Driven Crazy by Pregnancy Perfectionists (Especially On The Web!)

Hi Readers! Let us help this mama-to-be, who is being driven crazy by all the obsessive, micromanaging pregnancy advice she’s getting from all sides, especially her cyber-friends. What I try to remind folks — pregnant and not — is that if humanity required perfect on the part of its parents, there would not BE humanity.

It is only in the last generation or so that mothers-to-be have even known exactly which fingernail was being formed during which second of which trimester. Now that we do know, it’s very hard not to worry about it all, but we really don’t have to. I get so annoyed with the books that dictate what to eat, do, and buy every second from conception to delivery, as if one sub-optimal bite means we’ve ruined the kid, while nine months’ worth of  gold stars means our children will never have a bad hair day or low-paying job or obstructed view.

‘Taint so. Eat pretty well, get some sleep, and hope for the best, pregnant ladies.  It’s really not all up to you, and it’ll make you miserable if you think it is. — Lenore

Dear Lenore: How about a companion website: Free-Range Fetus? Because I had to go through medical intervention to  get pregnant (and had a doctor who provided very little help beyond the obvious), I have spent a great deal of time looking up pregnancy-related information on the internet. There, I have found that many people are obsessed with the ways in which they are endangering their children before they have even developed feet!

I am struggling to separate myself from the culture of fear that permeates every book I read and every website I visit. Why, today alone I have endangered my 15-week-old fetus by taking a warm bath, painting my nails green, eating Parmesan cheese that I’m not SURE was pasteurized, and struggling to install a new cable box (with the box balancing on my abdomen for a moment). And I will probably endanger it further in a few hours by  going to a Step class and allowing my heart rate to climb above 130!

I am terrified… if it starts now, where does it end? Is there any reassurance out there that leaving my bedroom and eating a variety of foods ISN’T going to cause catastrophic birth defects?

Yes! I’m reassuring you and I hope soon the folks who comment below will be doing the same thing! Part of Free-Ranging is accepting the fact that there is only so much control we have over our children’s lives — starting Day One. Sure, we do our best, but we realize that fate plays a hand, too.

Another key Free-Range concept is realizing that the current mania for making everything perfect is just that: a mania. There is no such thing as perfect — except some pregnancy books and “experts” who are perfectly annoying! — L

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168 Responses to Driven Crazy by Pregnancy Perfectionists (Especially On The Web!)

  1. Julie B December 30, 2009 at 12:05 am #

    Here’s the cliffs-notes version of what my doctor told me when I got pregnant the first time: Take your vitamins, don’t drink too much, and stay off the internet. He said that in 30 years of being an OB-GYN, he’d only seen two women who had a food-related illnesses that pregnancy message boards will have you believe are so rampant, and both had gotten listeria poisoning from eating homemade, unpasturized cheese sent from relatives out of the country. Just remember – you’re pregnant, not disabled, and women have been having babies for millenia without all of the paranoia. Relax, ignore the worriers, and enjoy your pregnancy!

  2. somekindofmuffin December 30, 2009 at 12:05 am #

    Ask docotors. An example: A friend of mine was pregnant and her dootor said she could more or less do aerobics classes up until the kid popped out. If all these people giving you advice paid attention they would notice most recommendations are just that-recommendations.

    On another note. I knew a woman who was so careful about what she did and what she ate that she never even chewed gum Result: her kid as a ton of allergies.

    We live in THIS world and need to act like it. Living in a bubble is not the same as being careful. Being active is not the same thing as being careless.

  3. Louise Varre December 30, 2009 at 12:08 am #

    Here is one piece of advice that I wish I was given with my first pregnancy, and the only one I give to my pregnant friends:
    Trust your instincts and yourself!
    It is ok to read up, see what is out there, learn tips and tricks, but you have to sort through it and decide for yourself what works for you. This continues when you have children. Nobody else can tell you what to do but yourself. If you feel confused, sit down and breathe, take a quiet moment to clear your head and try to “feel” what is right for you. Meditation is a great booster for tuning yourself into your own instincts.

  4. N December 30, 2009 at 12:15 am #

    Oh, the things I did while pregnant I wasn’t supposed to do. I love bleu cheese, and I ate it as often as I wanted. Same with brie and any other potentially unpasteurized cheese. I ate cold cuts. I ate whatever kind of fish and shellfish I wanted. I remember I had bronchitis, and I told a friend who said, “Oh, and too bad that you can’t take antibiotics!” Huh? I took antibiotics. Somehow, I think my fever spiking to 104 as it usually does when I get bronchitis would be worse for the fetus than the antibiotics. And my goodness yes I took warm baths. Pregnancy is hard on the joints and a warm bath is great for that. Somehow, both my kids turned out great.

  5. momof2 December 30, 2009 at 12:15 am #

    Knowledge can be a good thing when used wisely. But not when it is used to hold people up to unattainable standards or when it is ignored. I’m finding a little of both from this hopeful mom-in -the-making. Take your bath, eat your cheese – heck, have a glass of wine My ob told me too! Helps you relax. But just one, just once in a while, not every night. Yet, when reading your note I stopped a little short with the medical pregnancy and the step class. Some personal experience with a close friend says not at any cost. Yes, stay fit, but be careful and listen to your body. You might need to go slower or stop for more breaks or not get to hot. (Notice, I didn’t say not to go! I even laid an entire brick walk-way at my house during my first pregnancy, and my child is just fine.) Good luck.

  6. babelbabe December 30, 2009 at 12:17 am #

    I ate sushi through 3 of my 4 pregnancies (way too worried during my first). by the time I got pregnant again, however, I figured millions of Japanese women can’t be wrong.

    Also, before I knew I was even maybe pregnant with number 2, I spent a week on vacation with a friend getting rollicking drunk every night. I was horrified; my OB laughed at me. Guess what? Number 2 is sweet, charming, smart, and perfectly normal and healthy.

    Relax, take your vitamins, and exercise. Try not to live on Coca Cola and chocolate. (However, I lived on French fries since they were the only thing that would stay down for pregnancies 1 and 3).

  7. N December 30, 2009 at 12:19 am #

    Trust yourself. Read up, and know what the possible dangers are, and then weigh them versus your sanity and comfort, and the risk of them actually happening.

    The paranoia drives me NUTS. I’m about 6 weeks out from my due date, and people go CRAZY. But you know what? I’ve had 3 drinks while pregnant (normal, reasonable sized ones of about 3-4 oz, not the stein you get at a restaurant), I eat soft cheese as long as it doesn’t specifically say unpasteurized, I don’t microwave my lunch meat, I don’t use a thermometer on my hot dogs, I drink caffeine occasionally, and I eat runny egg yolks.

    You’d think I was the devil incarnate.

    But you know what? When I need protein and can’t get firm eggs down? I’m going to do what I need to do. I want a ceasar salad from a restaurant? I’m going to use my common sense and realize that they’re probably not serving dressing made with unpasteurized eggs to ANYBODY.

    Much like with kids, and, well, LIFE, yes, there’s danger out there. But you have to weigh the paranoia and decide what’s worth it. We needed help to get pregnant as well, and I spend enough time focusing my worries on getting enough vitamins (I have a genetic issue where I don’t process folic acid properly) and on the blood thinners I’m on that it’s really not worth the time or energy to me to worry about all that other stuff.

    Now, of course, I don’t change the cat litter… but that’s only partially out of pregnancy fear. 😉

  8. hlf December 30, 2009 at 12:23 am #

    i’m in my 26th week with my first baby, and i’ve experienced a little bit of guilt for being totally unobsessive about doing everything ‘right’…i don’t eat enough vegetables, i paint my fingernails from time to time, don’t sleep as much as i should and have a glass of wine when i feel like it…i don’t read to my fetus and i clean out the litter box every once in a while when my man isn’t home…i am delighted to say that everything is progressing just fine (according to my doctors) and i am not going to worry that that day i ate pretty much only pizza is going to haunt my child when he or she is learning the times tables in 3rd grade or whenever kids are ‘supposed’ to learn that stuff now. the most important thing is to be at ease, to refrain from scolding yourself for every little thing or obsessing about doing everything perfectly…enjoy the peace you now have to read some great work of fiction and pass on all the ‘advice’ about how to do pregnancy ‘right’…be you…that’s the best possible thing you can do for your fetus…at least these are all the things i keep telling myself!

  9. Kate Baldwin December 30, 2009 at 12:27 am #

    My husband and I are going to start trying for our first baby this spring. Just this morning I was lamenting that gone are the days when women just got pregnant and kept living their lives, instead of drastically changing the way they do things. This article, and all of the articles I have read on this blog so far, have helped me see through the “mania” that has slowly gripped this country over the last few decades. I’m sure when I get pregnant I’ll abstain from drinking alcohol, but not exercising during pregnancy seems unhealthy and absurd. I think I’ll abstain from the pregnancy books, too.

  10. kawaii December 30, 2009 at 12:31 am #

    I was excavating a hundred year old cemetery when I became pregnant. I kept excavating until I could no longer bend over and reach the bottoms of the graves because my belly was in the way and I had to call someone else over to do it for me. That was my last one. That’s not to say I didn’t take any precautions: I slowed down, I took more frequent breaks, I made sure to carry less weight than I would have carried pre-pregnancy, and I refused to drink the water they were providing us from a fire hydrant via a pipe that was thrown down in the mud at the end of the day. I just had to roll my eyes when my mother in law would practically panic when she saw me pick up something she deemed heavy. She wouldn’t let me hold my infant nephew!

    The food prohibitions I found puzzling. Do French women eat soft cheeses while they are pregnant? Do Japanese women eat raw fish? I think I stuck to most of the American guidelines, but that was only because I didn’t find them prohibitive. There are plenty of cooked items on a sushi menu, and I tend to order those anyway. I do remember eating some pate at a party and wondering if it was on the no-no list and thinking to hell with it, it’s tasty. As an anthropologist, I kept wanting a cross cultural study of pregnancy to read about, as a mom I want one on child rearing. Another thing to add to the since-I-am-a-stay-at-home-mom-and-theoretically-have-all-this-time-I-should-do-this list. Ha!

  11. gramomster December 30, 2009 at 12:31 am #

    Stay as far away from the ‘What to Expect’ series as you can. Eat what you want. My midwives also told me to have a drink once in a while if I really felt like it, and since when do we not take baths while pregnant?! All three kids, I was TOLD to take baths. Soothes the nerves, helps the joints, relieves the added weight. And, ummm… water birth? Yeah, that happens in a deep tub of warm water. I mean, that’s what the kid lives in! Warm liquid. AAaaaanyhoo…
    I drank my coffee, I ate peanut whatever, I ate tomatoes, broccoli cheese, beans, literally never even contemplated what I should or shouldn’t eat. Got great prenatal care, listened to my mom and friends of her generation (she still likes to point out that she was a smoker, and nobody has any lung problems, except me, the only one for whom she was a non-smoker, and whom she didn’t nurse. 1966 here). The one thing I absolutely under no circumstances ever did was to change the cat box. What a great excuse to get out of that job! My youngest is 17, and I haven’t changed a cat box since well before he came along 😉
    Enjoy your pregnancy. That’s the most important thing you can do. Don’t get neurotic, don’t overworry, don’t stress too much. Just enjoy your pregnancy.

  12. tally December 30, 2009 at 12:32 am #

    I have two pieces of advice:

    1. Find a new Doctor. I LOVE hot baths, and I asked my Dr. how I could know if it was too hot (getting my clue that it may be dangerous from warning signs on hot tubs.) His answer? If it burns you it’s too hot. If you’re gonna be paying somebody a bunch of money, you may as well find somebody who is reassuring and helpful rather than distant or worry inducing.

    2. Learn to ignore. Nobody gets more unsolicited, worry inducing, useless advice than a pregnant woman except a woman with a new baby.

  13. Stephanie December 30, 2009 at 12:32 am #

    I am 35 weeks pregnant, and I can relate to your frustration with “recommendations.”

    A lady yelled at me for reaching on on a shelf to retrieve a book. Apparently the baby was going to strangle on the umbilical cord if I lifted my arms. I don’t know how librarians have children, if that were the case.

    I have a feeling the ridiculousness won’t stop at birth. There are a lot of people in online birth forums vowing to use rear facing car seats until their child is 80 lbs. I look forward to putting my 1 year old in a front facing seat.

  14. Vi December 30, 2009 at 12:34 am #

    Interesting post! As an expectant mother, I was surprised to read this post, especially because I recently wrote about how pregnancy is not for perfectionists in my personal pregnancy journal (http://strawberry-notes.blogspot.com/2009/12/pregnancy-is-not-for-perfectionists_16.html). In short, I concluded that it’s not possible to achieve perfection in pregnancy, and I’d only end up driving myself mad with guilt. Moreoever, perfectionists often don’t even know what perfect looks like.

