently!” We’ve all heard the debates and I thought it was time to confess all of the horrible-terrible things I’ve done while pregnant that haven’t killed me nor affected my growing baby, who is still trending “strong, average, healthy” according to my doctors.
Disclaimer: this is not advice nor permission to do anything differently than your own doctor advises! Only tales of what has worked for me personally.
What I did: I ran regularly up until 5.5 months and wish I could have gone longer!
What my doctor said: My doctor was 100% okay with my running as I’d been doing it already, I was in good shape (oh god, how I miss that!), and it made me happy. Happy mama = happy baby. Just keep a conversational pace and stop if it becomes uncomfortable.
What other people said: Pregnancy sin! You need to be gentle with that growing baby! You don’t want to miscarry!
Verdict: I am so glad I got in as much exercise as I did when I could. It definitely improved my mood, regulated my sleeping and eating habits, and I can’t wait to show our race pictures to MM when he is older!
What I did: I drank 1-2 cups of half caffeinated coffee per day. At home, we mix Peet’s Major Dickenson’s Decaf with full strength grounds to cut the caffeine in half, just in case I want to luxury of drinking two cups.
What my doctor said: You can safely drink 2 cups of coffee or less than 200mg of caffeine daily without worry.
What other people said: Caffeine will cause birth defects and increase your likelihood of miscarriage. Verbatim they said, “Um, excuse me. Are you supposed to be drinking caffeine right now?”
Verdict: With 9 months of experience now, I’ve concluded that I function better with small amounts of coffee. I know exactly what affect it has on my day, and can feel if I’ve had too much. It does absolutely mix into my baby’s amniotic fluid and I am mindful of that most of all. That said, I don’t really want to drink more than a cup of coffee a day anyway. It just hasn’t tasted as good since pregnancy, meh. I’ll continue having my cup of half caf to keep me neutral and will let you know if anything changes.
What I did: Before I found out I was pregnant (at 6 weeks) I drank alcohol on a weekly basis and even got (gasp!) drunk on two occasions. Now, in my third trimester I have a small glass of wine every couple of weeks and take sips of my husband’s beer because it tastes soo good!
What my doctor said: Don’t worry at all about the drinking in your first 6 weeks. It happens to everyone! Stressing out about it is actually worse than the drinking itself. And a glass of wine here and there in your second and third trimesters is just fine.
What other people said: “Oh my gosh! What did your doctor say?!” (about the first 6 weeks) And about the occasional glass of wine: “yeah, I heard that’s not a big deal.”
Verdict: Just like with coffee, I haven’t really wanted to consume alcohol— especially early on. The smell, taste, and often the thought of it was repulsive. But now, every once in a while a small glass of wine feels right. It’s calming, relaxing, and is starting to taste good again. My personal opinion is that Americans are extremists: all or nothing types who tend to need strong rules around what’s allowed and not allowed because they don’t trust themselves. Of course, I err on the side of caution myself. But I’ll still have a glass of champagne if there is a reason to celebrate!
Laying on my back
What I did: I lay on my back, often. In bed, in the bath tub, during massages. Sure, I lay on my side too. But sometimes nothing is as comfy as being flat on your dang back!
What my doctor said: Try to avoid laying on your back for long periods of time. It can cause problems with backaches, breathing, digestive system, low blood pressure and decrease in circulation to your heart and your baby. This is a result of your abdomen resting on your intestines and major blood vessels (the aorta and vena cava).
What other people said: I had no idea you couldn’t sleep on your back!! How does that even work?
Verdict: I don’t go out of my way to lay flat. It is getting less and less comfortable, the bigger I get! But if I wake up and find myself spread eagle, I don’t panic. [knock on wood] nothing problematic has happened to me so far.
Eating junk food
What I did: Oh boy. Y’all know I’m a healthy eater for the most part but if you have to break a diet for the sake of a baby its inevitable that you’re going to over indulge at times. If not now, then when, right? My junk food sins include: eating at In-In-Out Burger 3 times— no, 4 times! Taco Bell once, Carl’s Junior once, a lot of pizza, a lot of cereal (and other processed foods), and over the past several months I’ve eaten 3 entire pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream— yes, to myself. Gah!
What my doctor said: Be careful with the sugar intake. You’re healthy now, but don’t want to develop gestational diabetes or gain so much weight that it affects the baby.
What other people said: It’s going to take you a lot longer to lose that baby weight than put it on. Watch out!
Verdict: I wish I was eating these things guilt-free. But I still feel like crap after eating fast food or too much processed food— physically and emotionally. While I can’t promise I won’t eat at In-In-Out this weekend, I do agree that less is more in the junk food arena, even while pregnant. For me, it’s mostly about not wanting to develop any bad habits now that will be hard to break later on.
What I did: Wear chunky heels or wedges regularly through 6 months pregnant, and sporadically now.
What the doctor said: As long as you’re comfortable and your feet aren’t swelling!
What other people said: Oh, honey! Please take those off. You can’t be comfortable!
Verdict: I would wear heels again, for as long as I can comfortably! When you’re getting bigger/wider, anything that elongates your body feels good! I feel less frumpy and more powerful when I wear heels, and that improves my mood a great deal. These days I mostly opt for flat sandals because I’m afraid of falling or twisting an ankle more than anything. My balance just isn’t there anymore.
Eating soft cheeses
What I did: Ate soft cheese throughout my pregnancy (bleu, brie, cambozola, burrata, you name it).
What the doctor said: Make sure all of the cheese you eat is pasteurized and ensure everything has been properly refrigerated. The risk associated with soft cheese is basically the same as eating unwashed fruits and veggies or deli meat— the possibility of it containing listeria (harmful bacteria that anyone can contract but is especially scary if you’re pregnant for obvious reasons).
What other people said: I heard that moldy cheese can harm your baby.
Verdict: I will continue to eat soft yet pasteurized cheese, soft-serve ice cream, and questionably washed vegetables for that matter. The threat of listeria is no joke, but anything can be harmful really. I won’t sit on pins and needles waiting for something to off me and my offspring. Play it smart, know where your food is coming from and how its been handled. That’s my mantra anyway.
There ya have it. PHEW! What a relief. I feel like I’ve just gone to confessional. What are some of your “pregnancy sins”? Curious to know from some of the older generations what was off-limits when you were pregnant and how big of a deal people made of it. I’ve come to appreciate more progressive books like Expecting Better over the paranoia inducing What to Expect properties. Pregnancy should be a fun and hopeful time for all the smart mamas out there. I’m convinced that anyone mindful enough to get prenatal care is looking out for the best interest of their babies, and themselves and can make their own informed decisions.