  15. Joette December 30, 2009 at 12:36 am #

    Allow me to echo what all the other pregnant and no longer pregnant moms here have said. Stressing over every little thing is WAY worse for baby than relaxing and enjoying your pregnancy, allowing yourself “forbidden” items in moderation when you want to. Pregnancy isn’t a disease, you don’t need to be cured, and massive dietary changes are probably more harmful than helpful. A glass of wine every now and then is less harmful than feeling stress. A warm (not HOT, but warm) bath is soothing, which is better for a baby than a cool bath that doesn’t help alleviate your aches and pains. Aerobicize if you feel up to it, just take it a little easier than you would if you weren’t preggers.

    By the way, if you enjoy exercise and the step aerobics get to be too much, I can’t recommend yoga enough. It’s a nice gentle exercise that helps work your core, which as you know is gonna need lots of strength here in a few months.

    Congratulations, and best of luck, mama!

  16. Denise Schipani December 30, 2009 at 12:38 am #

    The What to Expect series (though I confess I read the pregnancy one) really needs to be recalled. It may have some good info hidden in there, but it’s cloaked in a condescending, “now that you’re pregnant you may as well be five years old for how smart we think you are” attitude. My OB, when I asked her for advice, said, “you can read the What to Expect books, but don’t follow their diet. It’s ridiculous and you eat too much.” I loved her.

  17. pinkhairedloli December 30, 2009 at 12:40 am #

    I’ve almost fallen prey to the paranoa myself, primarily the “the baby feels everything you feel” thing. I’m getting my braces off in the spring and I don’t want to wait (and possibly give birth while snowed in! D:). Hubby managed to talk some sense into me.

    I’ll be sure to buy into the kitty litter one though. No cat poop for half a year? Awesome!

  18. FrumDad December 30, 2009 at 12:40 am #

    I don’t know why this is difficult to understand, As soon as you even think you’re pregnant, you must immediately retreat to a warm saline bath and insulate yourself from all light, and possible shock or impact, as well as any sound that isn’t classical music. And even that, we’re talking Mozart or Bach. None of this Mahler or Schoenberg business.

    You must begin to eat only hospital-grade (and quality!) foodstuffs, that have boiled to remove all possible contaminant (and flavor!) and then refortified with the necessary vitamins and minerals.

    You must drink only distilled water and fish oil, fresh squeezed from the fish (handily, you have a salt-water tank at the ready.) But not TUNA. Don’t even *think* about tuna. In fact, go back and unread this whole paragraph.

    You shouldn’t even drive home from the OB/GYN; you should instead be crated up and shipped by special medical courier to your home, where you can slip into your tank and float for nine months. Just remember, you are not a human… you are an incubator.

    In fact, why are you even reading this?!?! This is on the internet! How are you even getting the internet in your electromagnetically hermetic cocoon? Put down that mouse and step away from the screen. The fetal-safety police have already been notified….

  19. Alana M December 30, 2009 at 12:43 am #

    I had my children in 99 and 02 and those What To Expect When You’re Expecting books were huge. They suck. Every problem imaginable listed month by month. I only kept it because it had a good list of milestones each month. Read The GirlFriend’s Guide to Pregnancy. Funny and real.

  20. Emily December 30, 2009 at 12:44 am #

    I TOTALLY feel your reader’s pain! I’m fourteen weeks pregnant, and as I’ve done my pregnancy and childbirth research, I’ve been a bit overwhelmed at times with all the things that I’m supposed to watch and worry about. Other times I’ve just been fed up with the nonsense, and have tried to be as cool and level-headed about it as possible.

    How? I take my vitamins every day. I switched to a “safer” antidepressant but wouldn’t dream of dropping my crazy meds altogether. (What’s the point of having a marginally “safer” pregnancy if I’m a nervous wreck when the baby arrives?) I occasionally have a few sips of beer or wine but I don’t indulge in several glass a day. I consciously choose fresh fruits and veggies more often, but I also dish up liberal amounts of ice cream. My husband cleans the kitty litter boxes, but I still kiss and cuddle all five of our cats. And I carry WAY more than 25 lbs. of groceries when the occasion calls for it; as Julie B. said, I’m pregnant, NOT disabled.

    In short, I’m trying to have a free-range pregnancy so I can have a free-range child 😀

  21. Shannon December 30, 2009 at 12:45 am #

    I found the Girlfriend’s Guide series a refreshing alternative to the ridiculous What to Expect… books. The former focus much more on how to mitigate some of the less pleasant physical side effects of pregnancy, without hitting you over the head with five nonsensical warnings per page about the great damage you do to your fetus if you so much as look at soft cheese after your second week. To second the comment above, women used to cheerfully smoke and drink throughout their pregnancies, and I’ve talked to more than one woman of my mother’s generation who actually was prescribed and took methamphetamine-style diet drugs because her OB was a real stickler for avoiding weight gain. None of these kids turned out to be mutant slime creatures from the deep or have more or less than the appropriate number of fingers, toes, or heads. Overall, I’d suggest talking to older women, not the panicky first generation of helicopter children who are giving birth to their own kids right about now. Women over, say, 55, are much more realistic and fun than their younger counterparts.

  22. AirborneVet December 30, 2009 at 12:46 am #

    Let’s see, I also ate sushi and med-rare steak just as I did before I was pregnant. I took warm baths, but did stay away from hot tubs b/c those temps are very hot. I also kept running until I got a hernia. After that, I only did prenatal yoga.

    I don’t get that whole thing about not letting your heart rate go above 130. Weird unless you have some sort of heart condition. A few ultra marathoners I read about in Runners’ World Magazine raced up until a few days before they gave birth. My doctor basically told me, if your body is used to the physical activity before you got pregnant, by all means stick with it, just don’t start a new program once you are pregnant.

    I liked the “What to Expect” series for some things, but not all. It can make one a wee-bit paranoid.

    Good luck and congratulations!

  23. Brenda December 30, 2009 at 12:47 am #

    Oh – Thank the lord there is more than just me and husband out there. We have taken to calling our friends the POD people of pregnancy… These highly educated and generally sane people turn into completely illogical crazy people when pregnant. I actually have gotten myself into hot water with several of them over the cheese issues. the argument goes something like this

    POD person: I can’t eat that Brie from Whole foods, it is not pasteurized.

    me: Ah yes, so you could have velveta with all its dyes and chemicals, but some all natural cheese from a reliable source, which women have been consuming for hundreds if not thousands of years – that’s out for you. sure – that makes sense.

    POD person – [ angry silence and generally a husband yelling at me for being mean]

    Really – I have run out of tolerance for it. I have a one, exactly one renegade friend who knows that she can go out to dinner or lunch with me when she wants to be “bad” and go against all of the “advice.”

    My best friend, a doctor, was in on the whole thing – I thought that she may have seen the light of logic – but no.

    The worst – some of them are keeping the “rules” during breast feeding, because you can’t be too safe. I can only imagine that the kids will have no immunity what so ever.

  24. Emily December 30, 2009 at 12:47 am #

    Oh, and I quit smoking before we conceived! Every once in awhile I’m in a car with a smoker and catch a contact buzz, but that’s got to be a negligible risk compared to my former pack-a-day habit. And though I’ve tried to cut down on caffeine, when I’m dying for an energy boost, I don’t hate myself for having a Coke.

  25. Wyngdlyon December 30, 2009 at 12:49 am #

    I ate soft cheese, drank a beer or a glass of wine on occasion (my Dr. actually told me I could have up to an ounce of alcohol a day), had sandwiches & sushi on a regular basis and even sat in a hot tub while I was on a cruise. If I started to feel too warm while in the hot tub, I got out for a bit.

    Both my kids are normal (relatively speaking that is ~wink~) and healthy.

    When people commented to me about “You can’t do that you’re pregnant” I looked and them funny and usually did it anyhow much to their horror. The only thing I really didn’t do was lift anything heavy. Hell I even set up a medieval tent at on of our camping events by myself.

    Like someone above said, the best thing is to listen to your body and not over do it and find a Dr. that you feel comfortable with and is honest with you, not one that is going to make you feel incompetent every time you ask a question. Heck my Dr for my first pregnancy was even supportive when I told him I decided to go to a birth center instead of the hospital. Incidentally he was the backup Dr. just for the birth center and I knew I would have been in good hands if I actually had to be transferred to the hospital. I was so happy with him and the way he handled everything I have recommended him to many friends.

    Congrats, and don’t let those people get you down.

  26. Irons December 30, 2009 at 12:56 am #

    I’m a father of 4 and went with my wife to good number of her visits when she was pregnant. For what it’s worth this is what I got out of her conversations with her doctor.

    Don’t smoke
    Don’t drink alcohol
    Keep your fish consumption low
    If you exercise regularly, keep it up. If not, don’t start now.

    That was about it. There some specific instructions for my wife, but nothing that generally applies.

    The problem is people are suffering from to much information. They are taking specific situations and applying them broadly.

    No, the bizarre paranoid people never stop. Everyone has unsolicited advice and fears of their own to pass along.

    Congratulations and Good luck

  27. HSmom December 30, 2009 at 12:59 am #

    I tell my kids that God made them out of Chicken McNuggets because I ate so many of them when I was pregnant (with all three children)…

    With regard to food allergies… I had people tell me DON’T eat peanut butter while pregnant (which I did a LOT!) and also TO eat it… both pieces of advice were given (by two different people) with the idea that each theory would help avoid peanut allergies. I ate a lot of PB during pregnancy and none of my kids has any food allergies…. and they love Chicken McNuggets. 😉

  28. rachel December 30, 2009 at 12:59 am #

    I had my 5th baby in May 2009. My oldest child was born in May 1999. When I got pregnant with baby #5, I purchased a pregnancy magazine so that I could check-out the newest strollers, baby gadgets, etc. I read the magazine from cover to cover and nearly had a panic attack by the end! I could not believe how much had changed in the 10 years since my first pregnancy! If I followed every bit of advice in the magazine, I’d never leave my home and even then, would worry about whether it was worse to clean the house (chemicals!) or let it get dirty (germs!)

    Really, the child is safe in the womb and we have to remember that we just need to use common sense (don’t smoke crack, wear your seat belt) and take care of ourselves and our developing fetus as best we can.

    Seriously. I was born in 1970 when many women smoked, drank alcohol and caffeine throughout pregnancy. Seems to me that most of my generation have not suffered permanent damage as a result.

  29. The Mother December 30, 2009 at 12:59 am #

    I am a doctor, and I spent most of each pregnancy wanting to post a sign on my tummy that said, “BACK OFF!”

    If even your own colleagues, who KNOW better, can’t keep their mouths shut, what do you expect from the ravings of the internet masses, who regularly spew woo and goo about medical conditions (and, YES, pregnancy IS a medical condition!)?

    Turn off the damn internet, stop googling, tell your MIL to go to hell, hole up in a corner and enjoy your pregnancy.

    If you dare to go out in public –and I have to tell you, I think there was something to be said for the Victorian attitude that pregnant women should not be out where they can be seen (not for the public, mind you, but for the woman’s peace of mind)–get a t-shirt printed that says: Six months. Girl. Now Mind Your Own Business.

  30. Jennifer December 30, 2009 at 1:00 am #

    We call those overly paranoid, interfering people The Pregnancy Police.

  31. KateNonymous December 30, 2009 at 1:07 am #

    To the originally writer, congratulations! I’m six months pregnant and have completely ignored the existence of the “What to Expect” books. So what do I refer to? The Mayo Clinic’s pregnancy guide, The Panic-Free Pregnancy (love this book!), and the Internet–after all of which, I ask questions of my OB or his nurse.

    I have avoided cold cuts and soft cheeses (but I have accidentally eaten bleu cheese twice–oh, well, I’m doing my best), and have cut back on (but not stopped) my peanut butter intake (my policy is “minimization, not elimination”). But in general I’ve tried to follow my usual policy of moderation in all things. I have a cup or two of tea a day, eat small, healthy portions throughout the day, and have a scoop of ice cream for dessert–every day! (That last part may change if the results of my gestational diabetes test aren’t good, but I’ll address that when the need arises.)

    But I’m also getting as much sleep as my body and mind will allow (less than random strangers tell me I should get) and, since we adopted a dog last month, have been walking every day–lots more than I did before I was pregnant.

    Throughout, when I start to wonder if I’m doing something that will hurt the baby, I remind myself of all the horrible conditions (throughout time, and around the world today) under which women successfully bear and raise children, and move on with my life.

  32. KateNonymous December 30, 2009 at 1:07 am #

    Whoops. That should be “original writer.”

  33. gramomster December 30, 2009 at 1:11 am #

    On the whole ‘pregnancy isn’t a disease’ thing… my daughter’s midwife, during the birth prep classes, made a giant point, through videos and other means, of making sure her clients understood that birth is part of the sexual repertoire, not a sickness, not an illness, not a disability. On that note, try not to let any doctor or whatever caregiver make you hold your breath when you push. This causes tears. Open throat, open vagina. Tight throat, tight vagina. Try it… trippy stuff. Oh. And definitely definitely kegel. Those things are very effing helpful both before AND after… even YEARS after *wink*

  34. kori December 30, 2009 at 1:20 am #

    Bwa-ha-ha! Glad it’s not just me :-)
    Right now I’m 25wks pregnant with my 4th child and just this week I ate ceaser salad, medium rare filet, un-nuked lunchmeat, fresh tuna steak, runny eggs and a glass of wine. Oh and I take steaming hot showers all the time. How can I relax otherwise??

    Be smart – don’t soak in a hot tub, if you don’t normally drink raw milk now is not the time to start, stay away from the litter box, try to take your vitamins (unless they make you throw up in which case don’t take them) and don’t overindulge in alcohol.

    Have a great pregnancy and enjoy your baby!! (and then beware of the crazy baby food police, “WHAT?? You gave MEAT to a 7 month old????” and the crazy baby carseat people and they crazy……well you know!)

  35. MMC December 30, 2009 at 1:22 am #

    First let me say that I have made a lot of (moderate to extreme) accommodations to make sure that my pregnancy is as healthy as possible. I know I’m a bit paranoid, but it was only by some miracle that we even got pregnant after 10 years of effort, so I guess I’ve just been particularly nervous about something going wrong.

    BUT, that being said, I don’t think that women who simply use common sense and ignore all the paranoid advice that I’m following are putting their babies in danger of any kind. I think that, for the most part, developing babies are pretty durable, and if you use your good judgment (i.e. avoid sticking your fingers into electric outlets; perhaps take a pass on the thrice-daily martinis; etc…) you’ll probably be just fine. Like Lenore says, “it’s really not all up to you.” Fate, genetics and luck also play a pretty big hand in this. :)

  36. pentamom December 30, 2009 at 1:27 am #

    My theory always went something like this: do what my mother did, except when it seems like common sense overrides 50’s-60’s era medical theories (e.g., don’t worry as much about gaining weight as they did back then, exercise lightly and sensibly because you’re not an invalid, etc.)

    Result: five kids with no developmental problems and excellent overall health. Two of them were quite small at birth despite being full term, but no advice I read anywhere did any good for my being sick as a dog which obviously deprived them of nutrition. Oh, and when I got sick enough, yes I took prescription nausea meds occasionally because I figured starving was worse for the baby than the small amount of meds left over after my body metabolized them.

  37. Heather December 30, 2009 at 1:29 am #

    When my daughter was born almost 3 years ago now, she was born with a underdeveloped lungs at almost full term. She spent a week in the NICU until her lungs finished developing. Her doctor at the time told my husband and I that he is seeing more and more cases like this. Why? Because mothers are taking too good care of themselves and the babies. Babies need a certain amount of stress while they are growing and developing to trigger certain hormones that they need.

  38. pentamom December 30, 2009 at 1:31 am #

    I do have to put in one positive plug for the “What to Expect” books, though. I mentally chucked the “every bite spells doom or success for your baby” stuff out the window, but I really did appreciate the detailed info on month by month development, understanding the birth and recovery process, etc. It’s a useful book for people who know how to sift their grains of salt. 😉 And FWIW, the advice on nutrition and exercise and so forth was really quite sensible, if you ignore the underlying attitude that precisely how well you follow it is life or death for your baby.

  39. pentamom December 30, 2009 at 1:34 am #

    Oh, but one thing — have those books been significantly revised since the early 90’s? Maybe they’ve gotten worse — I just remember my experience with them with my first couple kids, and thinking that the tone was rather uptight, but the info was useful. I don’t think I cracked them much after my 15 year old was born, having them pretty well memorized by then.

  40. Rachel December 30, 2009 at 1:39 am #

    Hmmm…I thought I was free range with my first (drank a bit while pregnant, ate whatever I wanted) but this time around, I’m even more laid back. It will all be fine. Eating sushi will not harm my child. The best advice I got during my first pregnancy was to avoid the “what to expect” books.

    That having been said, the internet has been useful for me in learning about the really serious over-management of pregnancy found in modern obstetrics. As someone trying to avoid another c-section, I’m not looking for a “birth experience.” I’m trying to do something my health and the health of my baby. But there has been a lot of conflation of empowered patient with entitled patient. Sometimes I wonder if in search of the perfect pregnancy, we ignore the really serious issues that can arise with a perfectly normal birth in the U.S. today.

  41. thordora December 30, 2009 at 1:41 am #

    I helped push a truck out of a snowy ditch when I was a little over 8 months pregnant, to the horror of my father. I knew I was fine, and the baby was even more find.

    Trust yourself. I dug up too much info with my first pregnancy and felt lost. My second, I mellowed a bit and just let it happen. Both kids are healthy an fine.

    Sometimes I think we just have WAY too much free time on our hands. :)

    Good Luck!

  42. ryan December 30, 2009 at 1:42 am #

    Go read what Mimi’s mama has experienced at http://hotbellymama.blogspot.com/

  43. Bernadette Noll December 30, 2009 at 1:52 am #

    YES LENORE! This is the current mania – that unless we do all and be all and give all, we are denying our children the chance to rise to the TOP of the pile! It is only when we realize we don’t really care about the pile as it were, we can relax into doing things the way that works for US. As individuals.

    When I was pregnant with my third child, at age 38, I was already put into the advanced aging mama category – without anyone looking into my history at all. The fact that both my mom and grandmother delivered healthy babies well into their forties and had late menopause mattered not. All mothers were lumped together into the advanced maternal age grouping. It was with this in mind that when I delivered my fourth and last child, at age 42, we opted to deliver at home where I could call the shots with my midwife’s advice. I know I would have been hooked up to every tube and monitor on the planet otherwise!

    We have to do things based on the information we get and from there based on our gut. With all the dogma and overkill of information, we are teaching children to tune out their gut. And I know, in my own experience, my gut has saved me from many, many struggles.

    Keep up the great work Lenore. You are giving words to what so many people are feeling!

    Bernadette
    Austin, Tx

  44. Dino December 30, 2009 at 1:58 am #

    I’ve never been pregnant (wrong gender) and in spite of the question of pregnancy asked by health care professionals, my son is not now nor has he ever been pregnant.

    However, as a former military medic in hospitals where we cared for lots of dependents, I’d like to point out the obvious.

    Women have been having babies for thousands of years without books, highly trained doctors or the internet. Women of different cultures have eaten and done as women in those cultures for thousands of years. And, looking around, it seems that humanity has survived.

    Sure, a small minority of pregancies entail problems. That’s when getting professional help comes into play…not “What ot Expect” or other popular guides.

    Pregnancy is not a disease. It is a part of life.

  45. okaasan59 December 30, 2009 at 2:01 am #

    My kids were born 21 and 17 years ago and some of this advice I’ve never heard of. Avoid soft cheese? Nuke lunch meat? That one sounds counter intuitive. The What to Expect books were new then and I remember being scared to death by them but not changing my lifestyle too much. I even worked in a veterinary clinic and changed many, many litter boxes. I just made sure I wore gloves and washed up well afterwards. BTW, both my kids are healthier than normal and brilliant! ^_^

    Did everyone see the trailer for the new movie Babies that compares the first year of life in several different countries? It was posted in this blog a few weeks ago. http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/2009/12/08/the-babies-are-coming/
    I think it will be fascinating and look forward to it.

  46. sligo December 30, 2009 at 2:02 am #

    More than 50 years ago, my then 40 year old mom got pregnant with twins. She had had two kids ages 13 and 16, and back then doctors didn’t think old ladies like her would get pregnant. But she did, and had my sister and me.

    My mom liked to have a beer while ironing and watching a ball game, smoked like a chimney, took diet pills and was xrayed a few times, as at first they didn’t know if we were one baby with many arms or twins. She also would, if my dad wasn’t home, tinker on the old Chevy to keep it running. No one had heard of proper nutrition, other than that meat and potatoes were good!

    Somehow we turned out ok. I tell women about my experiences, and how even with all of that my sister and I turned out ok and tell them to not worry so much!!

  47. Lisa December 30, 2009 at 2:09 am #

    What a relief to find this post and discussion!

    I’m 18 weeks pregnant, and on my first doctor visit to confirm the pregnancy (it was so unplanned that I wondered if I’d made a mistake on the home test), I got a laundry list of things I was not allowed to do.

    I think I’ve broken every one of them: sushi, tuna sandwiches, lunch meats, soft cheeses, the occassional sip or two of beer or wine, soy, raw cookie dough.

    And I’ve had such a difficult pregnancy fatigue-wise (I’m still sleeping 10–11 hrs/day, down from 15–16 early on), I can’t imagine getting through without a cup or two of black a tea each day. My first doc told me absolutely NO caffeine–no black tea, no green tea, nothing. Supposedly, it puts you at high risk of miscarriage. But the only published evidence on that was in women who drank more than three cups of *coffee* per day.

    Then there are those stupid books with their stupid expectations of exactly when and how much weight you should gain. I started off with a BMI of 22, (the mid-point of normal) which means, according to the popular pregnancy books, I should only gain 25 pounds total–nothing in the first trimester, 1/2 lb week in the second trimester, 1 lb/week in the third trimester. Which, it should be noted, only adds up to about 20 pounds.

    Well, I’ve been so queasy from week 3 onward that I have two choices: eat something that sounds palatable or puke. Really, if I go for more than a few of hours without a decent meal, I vomit. And if I don’t eat before I go to sleep, I puke in my sleep.

    By week 16, I’d gained 12 pounds. If the BS in the books is to be believed, I’m on track for gestational diabetes and a massive, undeliverable baby.

    Fortunately, I found a sane midwife. When I went to her with my weight concerns, she just took one look at me and said, “You look fine.” Huh? “Really, if you were gaining too much weight too quickly, you’d look fat, and you don’t.”

    I wish more doctors would assume a similar attitude.

  48. jim December 30, 2009 at 2:27 am #

    Just to twist the tails of the Pregnacy Police (love that term!) – for the last quarter-century and more my social circle has been largely a bunch of artists, musicians, social activists, scenesters, and other ner’ do wells. Of course, you know what those people are like when they are in their mid-20s to mid-30s – they like to breed! And without adequate financial/ housing/ medical care planning – they (the gals at least) just show up pregnant. The result has been a flock of wonderful smart, funny, talented, extremely well-socialized munchkins (as a local singer once remarked in print about his then-6 year old daughter “She’s best of friends with people that most grownups find scary”) who turn out better-than-fine on average. With any group of 50+ kids, there are going to be a few “problem kids” who become troubled young adults. The really weird part of this? Out of the flock I can think of three – off the top of my head, there were surely more – extremely gifted, mature, creative, healthy kids whose moms smoked cigarettes while they were pregnant! Hard liquor and drugs were no-nos, but otherwise it was just life as usual, with morning sickness.

  49. Karin December 30, 2009 at 2:32 am #

    So glad to see I’m not the only one who is driven to deink on this subject. I remember when I tried to question the wisdom of the “no lunchmeat rule” while pregnant. I was craving ham and turkey sandwiches and wanted to make sure what doom would be held if I indulged in my craving. I could not find one incident of somone dropping dead, babies born with extra ears or even a you’ll gain an extra 2 pounds by eating the meat. All I got was vague references to the nitrates with no solid evidence of any problems post pregnancy.

    My friend and I used to joke that we were going to start a rumor about green beans being bad for you during pregnancy We wanted to see how fast it would spread while giving no definitive proof or reasoning why the beans would be harmful. We would sit at baby showers whispering in womans ears and then sit back and watch green beans stock plummet.

    Oh, I drank coffee while I wasa pregnant too.

  50. deanne December 30, 2009 at 2:50 am #

    If only this blog had been around for my first two pregnancies. There’s a flip side to the “I broke all the rules and everything turned out fine” story. Its the “I followed all the rules to a T and had a tragic outcome” story. My first baby, my tiny precious little boy, was born 4 months premature (and died at birth) for absolutely no reason that the doctors could discern. After 5 months of obsessively following every rule I could find, I lost my baby and no one could tell me why.
    Which of course led to the inevitable question: What had I missed? What had I done wrong? How had I failed?
    Of course, no one came right out and said it, but the whole pregnancy related industry seemed designed to keep that question looming in my mind as I tried to navigate the grief and pain of that loss.
    Its only now, 2 years, one healthy baby and into my 3rd trimester of pregnancy number 3 that I can finally accept what my husband, family and doctors tried to tell me all along, “You can’t control everything. No amount of rule following and perfection can eliminate 100% of the risks. Sometimes things really do just happen”
    Of course, that’s not the message that we want to hear in our society, is it? We want to know that if we only work hard enough, sacrifice enough, buy the right things, listen to the right warnings, we will eliminate all risks to our children.
    Well, into every life a little (or a lot) of pain must come. Its far better to build our relationships and coping skills than waste our time and energy running from the inevitable.

  51. gramomster December 30, 2009 at 2:50 am #

    I just reread one of the things that cracked me up… rear-facing until 80 pounds?! That is hilarious! Do they have any idea how old an 80 pound kid is? My youngest was 4’7″ and 68 pounds in 8th grade! He did skip a grade, but still… our current state law here would have required that he still be in a booster. 4’9″ and/or 80 pounds. He’s now 17, 6’1″, still skinny as a rail, but completely perfectly fine. And brilliant. 3.97 as a sophomore in college. Yeah. 17.
    Just the mental image of a 9 year old in a rear-facing car seat is absolutely hilarious! Lanky legs all scrunched up… probably feet in the back window, or over the back of the seat if a minivan or SUV, which of course it would be… HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    That being said, I did get the booster that allows a 5-point buckling to 65 pounds for the grandkid. He’s one of those ‘let’s fiddle with this until we figure out how to work it’ kinda guys though. He’d be out of a buckle in about .73 seconds. So, 5 point harness it is until he can keep his sticky little paws off the mechanisms.

    and @ jim…
    us too. Those are totally our friends, and even more so when we were having our kids in the very early 90s (90 and 92). We were Deadheads in the Bay Area. 70 thousand little kids, wandering around Dead shows. Most of them had good ear protection, and no shoes. And very tangly hair. And were having SO. MUCH. FUN!!! All those kids are doing just fine. Some are in college, some are living in the mountains being their own artsy ne’er do well types. All are healthy, bright, funny, talented young adults. And sidebar… I don’t think any of them over the age of 17 live at home. Neither of mine do.

  52. Andrea December 30, 2009 at 2:54 am #

    My best friend completed Basic Training and backpacked 5 days of the Colorado Trail before realizing she was 16ish weeks pregnant. Baby’s doing fine.

    I had that book Your Pregnancy Week by Week, and I started calling it “What can Go Wrong With Your Pregnancy This Week.”. Such a mindfuck!

  53. Daddio2B December 30, 2009 at 3:13 am #

    When we were trying to get preggo, I was pretty worked up about my wife’s beer tooth (like a sweet tooth, but with beer). By no means did she drink too much, but she did like a fine Oregon microbrew or two with dinner.

    My feeling (and from all the fear-mongering literature I read) was even a little beer could affect a little tiny blob of cells growing and if we were trying to get pregnant, why even take the risk by having some with dinner. My mom (who raised me Free Range) gaffah’ed me saying if a couple of beers before knowledge of implantation damaged kiddo development, the world would be full of a bunch of beady eyed “Deciders.”

    The more I thought about it, the more I agreed. I’ve been teaching sixth grade for 4 years now, and I wonder how many students I’ve had that are products of a passion filled, alcohol induced night.

    Now my wife and I are 25 weeks along with identical twin boys (We’re the 1 in 400–fate, luck, whatever; in this case being a statistic is awesome!) They are healthy as far as we can tell. My wife eats sushi, does pilates, and has even eaten a sausage or two.

    Since reading “Free Range Kids,” we have found solace in the fact that we don’t have to, and shouldn’t worry about every little thing. This is good since we have several friends who are also due soon and are partaking in the newest fad of forking out big bucks to go to special classes that prepare you for labor and how to take care of the kid after it’s arrived. One friend told me the class suggested the guy ask what kind of color his girl wants to visualize when she’s laboring. I can just imagine… “Honey, remember…visualize light mauve, there…that’s good.”

    Meanwhile she’s telling me to STFU and to get the hell out. =)

    I wonder how humanity has lasted this long without those dumb classes.

    Anyway, love the book, love the philosophy, especially since we are having two at the same time and who has the energy or time to helicopter over twins.

  54. De in D.C. December 30, 2009 at 3:25 am #

    All the cheese sold in the US is pasteurized or aged long enough that listeria isn’t a concern. The USDA doesn’t allow young non-pasteurized cheeses to be imported or sold. So pregnant American ladies; eat all of the brie and bleu cheese you want here!

    I’m at 37 weeks and have traveled to both Canada and Europe during this pregnancy, so did watch my cheese consumption in other countries (and it just about killed me when we’d get served amazing soft cheeses for breakfast and I’d have to abstain). I’ll also have the occasional half-glass or wine and don’t bother pre-cooking my lunch meats if they’re fresh. I also had 18hr flights at 32 weeks (much to the horror of a few co-workers) without any problems. The pregnancy bubble-wrap mentality gets old quickly. I was glad not to have to shovel 20″ of snow last week though 😉

  55. Lisa December 30, 2009 at 3:45 am #

    After 15 straight weeks of 24/7 morning sickness, I can tell you: the best foods to eat when you’re pregnant are the ones that don’t make you throw up, regardless of the “experts” say.

    And no matter how “good” it is for you, if it comes back up, avoid it like the pregnancy police avoid their lunch meats.

  56. RS December 30, 2009 at 3:48 am #

    I agree completely – though I have to say that the whole argument of “women have been having babies for x years” or “children have been surviving just fine without x for y years” irks me. Worldwide, childbirth and complications arising from it is still one of the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age, and for a large portion of history in pretty much all the world, anywhere from one in ten to one in three children died before the age of five.

    Obviously there’s a lot of paranoia out there, and no pregnant woman should be policed – literally or metaphorically – for having a bath, or exercising, or eating how she likes. But we should recognise that the propogation of the human species has always been on a trial and error basis, and give some props to the advancements in sanitation and medical knowledge – and the wealth – that allow most of us in the west to have a safe pregnancy without much effort.

  57. Donna December 30, 2009 at 3:50 am #

    Are you kidding? I loved “What to Expect” and the dietary rules when I was pregnant. It was great that I, by virtue of pregnancy law, couldn’t eat rare meat, fish, sushi, runny eggs, blue cheese or drink anything caffeinated. See I hate all those things anyway so I had an excuse for 9 months other than I’m a really picky eater. And everyone had to follow my wishes for food because, afterall, I didn’t just not want to go to the Fish Palace because I hate fish but because I’m pregnant and fish can harm the baby. “What to Expect” made pregnancy easier than pre-pregnancy life for me. I started to make things up. Anytime someone suggested something that I didn’t like to eat, I told them that it wasn’t good for the baby. Hey, maybe that’s how these rules started in the first place – some smart pregnant women made them up so that they didn’t have to eat things or do things for 9 months.

    Really, I couldn’t take prenatal vitamins and did so many things I was told not by books from eating peanut butter and lunchmeat to taking hot baths to cleaning the litter box to gaining 50+ pounds and my child is perfectly healthy (and wasn’t a monster-sized baby).

  58. anonymous December 30, 2009 at 3:52 am #

    Just wanted to mention that my step aerobics instructor taught our 90-minute step class all through her pregnancy — right up until the week before she had her baby. The only steps she didn’t do were high knee-lifts. She would shout “Lift ’em high for me, ’cause I can’t do it myself!”

  59. pentamom December 30, 2009 at 4:17 am #

    gramomster, I’ve come to the point where I just automatically tune out the stuff about size and car seats without even thinking about it. My kids have all been really small for their ages, but it runs in the family. If I were to follow the car seat height and weight guidelines I’d have teenagers in boosters — literally. So not only do I ignore it, I have the ability to entirely mentally block on the whole subject. I keep my kids in car seats to about the point where a normal sized child of the same age would be. That always keeps me well within the laws, anyway.

  60. pentamom December 30, 2009 at 4:24 am #

    RS, I agree — the temptation is to go too far and be cavalier about the whole thing as though pregnancy carries no risks and all children are optimally healthy no matter what, when human history tells us that’s not at all the case. Meet a person who struggles throughout life with fetal alcohol effect, even in a relatively mild form, and you realize that it’s not as though none of these could possibly be dangers to any degree. Or observe how people who suffer real malnutrition (whether poverty-based or lifestyle based) have notably less healthy babies. It’s just that people can never seem to find a sensible middle ground on anything. I guess it’s about fear — it’s “safer” to run to an extreme just to make sure that nothing is overlooked or allowed that could potentially carry the tiniest risk of being harmful.

    I remember being told that the reason women should not drink a single drop of alcohol during pregnancy is that we know that high levels cause harm, and research has never determined a “safe” level, so the only really “safe” level is zero. That’s not common sense — the safe level is obviously that level at which women have indulged over time with no harmful effects. If history shows that women who have a glass of wine with dinner a couple of times a week have healthy babies that show no alcohol-related effects, then we know that’s a safe level. But people are too fearful to use common sense, just as with everything else we so often discuss here.

  61. Vedrfolnir December 30, 2009 at 4:25 am #

    God, what happened to pickles and ice cream? When I was growing up, mothers were told to take long walks and lay off alcohol. Now we do baby Mozart (Check Penn & Teller’s Bullshit: Season One Episode Five for the truth on that. Check Season Six for Lenore’s episode) and pop pills; ridiculous. Listen to your cravings, people. More often then not, it’s your body telling you it’s low on some necessary vitamin or element.

  62. Joette December 30, 2009 at 4:29 am #

    @Vedrfolnir: Apparently when I was pregnant I was low on Kentucky Fried Chicken. :)

  63. Kelly December 30, 2009 at 4:33 am #

    I just wanted to chime in for the mom-to-be: my kids are 5 and 7 and I remember how much pressure there was to do EVERYTHING right during pregnancy and labor and trust my every detail to doctors or experts or whatever. There really is – in this day in America – so much of this pressure. But (the vast majority) of pregnant women are tough and so are their babies. Pregnancy is a natural – not necessarily a medical – process. Like midwife Ina May Gaskin says, “Remember that you are as well made as any monkey.”

    Good luck avoiding the crazy-making “advice” and lectures! I’d love to tell you it stops with childbirth but… :-)

    Wishing you a happy birth!

  64. Nicola December 30, 2009 at 4:42 am #

    It’s only recently in human history that we’ve started treating pregnancy as a medical condition… it’s not… it’s a human condition – a mammalian condition common to all mammals on the planet.

    I, too, was scared to death by all the books telling you what to do and what not to do… eventually, you just have to listen to yourself. If you look at those books as a neat way to see what your kiddo looks like during development, you’ll discover a lot more ease.

    Take your bath, eat your foods, you can have that glass of wine every once in a while (or if you just want to forgo the alcohol in lieu of ice cream – that was always better to me). Enjoy yourself and relax – we’ve been having babies since before we were human beings at all – listen to your body and you will be fine.

  65. gramomster December 30, 2009 at 4:45 am #

    pentamom, oh heck yeah. with you on the carseat size thing. I never in a million years would’ve put my kid in a booster to go to highschool, but Michigan also didn’t have this very restrictive law at that time. Law is about 2 years old. Kid would’ve been illegal out of a booster until 15. Hah, haha ha ha. Like that would ever happen. Grandkid is still 3, so booster for sure for a while. Squirmy little bugger. My kids were in belts around 5. Daughter was tall, but skinny. As she remains. 5’8″ plus, and lucky to hit 125 with a steady pizza and beer diet. It’ll bite her in the proverbial ass at 35, but she’s got another good decade and change.

    vdrfolnir… I must’ve been low on pastrami and swiss!

  66. gramomster December 30, 2009 at 4:46 am #

    Oh, and yay for Ina May! Now there’s a woman who’s seen a few little folk enter the world.

  67. Nancy December 30, 2009 at 4:58 am #

    I worked at a caterer’s with a woman who was pregnant. She actually got really mad when I would offer to lift her tray for her. She lifted trays right up to her delivery, and her child is FINE. She worked just as hard as everyone else and never ever even once used her pregnancy to get out of doing her share of the work.

    I don’t know if I’ll do EXACTLY like her, but c’mon…. women been doing this forever, and you gotta figure momma knows best.

  68. Jbdiehl December 30, 2009 at 4:59 am #

    I am so glad I found this site/post! I agree with everything that everyone’s been saying so far, and I SOOOOO needed to hear it!

    Here’s why: I am 33 weeks pregnant and had been having a perfectly relaxed and wonderful pregnancy for months- ate feta & goat cheese & lunch meat & runny eggs, drank the occasional beer or glass of wine, even had a few pieces of raw tuna at a fabulous party one time- right up until the moment I was bullied into taking the glucose test. I did not fall into any of the major risk categories (no family history of diabetes, not obese at conception, white), but I was told that I “should” get tested anyway, just to be sure. Of course, no one told me that stress or how far along you are in your pregnancy could affect your numbers, so I went ahead and took the test- at 31 weeks, one after finishing my masters degree (and a mammoth research paper), one week before Christmas, and after a night of maaaybeeee 5 hours sleep. Needless to say my numbers turned out to be a little high (though still not technically high enough to warrant the OGTT by most standards- I was 137). I was then called and told that I needed to come in for the three hour test. Once again- not told that stress could affect your numbers- I became immediately worried and got about 4 hours of restless sleep the night before the test. So two of my 3 hour test numbers came back high (though one was only over by ONE POINT), and I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes- case closed.

    Now my calm and peaceful pregnancy has been turned into a mire of worrying about every spoonful of sugar (or carbs) that passes my lips! Despite the fact that my blood sugar levels (which I now have to test 4 times a day) are all coming in well within the safe & normal range, I will forever be on the books as a “gestational diabetic” and may now risk being bullied into an induction or a c-section (I’m planning a natural, drug-free birth) if I go so much as a day past my due date.

    Of course, the funniest thing about this whole situation is that I have been eating pretty healthy food all through my pregnancy (with the BRIEF exception of a few more sweets at Christmas) and would not have even KNOWN about any elevated blood sugar had my hospital stuck to the testing standards endorsed by most medical institutions (i.e: the OGTT is only required if the one hour testing level comes back at more than 140). And as of a decade or so ago, I would not even have been tested for glucose levels at all without falling into a high risk category!

    So, just another example of the “advice” causing more harm than the “problem”.

  69. MrsE December 30, 2009 at 5:02 am #

    Here’s what you need to know: maintain whatever level of exercize you’re accustommed to as long as it’s comfortable for you. Don’t smoke. Minimize alcohol consumption ( a little bit once in a while is just fine, really) Stay out of the hot tub and sauna. Wear your seat belt as low on your hips as you can, under your belly when you start to show. Eat whatever you want. And start thinking about giving birth at home or in a birth center

  70. pinkhairedloli December 30, 2009 at 5:05 am #

    Ryan posted: http://hotbellymama.blogspot.com/

    I look at the cute little girl posts on the first page – yay – and then randomly delve into the archives. OF COURSE the first post I look at is the miscarriage post. Egads!

  71. Li December 30, 2009 at 5:19 am #

    I love how everyone here is giving advice! You see, even on Free Range people can’t help telling you what you should be doing during your pregnancy. Seriously, anyone who is posting a list of dos and don’ts is entirely missing the point.

  72. Shannon December 30, 2009 at 5:44 am #

    @MrsE: All of that seems sensible, except the last part. As other people have pointed out here, yes, women have been having babies…well, forever, but it’s also true that the first world infant mortality rate has declined incredibly in the last 50 years. And it’s not due to better information about cold cuts or soft cheeses, or even about alcohol or smoking: it’s due to hospital-based medical intervention. And interestingly, the same pregnancy police who bring us such helpful advice as “If you don’t play Mozart to your baby in the womb, it will go to community college someday” are also the most likely group to advocate home births, doulas, peppermint tea as anesthetic, etc. Why? Because if you don’t have any respect for or knowledge of scientific methodology in one arena, you likely don’t possess it in any other. This leads to the interesting contradiction of upper middle class, educated women getting hyperparanoid about things which have no foundation in reality (i.e. caffeine as abortifacient) but simultaneously feeling perfectly comfortable relegating the actual birth of a baby–where all sorts of nasty things can and often do go wrong, just by chance–to someone in a profession that is by and large unregulated, while far from the life-saving procedures and equipment that could make all of the difference to them and their child if an umbilical cord is in the wrong place or the baby is breech. It’s all part of a general scientific illiteracy that I find more than a little troubling, both as a woman whose condition in life has been improved immeasurably by the happy condition of being born in 1982, and as a graduate student of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century history.

  73. beth aka confusedhomemaker December 30, 2009 at 5:55 am #

    It seems like we are so uptight about pregnancy and parenthood in this country. I have friends from Europe & around the world who are so much more relaxed than we are here, we over medicalize everything. Taking even the basic enjoyment out of a walk because hell you could fall down! When really our bodies as women are designed to carry children, yes we can’t go wild & probably shouldn’t join the rodeo for bull broncs when preggers but we should be able to use basic common sense, trust our instincts, & relax. So enjoy your cheese & life! By the time I got to baby #3 during the pregnancy my level of worry was way down & my enjoyment of life was up.

  74. Jean December 30, 2009 at 5:59 am #

    Thank god for this site. I am 17 weeks pregnant and have been inundated with advice/books/internet until I don’t know what to believe anymore.

    I have been seriously craving beer and looked up non-alcoholic beer which has a very low percentage of alcohol in it – like under .5%. I thought I could have just one, looked up info about it online (big mistake) and found lots of people screaming that I was a selfish person and why why why would I ever put my baby at risk. It worked, I didn’t have any out of guilt.

    I am so sick of the Pregnancy Police, I think I’m going to put myself on a no-Internet diet!

  75. Lilly December 30, 2009 at 6:31 am #

    Put the books away, limit the internet and all the crazy advice you can run into and trust yourself and your instincts. You already know what to do and when you need some advice I am sure you have some trusted people to ask, hopefully that includes your doctor.

    I wish you well!

  76. Patricia December 30, 2009 at 7:18 am #

    Yeah, I was bad during my three pgs too. For one thing, I take antidepressants – oh no! A drug!! Thank God for my laidback, very experienced OB. He also recommended an occasional drink (Stout – yuk!) but I didn’t take him up on that as I don’t drink anyway.
    My 12 year old was constructed pretty much entirely of Milk Arrowroot biscuits (a very bland cookie, for our US friends) because the thought of anything else made me want to throw up. And guess what – not only is he pretty cute, School Captain and officially Gifted (whatever that means), he’s offensively healthy as well.
    My second pg (now my 10 yo) started his gestation with daily doses of Heparin, and a diet of cheese and cashews (I had Hyperstim, a side effect of all the IVF drugs) and finished off with daily Xanax (a valium relation) when I developed PTSD from the trauma of the illness! That’s the one who looks like an ad for children and is a talented dancer.
    Then there’s my 7 yr old. I was 42 when I accidentally and miraculously conceived him after 20 yrs of infertility. We had that STUPID nuchal translucency test at 12 weeks and were told his risk of major genetic abnormality was ‘the third worst ever seen’ in that clinic. The scanning doctor thought I was a raving loony not to have an immediate abortion. I said, the risk is one in 9? But that’s almost 90% chance he’ll be fine! Oh no, she said, it’s 89% And that’s terrible!!
    Guess what?
    Yeah, that’s right. Perfect.
    I couldn’t resist – his first Christmas, I sent her a lovely photo of his intelligent little face looking up at the Christmas tree with the reminder that this was the child she said, and I quote, would probably be ‘incompatible with life’!
    Do what your body tells you, do your best to avoid really obvious toxins, and live a normal life – except, of course, when you can get out of something yucky like the kitty litter!

  77. Dragonwolf December 30, 2009 at 7:52 am #

    Lots of answers already! I’ll chime in, anyway, since I’m also pregnant (21 weeks!). I will admit, though, that I’ve been far more careful/paranoid than most people, but that’s due to a prior late-term miscarriage. That said, I still try to be realistic.

    At my first prenatal appointment, my doctor gave me a booklet of various information, including what foods/medicines to avoid. I’ve followed it pretty closely for two reasons: a) like I said, I’m paranoid (and some of the things in the list ARE known to cause problems), and b) the items in that list tended to make me sick, anyway.

    The key for whatever you put in your body is to remember that pretty much everything you eat will also go to your baby, but it will be a fraction of the amount that you’ve consumed, so moderation is key. Did you know it’s actually considered safe to consume up to 200mg of caffeine a day? A can of Mountain Dew has something like 40-50mg, and it takes about 15oz of coffee to hit that limit (so if you’re only drinking one caffeinated drink a day, you’re probably fine). Another food that is typically on the “do not eat” list is fish, but the thing is, it’s only certain kinds of fish that doctors recommend you avoid completely, namely high-on-the-food-chain fish, such as shark and swordfish, because of the mercury levels. Mid-range stuff, such as tuna, is supposed to be limited (for the same reason), but doesn’t need cut completely. In fact, the Omega fatty acids are SPECTACULAR for your baby. So eat the fish, but if you can, go for the stuff with lower levels of mercury.

    Regarding the hot water thing, what I found (and I found it to be a good idea), is that it’s not recommended to be in HOT water (as in, things like hot tubs), because it raises your core body temperature (because you can’t sweat to regulate your temperature), which can raise the temperature in the womb and could have adverse effects. The question then becomes “how hot is too hot?” Like someone else said, if it burns, it’s too hot. Your comfy shower or bath probably won’t be too much, and it starts cooling as soon as you stop adding water, anyway.

    The exercise thing? Please… I think the most important thing is to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard, make sure you drink enough water, and wear clothes that are breathable so you don’t overheat. Low-impact stuff is generally recommended, more for your own health than that of the baby (I don’t know about you, but I want to be able to still walk when I’m 60). Remember, your joints, muscles, and bones are under enough strain and are softening so they can expand as needed for birth. Ever really look at the exercises they recommend you do? They’re Yoga and Bellydance moves (on a side note: highly recommend bellydance, it’s awesome for keeping in shape while pregnant and it practically designed for pregnancy; but as a bellydancer, I’m biased =P ).

    @Shannon — While I agree that those that go on to extremes about the “evil” of hospitals are a little…out there, they’re not entirely without a good point. The sad fact is that the US infant mortality rate is among the lowest of First World nations, and many believe that it’s due (at least in part) to the overly-high rate of unnecessary medical interventions. For example, a doctor might take action if the labor goes on “too long” (as in, more than a couple hours), which often leads to the baby going into distress and a c-section being called for.

    Your breech situation is also an interesting one. While it can potentially become an emergency, it’s also possible for the mother, through movement, to reposition the baby, without the need for medical intervention.

    Also, the midwifery field isn’t as unregulated as you think. While there is a class of midwives that aren’t certified, there are also several classes of midwives who ARE certified, with at least one of those classes being not only certified midwives, but nurses as well. That means they carry the same level of expertise as many of the people that you’d have at a hospital. They also have tools to fix non-emergency complications and won’t hesitate to go to the nearest hospital in the event of an emergency. There are also birthing centers, which do deliveries exclusively, and can be a good option for typical (“low-risk”) pregnancies, because they have more tools available than a home birth situation would have. Midwifery regulation also varies by state. For example, some states require midwives to be certified.

    However, home births and birthing centers aren’t for everyone. For example, I’ll be delivering at a hospital, due to my past experience. What’s important, though, is that you know your boundaries and what you can do and can deny (and THAT you can deny, or demand more info before making a decision), and that the ultimate decision for pretty much everything is up to you.

  78. KateNonymous December 30, 2009 at 8:19 am #

    RS and pentamom, you’re absolutely right about maternal and infant mortality through the ages. However, it’s also true that, overall, the basics work, because we continue to survive as a species.

    I don’t think most people who have referenced the span of time and place (including me) mean that these are not issues that continue to plague a huge portion of humanity. But we–at least, I–do mean that a little perspective can balance out the mania.

  79. sue December 30, 2009 at 8:33 am #

    on the no exercize… i’ve worked on farms and with horses entire life… 7 months preg in july and the kicker on the bailer broke. so we had to throw bales[50-60 lbs] on wagon. i tried to getout of doing it due to the baby and my doctor said why not, you do this all the time! also rode through all thre kids, actually the only way to calm the kicking on my first… guess what all three turned out fine.

  80. Dragonwolf December 30, 2009 at 8:50 am #

    Sue — Isn’t general horseback riding (ie – not racing or jumping or whatever) considered beneficial in many cases (other than pregnancy), because it simulates walking? The thing I always hear about the “no horseback riding” bit is the idea that you could fall off. I don’t know about you, but I’d find it difficult to fall off a horse on a leisurely ride, especially if I’ve been riding for years already!

  81. bequirox December 30, 2009 at 9:16 am #

    I drank Pepsi at least once a day, I ate candy and chips like they were going out of style, I never exercised, I skipped several Dr.’s appointments, and I stopped taking my vitamin after the first 2 months. (Even before that, I forgot it almost half the time.) I’d bet my (healthy) first born child that *whatever* you do this pregnancy, you and the baby will be fine.

    Even if you have cats, you’re probably fine to empty the box since you probably were exposed to that disease (what’s it called again?) years ago and now you already have an immunity.

  82. Nicole December 30, 2009 at 9:22 am #

    I think the biggest thing is that all of the warnings crowd out the real dangers- this applies to all stages of life, not just the fetal stage 😉 . I know people who have gone off of asthma meds because they could be dangerous to the fetus. I don’t know about you- but I’m pretty sure that have a low oxygen saturation, or going into status asthmaticus is worse for a fetus than inhaled steroids.

  83. gramomster December 30, 2009 at 9:44 am #

    @Shannon.

    I find this interesting, as I’ve encountered the opposite. Those I’ve known, it’s always the ones who have ultimate faith in the professionals in all things that are the most active helicopterers (word? maybe…), the ones who follow all weird rules, have bi-weekly ultrasounds, play the Mozart, have the scheduled induction… the often highly educated ones, which makes sense, as they also have the most invested in the whole expert thing.
    The folks I’ve known, myself included, who are more free-range in their ideas about parenting are also those who take more ownership of their pregnancies and births. I had a hospital birth with my first kid. Awful, horrible, terrible experience. Overridden at every turn. Forced to stay basically tied to the bed by monitors for 16 hours. I was low risk, had been in perfect health my whole pregnancy, had absolutely no reason to be denied the chance to walk the halls at least. Had Demerol injected into my IV as I was refusing the medication. “Oh honey. You don’t KNOW what you want.” Literally. That is what the nurse said to me as she injected the Demerol into my line. Great. Thanks for acknowledging my intelligence.

    Okay, absolutely I agree totally that the advances in medical knowledge and ability to intervene when needed have been the primary determinant of the fall of infant and maternal mortality. That being said, I believe we have done the uber American thing of, if some is good, more must be better, so let’s do WAY more! That’ll be way better! And in fact, it is not. We have taken medical intervention to such an extreme that med students never see a ‘normal’ birth, as ‘normal’ now is induced, medicate, monitored, and managed. After immense amounts of research and talking with women of all sorts and experiences, I chose not to go that route again.

    Kids 2 and 3 were born at home. With highly qualified midwives, who worked with a back-up OB who had followed me throughout my pregnancies, and who would have taken over primary care had I needed to be transported. One woman had been an OB RN for 10 years before moving to midwifery, her partner was a certified EMT with a firefighter husband in our town of 1200, and the midwife for my last kid was a PA, with licensure for oxygen and pitocin. I was in very good hands.

    My daughter went to a birthing center, staffed by amazing women, about 3 miles from the hospital, where they had great relationships with the medical staff. They rarely had to transport. Because, in a normal birth, (which, by the way, most medical students have never seen, because we start out the process with interventions), there is very low chance of an emergency arising. Of course, one wants responsible caregivers who will move them to a medical setting should it become necessary! And it does! My best college friend had two girls, both homebirths. Then in her last pregnancy, she developed pre-eclampsia, her midwives sent her to the hospital to be induced, and moved into the role of doulas. And doulas are very helpful for those women and families that don’t have support systems nearby. If you don’t have good friends, mom, sisters, etc to help with an older child, or to do your dishes, or run your laundry, or hold the baby while you shower, it is really overwhelming really quickly.

    Anyway, we also, while having a low infant and maternal mortality rate, do have higher rates than many other developed countries, and in many if not most other developed countries midwives still deliver the majority of babies, even in hospital settings. We also have a crazy high c-section rate. Here is a link to the WHO information.

    http://www.childbirthconnection.org/article.asp?ck=10456

    Fascinatingly enough, in 1965, when we had a fairly low infant mortality rate, we had a c-section rate of 4.5%. We now have a rate of around 30%. Normal, everyday interventions that are largely unnecessary are a listed contributor to this high percentage. The WHO recommends between 5% and 15% as the range in which c-sections are helpful and necessary. We’re double the top of the range. Which can be read as at least half of our c-sections are unnecessary. Which is why I chose to have 2 homebirths, and why there was no way in hell I was sending my kid to the local hospital to give birth. The rates at that hospital for c-sections in young mothers is over 50%. My daughter was 16. She got great prenatal, took care of herself, ate well, etc. She gave birth, in about 7 hours of labor, to an 8lb 12oz boy. Healthy as a horse. She didn’t tear, she had him latched on before the cord was cut, it was awesome. And I knew without a doubt that if she ran into problems, we’d be at the hospital. But because it was NEEDED, not because that’s what we’re supposed to do.

    We have really shameful statistics on maternal mortality as well. But that’s another rant altogether.

    Nutshell: thank goodness we have the knowledge to intervene when necessary. Wish we had the wisdom NOT to intervene when it’s NOT necessary.

  84. Jen C December 30, 2009 at 9:54 am #

    With my second pregnancy, I was a little freaked out because I couldn’t hardly eat anything without feeling like I was going to throw up (9 months without a steak, ugh!!), and ended up only gaining 5 pounds throughout the whole pregnancy (as opposed to a healthy 26 lbs with my first). My doc assured me that everything was fine, the baby was developing normally, and lo and behold I had a perfectly healthy 8lb 3oz baby girl. What’s the point? All the people I talked to and websites I visited warned me that my baby would be undernourished and underweight. Obviously they were wrong and my doc was right.

    In the end, avoid fads and pop-culture advice, go with what YOU feel is best & right, and if in doubt, ask your doc. Good luck! :-)

  85. erica December 30, 2009 at 9:55 am #

    Hey Mama-to-be! Don’t sweat it! I ate sushi, climbed ladders, painted – indoors, lifted objects over ten lbs., shovelled snow, spread gravel with a shovel, and gardened -without gloves. I have seen that there are some parents who drink, smoke and do drugs from day one to week 42 and still have babies who thrive. There are also those who do everything “right” and have something unfortunate happen. I think these overbearing individuals with all the rules are simply stating them so that stupid people won’t go overboard. Obviously, don’t paint in an area without ventilation – but if a doctor or author does not put it in a book, Suzie Stoopid will go and do just that, causing her baby to suffer from lead poisoning because she’s using an old can of lead-based paint from the 60’s she found in her dad’s basement. I’m convinced warnings are for those who cannot think for themselves and for those who’ll sue as soon as an opportunity arises. Look at those ads for medicines – the whole ad takes up 4 magazine pages…95% of it is “if you have this don’t take this with that under these conditions and may cause blah blah blah.” You’ll be fine.

  86. Shelley December 30, 2009 at 10:03 am #

    As the biological mother of 5 children, all whom were born healthy, have remained healthy and have at the very least an average intellect, I will summarize all you need to know for your pregnancy: MODERATION accompanied by common sense will see you through. Now relax and enjoy each stage of your pregnancy and that precious new baby who will be here all too soon :)

  87. ebohlman December 30, 2009 at 10:04 am #

    Jean: That :”at most 0.5% alcohol” thing is actually a legal standard that applies to any beverage that’s not considered an alcoholic beverage. It applies to fruit juice. It applies to pop. It applies to iced tea. It even applies to bottled water. A NA beer is very unlikely to contain more alcohol than orange juice. At that concentration, it would be impossible to raise your blood alcohol level detectably even if you drank it by the gallon; your liver would destroy the alcohol before it had a chance to get into your general circulation.

    (There’s some semantic confusion because members of Alcoholics Anonymous call NA beer “near beer,” which outside of 12-step circles refers to beer with an alcohol concentration of around 3% (regular beer is between 4.5%-5.5%). The latter definitely will get you smashed if you drink enough of it.)

  88. Esther F December 30, 2009 at 10:36 am #

    The best piece of advice anyone gave my husband and I when we were trying…”What to Expect When You’re Expecting” is nothing but birth control…after reading it, you are too frightened to try!

  89. ShortWoman December 30, 2009 at 10:36 am #

    Some years back, I was in line at a coffee shop with my baby when I noticed a very pregnant woman behind me. I told her “I have one bit of advice for you,” and you could see her stiffen. Then I said “*It’s ok to ignore everybody’s advice*.”

    She immediately softened and regaled me with tales about how her parents were giving her all kinds of advice that was totally against what the doctors were saying, and expressed how much she appreciated my words. I already knew from experience what she had been going through (sometimes I wonder how my husband lived to be an adult considering the advice I’ve received).

    So thank everyone for their concerns, ignore their advice, and move on with your life.

  90. Molly Santa Croce December 30, 2009 at 10:50 am #

    It’s very empowering to trust yourself and your own body while you are pregnant. Dont read ANY books. Just go about your life, eat healthy, everything in moderation. No need to worry, nothing you can do anyway. Relax and enjoy your pregnancy!

  91. Maureen December 30, 2009 at 10:56 am #

    You know, the one thing I wanted them to tell me that I couldn’t do anymore was work. But apparently it’s perfectly fine to work a high-stress job right up until the minute you drop the baby. What I found interesting was that after I had the baby, by emergency c-section, I read about a study saying that moms-tp-be that stay home and rest the last month of their pregnancy have a significantly lower rate of c-sections.

    Eat your cheese, have a beer or some wine, have some caffeine. Just whatever you do, do NOT – I repeat – do NOT read anything about breastfeeding on the internet. If you think the pregnancy boards are bad…

  92. Steve December 30, 2009 at 10:57 am #

    I cannot believe that this “hysteria” has gone digital. I would recommend to this soon to be mom to relax. It is difficult to raise a child(ren). Since there is no handbook on raising children, I suggest she does what she and her husband/ father thinks and feels is the right thing to do to raise their child.

  93. RadiantLux December 30, 2009 at 11:06 am #

    @ gramomster I couldn’t agree with you more.

    Check out one of my favorite pregnancy authors http://www.hencigoer.com/

    OB practices follow standards of care which are basically set by lawyers. Most of the invasive care that is done is for CYA reasons, not because it is necessary.

    I loved being pregnant except for all the prenatal visits.

  94. Nicola December 30, 2009 at 11:12 am #

    @Maureen: Oh that breastfeeding business… no kidding. I’ve never seen a group of women more ravenous and out for blood than those for breastfeeding (read: “bestfeeding”) against those who don’t. You’d think formula was spoiled dog food the way they rave on. I had a tangle with one of them before… long story with a horrible experience, but yeah… those chicks are crazy.

  95. Alecia December 30, 2009 at 11:44 am #

    I am so thankful that my doctor gave me the following advice (similar to others above): stop drinking except occasionally, take your pre-natal vitamin and don’t eat too much mercury (or fish with mercury.) I didn’t cut out sushi, soft cheeses (hard to get in USA anyway), etc.

    We are on a Mad Men marathon right now since my husband has the flu. This is a great show for realizing how crazy, over-the-top we are these days with safety, germs, etc.

  96. Virginia December 30, 2009 at 11:53 am #

    Pregnancy books! I loathed the “What to Expect” books with the heat of a thousand suns, but I had a friend who really liked them. The “Girlfriends’ Guide” books are funny, but the author was a little too anti-earthy-crunchy for earthy-crunchy me. Almost eleven years after giving birth to my last child, my conclusion is that you should pick out 1-3 pregnancy books that don’t make you want to vomit or jump out of a window and just read those.

    My own favorite book, now sadly out of print but available used, was “The Midwife’s Pregnancy and Childbirth Book: Having Your Baby Your Way” (http://tinyurl.com/ycgjjfo). I loved the way it explained the research showing that being in a childbirth environment that feels safe and comfortable to the mother is important for the health of both mother and baby. But if you read it and hate it, give it to Goodwill and find something else!

    Ditto for breastfeeding. I loved breastfeeding and nursed both my kids till they were almost three. But even my friend the La Leche League leader says that rule number one is : Feed The Baby! Breastfeeding just doesn’t work for some people, for a variety of reasons, and formula is food too.

    –Virginia, who now realizes that she was sometimes pretty judgmental herself when her kids were babies and that all that judmentality sprang from her own insecurity.

  97. Jen Connelly December 30, 2009 at 11:55 am #

    I think the worst thing I did my first pregnancy was read the What to Expect book. I regret it now when I look back at the pregnancy and how miserable I was and how guilty I felt because I couldn’t follow all the “rules”.

    I remember the big ones for me were the caffeine and sleeping on your side. I almost solely drank iced tea back then so I thought I had to give it up. I cut back to 1 glass at breakfast (we usually went out with my fil to his local hangout) but we only went a couple times a week. It was then that I realized I had a dependence on caffeine to keep my migraines in check. After 3 days of no caffeine I have one monster migraine that won’t go away even with medication. But I kept up the no caffeine rule and just suffered with mind splitting pain day after day (to the point of tears).
    I slept only on my sides for 6 months. By the end of the pregnancy I was in so much pain in my shoulders and hips that I couldn’t get comfortable no matter how I slept and cried myself to sleep every night and felt overwhelming guilt when I finally gave up and slept on my back (but only for a few minutes at a time because I could suffocate the baby).
    It was insane.
    But despite the rule following I did a lot of things the Pregnancy Police would frown against. We went to Disney World for our honeymoon when I was 3 1/2 months pregnant and I went on the Safari ride and one of the roller coasters. I single handily moved (well, almost) from our apt to my in-law’s house. That meant I packed, carried boxes, loaded them into our pickup, unloaded them and carried them into my inlaw’s house. I was 8 months pregnant. And about a month before I was due I took my husband to a WWE event where it was super loud.

    My daughter is now 9 1/2 years old and perfectly normal, healthy and smart.

    And I learned some lessons. I’m now about 12 weeks into my 6th pregnancy (my 5th child, had a miscarriage with #5) and I refuse to look at pregnancy websites or advice.
    I do and eat what I please. I drink as much caffeine as I like and, amazingly, I’ve cut back without even thinking about it. I just don’t have a taste for tea or pop. I eat lunch meat whenever I like (did that with all my kids). I take super hot showers because there is no point to shower if they aren’t scalding hot to me. I sleep however I’m most comfortable…back, side, stomach, whatever. I sleep with a heating pad which I’ve done since I was 12 years old because of back problems. Basically nothing in my life has changed except I’m utterly exhausted all the time and my sense of smell is so heightened that every smell in the house makes me sick, lol.

  98. Delia December 30, 2009 at 11:55 am #

    When I was pregnant with my first, I got about half-way through one of those how to be pregnant books then stopped reading it when I realized it was driving me crazy. I then discovered that my body knew what it should and shouldn’t do if I only would listen to it. When I started craving liver sausage 24/7, I ate it, especially since a couple days after the craving started, my doctor found I was getting low in iron. My body knew and had me crave something high in iron to compensate. Once that happened, I became more confident in my body’s ability to take care of itself. I’m still not sure why I craved Mexican food, but I’ve now got a teenager who lives on salsa and burritos.

  99. Mae Mae December 30, 2009 at 12:27 pm #

    I didn’t make it through all the comments because I’m at work and should get back to it but…Someone mentioned lamenting the days when pregnant women could just continue on with their lives. Exactly! Another thing for the original poster to remember is to trust her instincts after the baby is born also. My daughter was born in February. I was at the mall with her the day after I had her and people thought I was the worst mother. Taking a baby out of the house, in the winter no less, and exposing her to germs at such a young age. Also, I should be resting after such an ordeal and not out shopping. Phooey! I felt fantastic, was stir crazy from being in the hospital and wanted to do something fun. It really never ends. Do what feels right for you and your family.

  100. Kelly December 30, 2009 at 12:31 pm #

    On the one hand, be thankful that everyone cares about the fact that you’re having a baby and wants to focus on you and shower with you so much advice and um…”love.” Because once that baby pops out, you’ll forever be known as “So and So’s Mom” and not have an identity until they graduate from college and only then will you remember that you once had a life (and I say this as the mom of a two year old…that was pretty much how my mama explained it to me, lol). People get all crazy when kids or babies are involved. Develop a blanket response: “Thank you so much for that piece of advice/information. I’ll think about that.” A little white lie never hurt anybody. Trust your gut. I won’t say don’t read or listen to everyone; there might be something useful for you to learn. Just take it all with a grain of salt and do what you think is best! Listen to your body; it was made for this and will tell you what it needs and what is happening! Best of luck and congrats! Parenthood is the adventure of a lifetime ;o)

  101. Meg December 30, 2009 at 12:51 pm #

    I don’t have any advice, other than to echo what everyone else has said about throwing out “What to Expect”.

    I found “Your Pregnancy Week By Week” to be helpful, but the book I loved best was actually one I bought for my husband — “The Caveman’s Pregnancy Companion” — mostly down to earth, light on the OMG don’t do this, and full of charts.

    but really all you can do is practice saying “my doctor and I are handling my care, thanks for your concern” and changing the subject :)

  102. B. Durbin December 30, 2009 at 1:16 pm #

    Heh. When I went in for my first checkup with my second pregnancy (I’m about 25 weeks in— looks like there’s a bunch of us), the ultrasound nurse looked worried when I said that I’d gained about 12 pounds in the first ten weeks. “Oh, you shouldn’t do that; you don’t want to have another big baby.*”

    So I mentioned it to the paperwork nurse (lots of charts), who snorted and said that the only medical professionals she’d ever seen who warned about weight gain were those who’d never been pregnant themselves— and the one who were so concerned invariably gained way more than “target” amounts. That’s one reason I love the medical insurance group I’m with. And every single person in the delivery department is either a parent or a parent-to-be.

    Incidentally, with the first pregnancy I was working six days a week at two separate jobs, one that involved physical labor (though it wasn’t hard in the least to get the heavy lifting passed off.) I stopped three weeks before my son was born, mostly because the main job was forty miles from home and I didn’t want to deal with trying to get home in labor.

    And my husband did yell at me for rearranging the furniture when I was about seven months in, but I was good and only slid it. Quietly, because I didn’t want him to hear me doing it. 😀

    *My son was almost ten pounds, no gestational diabetes. But because he was over nine pounds, I’ve already gotten to do one oral glucose test and I get to have the second, standard one at my next checkup. I hate those things because they feel like a bellyful of candy on an empty stomach. I’m not particularly happy about winning the big baby lottery, but family history suggests that’s what I’ve done.

  103. arduinnae December 30, 2009 at 1:20 pm #

    I’m guilty of this. The other night, I went out with some of my husband’s friends and one woman there was pregnant. As we were leaving the restaurant, we saw her in the parking lot… smoking.

    After letting me vent my indignity for a moment, my husband explained that she had tried to quit smoking, but that her doctor felt that her symptoms of withdrawal were actually more likely to harm her fetus than the smoking would. So in her case, the doctor recommended that she slowly cut down on smoking and not try quitting cold turkey again.

    And thus I was taught yet again that assumptions help no one. My assumption was that this was a horrible monster who obviously didn’t care at all for her child and would probably try to eat it as soon as it was born. Turns out, she was just doing what most parents do – the best she can.

  104. LindaLou December 30, 2009 at 1:40 pm #

    How about just using some common sense, finding a good doctor you trust, and having enough backbone to not care if the world approves of your actions?

    No one is going to agree on everything. This thread just proves it. I personally believe that if you can’t stop smoking and drinking for 9 months for the sake of your unborn child, maybe it’s not quite time to be a parent yet.

  105. Greta Koenigin December 30, 2009 at 2:31 pm #

    You are SO WRONG! I ate no vegetables and only pizza and bagels with cream cheese in the first trimesters of my pregnancies. Now, ALL THREE of my children talk back to me. Had I know, I would have suffered through those cups of steamed spinach and fought the reverse peristalsis TOOTH AND NAIL.

  106. HeatherJ December 30, 2009 at 2:40 pm #

    Well, hell! I did it all wrong! I ate soft cheese (LOVE gorganzola!), drank caffiene, took hot baths AND sat in our hot tub! I ate anything and everything that sounded good. No lunchmeat? Even at the time that one sounded totally insane. Had chocolate, peanutbutter and any matter of sugar that I wanted! I painted, cleaned with actual cleaning agents, polished my toes and COLORED MY HAIR!!!! My pregnancies were so normal both my OB/GYNs said I was boring. Though one nurse the second time around tried to get me to have genetic testing because I was 34. Whatever. I have two beautiful, smart, bright, funny daughters. Do what feels natural to you. Don’t let the Prego Police get to you. They’re sheep.

  107. Kristie December 30, 2009 at 2:50 pm #

    Okay, I’d like to set the record straight on one thing about car seats, for people who are determined to turn their kids at one year old just to prove that they can. For me, there’s a difference between being free range and just plain ignoring science. As Lenore’s said here before, car accidents are one of the top killers of kids, so why don’t we keep them from riding in cars? I can’t do that, and I won’t keep my kid in a bubble, but I will make their experience riding in cars as safe as possible within reason, and that includes following incontrovertible scientific evidence, as discussed below.

    New advice: Rear-facing car seats safer for children until they are 2

    by Lori O’Keefe • Correspondent

    Toddlers between the ages of 12 and 23 months who ride rear-facing in a car safety seat are more than five times safer than toddlers in that same age group who ride forward-facing in a car seat.

    Overall, children under the age of 2 are 75% less likely to die or experience a serious injury when they ride in a rear-facing car seat, according to the first U.S. data to substantiate the benefits of toddlers riding rear-facing until they are almost 2 years old (Henary B, et al. Inj Prev. 2007;13:398-402).

    There is a common myth that rear-facing toddlers whose feet reach the back of the vehicle seat are more likely to suffer injuries to the lower extremities in a car accident, according to a commentary co-written by Marilyn J. Bull, M.D., FAAP, AAP District V chair and one of the co-authors of the study. However, lower extremity injuries are rare with rear-facing seats, Dr. Bull wrote in the commentary (Bull MJ, Durbin DR. Pediatrics. 2008;121:619-620).

    Rear-facing seats are more likely to support the back, neck, head and pelvis because the force of a crash is distributed evenly over the entire body. Forward-facing children are more likely to be injured because the force of the crash is concentrated on seat belt contact points, and younger children’s heads are disproportionately large for their small, weak necks, according to the study.

    “I teach my medical students that parents worry about leg injuries but that it is far better to send children to orthopedic specialists to have lower extremities treated than to send them to neurological specialists to have cervical spine injuries treated,” said Dr. Bull. “I put it into the context of rehabilitation potential: fracture vs. paralysis.”

    In Sweden, children ride in rear-facing seats until the age of 4, which has been proven to be 90% effective compared to children who ride unrestrained. However, car seats are engineered differently in Sweden to allow older toddlers to remain rear-facing longer.

    “Since motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death in children, the Academy must do whatever it can to educate our members and the general public about the safest ways for children to ride in motor vehicles,” said AAP President David T. Tayloe Jr., M.D., FAAP. “We should make sure all of our members know to encourage parents to keep their children in rear-facing car seats as long as they do not exceed the size limits of the car seats.”

    Dr. Bull noted that it takes less than 30 seconds to tell parents that children are five times safer riding rear-facing until their second birthday — a statistic that is likely to stick with parents.

  108. Rachel December 30, 2009 at 4:18 pm #

    I have to say that the images in my head upon reading “free-range fetuses” are hard to shake, LOL!

    My twin pg was pretty hard to come by, so I was a little nervous at the beginning, but soon realised that there was not much point putting my lifestyle on hold completely (and then of course not putting it back because I had twins), and went back to business as usual.
    So usual, that at a checkup at 32wks my OB/GYN said “you’re looking great, just keep on with the complete rest and you’ll be fine”
    Say WHAT? I came here from work, and I have an important meeting tomorrow morning!
    “Not any more, dear”
    Babies came at 37.5 wks (I took myself off bedrest when I hit 36wks, figured that in the 9th month, the worst that could happen was to have the babies, which wasn’t looking such a bad idea by then – I was bored out of my brain), and met the same mother they had got to know from the inside, not a toxic and unhealthy version of the sterile mother I had been told to pretend I was.

    They weren’t disappointed, and were very healthy too.

  109. Gilrean December 30, 2009 at 5:44 pm #

    About 10 years ago at the height of the listeria hysteria I worked in a (pasteurised) soft cheese factory as QA manager, in our factory all cheeses are . At the factory we had cheese tasting 2-3 times a week. (blue, white and product development). Our pregnant factory manage participated in all until she left for maternity leave.
    My pregnant SIL was horrified when I told her. Child was fine of course.

    Sometimes you do have to wonder with all the things our mothers did wrong, how come we were born and healthy? We all must be miracle babies.

  110. Keith Williams December 30, 2009 at 6:18 pm #

    Wow Lenore, do you live in a amish village? Because it sounds like your views are like out of the 1800’s where it was commen to die in child birth.
    Your views not withstanding there will always be more information than any one person needs because we are all different and what works for one may or may not work for another, she just has to use her ability to disearn the good from the bad.

  111. Samantha December 30, 2009 at 8:56 pm #

    I think, as mothers, we so often rely on outside information (the internet, our doctors, etc…) when our instincts would serve us pretty well if we just listened. If *you* think what you are doing might not be so good for your fetus, don’t do it but I can tell you that eating a piece of bleu cheese or taking part in a step class isn’t going to hurt your fetus. The never-ending stress might.

    You really do know what is best. Congratulations on your pregnancy!

  112. Nicole December 30, 2009 at 9:06 pm #

    @Stephanie No current car seat rear-faces until 80 lbs. One does rear face until 45 lbs- most kids would get to about 40 lbs, or roughly 4 years old, if you follow the AAP’s guideline to “rear face to the limits of your convertible seat” as seats have height limits. Vehicle accidents are a leading cause of death and serious injury in children- rear facing increases safety by up to 500% by protecting the neck and spine. In Sweden most children rear face to sometime between 4 and 6 years old- it’s part of the culture and no one bats an eye.

  113. tracelp December 30, 2009 at 10:32 pm #

    The person who wrote “what to except when you’re expecting” obviously did not ever experience morning sickness, all day nausea, and food aversions during pregnancy. A better title for that book would be “what to worry about when you’re expecting”.

  114. eva December 30, 2009 at 10:37 pm #

    I believe that self induced stress is worse for your baby than anything you can consume during your pregnancy.

  115. Odete December 30, 2009 at 11:10 pm #

    Do not read “Girlfriends guide to pregnancy” or other such books or web sites that have no scientific content that are -produced by middle-aged-well-to-do-white females that have low IQs/low self esteem/no common sense and have nothing else to occupied them selves with.
    Take this from a veterinarian: for ages women that were unable to read/ lived in starving w. war II desolated countries/ even in the middle of the Sudanese refugee camps have been giving birth to healthy children!!!!!

  116. Lisa December 30, 2009 at 11:20 pm #

    @tracelp: I hear you on What To Expect When You’re Expecting. I was so angry, I had to give it back to the friend who lent it to me. All their crap early on badgering women to eat a “healthy” diet from day 1 and not to gain weight in the first trimester. Ack! Clearly, the authors had never serious, unrelenting, 24/7 “morning sickness.”

    Me, I was (and still am) happy whenever I can find *something* I can eat, be it a cinnamon roll, a doughnut, white pasta with butter, or pita chips. And when frequent eating is the only thing that keeps you from barfing, well, you just have to accept a little bit of weight gain. For me, it was 10 lbs in the 1st trimester. Somehow, I think that was better than puking my guts up, getting dehydrated, and losing weight.

  117. Uly December 30, 2009 at 11:29 pm #

    However, Stephanie, you can get seats that front-face *but have a five point harness* up until 80 pounds or so, and many of those are convertable (they rear-face until 40 pounds, then you turn ’em around), which is probably where the confusion comes in.

  118. pentamom December 30, 2009 at 11:30 pm #

    Kristie, maybe I missed something, but I don’t think anyone was objecting to having one year olds rear-facing. It was 14 year olds in booster seats that people were having trouble with. There are some times when maximum safety just isn’t practical, even if you don’t dispute the safety value.

  119. Meredith December 30, 2009 at 11:40 pm #

    I had a colleague nearly spill the beans about my pregnancy (she guessed early) in front of my boss because she was so concerned about the rooibos tea I ordered at Starbucks. Which is, for the record, herbal and totally fine.

    At about 15 weeks I broke down and ate deli meat. And I have been sipping alcohol at random times throughout– good wines only, the stuff I really miss. I can’t wait until I’m postpartum. My first dinner out will be back to that Italian place with the great muscat I couldn’t enjoy a whole glass of.

    Oh yes, and I got the seasonal and H1N1 flu shots, totally “unnatural.”

  120. Isabella December 30, 2009 at 11:54 pm #

    Once parents realize that they actually don’t HAVE CONTROL over their children they’ll be better off. Kids have control of themselves. They make all of their own decisions and they decide if they’re going to abide by the rules or not. All we can do as parents is teach right from wrong and hope that our children make the “right” choices. Parents really need to just relax because if you spend all your time worrying about your kids you’re not doing anything good for your kids at all. You’re just showing them that they have a worry wart for a parent and they’ll be irritated when you’re around. The best thing to do is really talk to your children about life, keep an open line of communication going at all times, discuss right from wrong when it’s appropriate and stop freaking that you might mess up your kids. Their life is made up of a combination of THEIR choices and your job is to be there for them every step of the “right” or “wrong” way. If you are pregnant or have a baby and want to get some answers to your questions I came across a great free Pregnancy and Baby ebook at http://www.babydirect.com that I wanted to share. Good luck everyone! Happy Parenting!

  121. Dragonwolf December 31, 2009 at 12:24 am #

    B. Durbin — *laughs* I’ve LOST 25lbs since I found out I was pregnant (I’m quite a bit overweight, so the baby still certainly has plenty of supply, and he can have it, as far as I’m concerned), and my boy’s still measuring about a week ahead in size and weight (according to the charts I’m finding, at 19w, he should be about 8-9oz….he measured something like 11oz at my last ultrasound).

    My husband yelled at me a few weeks ago, because I slid the couch about two feet to show him what I was talking about after we argued about how to rearrange the living room for whatever reason. I’m just like, “sliding isn’t lifting, because it used different muscles in a different way than lifting. Besides, I’d rather spend 30 seconds doing that and dealing with the matter, than spend the rest of the day on edge with you.” Suffice to say, he clammed up pretty quickly. =D

    Greta Koenigin — Heh, bagels and cream cheese were my life saver at some points until about 16 weeks. It was pretty much the only thing that looked good and I could hold down. Right now, Chicken Ramen has been a main staple in my diet (at least for dinners). I know so many people that would probably yell at me for the amount of sodium I’ve had, but I think it’s not only keeping my blood pressure up (despite all the salt from the Ramen and other soups, the pickles, and the chips, my BP hasn’t much exceeded 120/80), but also keeping my electrolytes in balance against all the water I drink.

    Re: the rear-facing thing a couple have mentioned —

    I actually read an article one time regarding the rear-facing thing. Did you know that we are safer while rear-facing? What cracked me up about the article (and what I remember most) is how it mentioned that we should all be rear-facing if it were possible to drive like that. It’s because you’re less likely to get whiplash and other head injuries. I think it’d be both a cool and hilarious idea to see cars that were set up so you’d drive backwards (my guess with a screen so you think that/operate like you’re driving forward).

  122. Uly December 31, 2009 at 12:42 am #

    Yeah, Dragonwolf – EVERYbody is safest riding rear-facing except, of course, the driver. It’s basic physics.

  123. Gail December 31, 2009 at 12:54 am #

    My advice: ignore it all. Stay off the web, don’t read books, leave the room when people try to give you advice or comment on how you’re doing things. Repeat after me: “women have been bearing children for millions of years, women have been bearing children for millions of years, women have been …”

    I had a really good pair of books called “Your pregnancy week by week” and “The first year week by week” that were fact based and didn’t lecture.

    If you practice these things now, you’ll get good at it by the time the baby is born and you’ll be all ready to face the legions of people who will spend the next 18 years giving you unsolicited advice.

  124. Kristie December 31, 2009 at 1:27 am #

    @Pentamom: I was just trying to give some info for Stephanie, who posted the following above:
    Stephanie, on December 30th, 2009 at 12:32 am Said:

    I have a feeling the ridiculousness won’t stop at birth. There are a lot of people in online birth forums vowing to use rear facing car seats until their child is 80 lbs. I look forward to putting my 1 year old in a front facing seat.
    ——————————————————–

    I run into that exact attitude a lot (this past weekend, with a well-meaning family member, actually), and I try to keep that article handy to explain why I’m doing what I’m doing. :-)

  125. KB December 31, 2009 at 2:37 am #

    I’ve been eating lunch meat all during my pregnancy, no one told me not to, lol. Doctors and midwives say the baby is fine though. I refuse to read any books or read on the internet about what I should be doing though because I’m anxiety prone and I knew it would drive me crazy. My midwife said, exercise even if it is just taking a walk, take your vitamins, drink plenty of water, and that’s what I’ve been doing.

    I don’t see how anyone could stand food restrictions during the first trimester if they are having “morning” sickness though. Pretty much the only thing I could eat was pizza. I hardly ever touched a vegetable or fruit the entire first trimester and I REALLY tried to. But I would just puke it up. My midwife said it was fine and the baby would be fine as long as I made sure to take my vitamins.

  126. sylvia_rachel December 31, 2009 at 3:14 am #

    Put the What to Expect… book down, back away slowly, and get your partner to recycle it for you. Then take a deep breath, have a few scoops of vanilla Haagen-Däsz, and go take a nice warm bubble bath. 😉

    I actually was pretty paranoid my first few months of being pregnant, because getting pregnant in the first place was REALLY HARD and took five years and you don’t want to know how much money for two rounds of donor-egg IVF (I had lost both ovaries to cancer by the time I was 25, and didn’t succeed in conceiving the old-fashioned way in the two years between getting married and having that second ovary removed, so …). I didn’t have morning sickness really at all, which in retrospect was awesome but at the time seemed like a Sign That Something Was Wrong; I did have breakthrough bleeding throughout my first trimester, which scared the crap out of me; and because I was under the care of my reproductive endocrinologist until 14 weeks, I had a ton of ultrasounds and such, which on the one hand was cool (thank G-d! a heartbeat! the bleeding isn’t a miscarriage!) but on the other hand gave me more things to worry about. Once I got past that first trimester, and the bleeding stopped, and I started to feel like I could really do this pregnancy thing … it was so much better, and I was SO much less paranoid.

    I lifted stuff. I didn’t eat sushi, but I ate whatever cheese I bloody well felt like eating, and a ton of vanilla soft-serve (both of which a pregnant-at-the-same-time colleague told me I ABSOLUTELY MUST NOT eat, even as she chowed down on tuna sandwiches every day because everything else made her sick). Oh, and a tremendous quantity of peanut butter. I didn’t do aerobics, but that’s because I hate aerobics ;). (There are actually prenatal aerobics classes where I live, BTW, so it can’t be all that dangerous.)

    I used to sing in a big concert choir back then, and I kept doing that right up to the middle of July (DD was born at the beginning of August). Four of us were pregnant at the same time, so there was some crowding in my section ;), and considerable competition for the loo. I vividly remember running up four flights of stairs at intermission, our first of four shows of the Brahms Requiem, holding up my ankle-length skirt and taking two steps at a time to get to the ladies’ room first — I blew right past a baritone on the stairs who said, “Should you be doing that in your condition?” and I called back down, “It’s either this, or pee right here on the stairs!!” 😀

    Oh, and I kept working until a week before my due date, too. There was air conditioning at work, and none in our apartment…

    Anyway, DD was born the day after her due date, and she’s fine.

  127. B. Durbin December 31, 2009 at 5:05 am #

    I forgot to mention on the whole “lying on your back” thing—

    The nurses told us that you figure out when it’s time to stop lying on your back because you get uncomfortable very quickly. The pressure on the vena cava causes dizziness, leg tingling, etc.

    They ALSO mentioned that you feel these things long before any harm comes to your baby, and even if you’re asleep the discomfort will either cause you to wake up or to move naturally. Just as well, as I keep waking up with my hips flat and a cat draped across my legs, anchoring me down, belly still of to the side.

  128. Otto Henderson December 31, 2009 at 6:28 am #

    Ha! I love the obsession with pregnancy this culture has developed! My mother drank, smoked and I was exposed to radioactivity from nuclear testing while in the womb! In. The. Womb.
    I am a Summa Cum Laude graduate in mathematics and a Cum Laude graduate in nursing. I am physically fit (have some wiring problems with the heart, but so does everyone else in the family) and am told I look much younger than I am.
    No one seems to notice the third eye, but that’s okay…
    Seriously, I am fine even though my mother did everything, and I mean everything, wrong according to today’s ‘knowledge.’
    But the scare tactics drum up the bucks and in the end, I think that’s the only reason this crap gets spread around.
    Remember the scene in Monty Python’s ‘The Meaning Of Life’? Where all the male doctors pooh-poohed the mother in labor because *they* knew what they were doing and *she* didn’t?
    Same crapola here.

  129. LSM December 31, 2009 at 7:24 am #

    My youngest child is 10, and many of the current warnings weren’t in effect when I was pregnant. I guess it’s a good thing I don’t like sushi, but I certainly ate more than a little deli meat during three pregnancies. In the course of those same pregnancies I went to having one or two caffeinated drinks in my entire first pregnancy to having one or two a day by my third. The kids are all fine!

    My favorite advice came from my doctor when I asked him about doing exercises on my back while pregnant. I’d been warned against it. He said, “Well, the thing people worry about is the weight of the baby cutting off the blood flow to your brain. If that starts happening, you’ll get dizzy. So, if you get dizzy, roll over!”

  130. Gail December 31, 2009 at 9:21 am #

    I’m laughing at some of what’s been written here. People are mentioning all kinds of not-to-do’s that I never heard about when I was pregnant!

    @Maureen and Nicola, ordinary breastfeeding sites don’t hold a candle to some of the people on the Breastfeeding After Reduction site. Man talk about pressure.

    I eventually came up with a very handy line: “Thank you for your concern.” It works in many different situations and can be said with varying levels of politeness.

  131. dahozho December 31, 2009 at 10:55 am #

    Relax and enjoy as much as possible! If you’re a sushi lover, soft cheese lover, etc.– indulgence shouldn’t be an issue!

    If you are having a normal pregnancy, please don’t stress about every little thing. Enjoy, keep walking or swimming or with the yoga, etc. I had a pregnancy fraught with risk factors that just kept coming– gestational diabetes at 12 weeks (so no splurging for me, as I became the poster child at my perinatologists for blood sugar control), going to modified bed rest/pre-eclampysia, etc. By the end, my goal was to stay out of the hospital bedrest ward and at home until it was time for delivery. But I did manage to keep working at home and even trundle to the grocery store the day I delivered. Just listen to your body & baby moving around. Most people’s instincts are better than they think, one just needs to pay attention.

    But I had a full-term,healthy, active baby boy, now 21 months. Those websites and “discussion groups” online– just ditch them. I never found them in the least helpful, and some “moderators” just dispensed downright *dangerous* advice (along the whole “alternative” medicine/foods route). I’d looked at the “what to expect” books long before I became pregnant and wasn’t impressed then. The Mayo Clinic guide is good, another poster also recommended it (although it didn’t have any info on two of my risk factors).

    Remember, this is YOUR baby. YOU are in charge, the parent. Just as in ‘regular’ life, everything in moderation is just fine. People open their mouths and say ridiculous things– just smile, nod, and get on with your day. There’s no such thing as a “perfect” pregnancy, so enjoy the one you’re having. And the sleep. Really really enjoy the sleep, even with the expanding belly. (My toddler still doesn’t sleep much…) Oh, as for nursing? Hagen Daas really helps boost milk production. :) And cold compresses when the milk is coming in. Not warm.

  132. FrumDad December 31, 2009 at 11:44 am #

    I’m just a little sad that all the people who are commenting here are so rational. I was really hoping that someone would take my original comment seriously and get all upset.

    I guess it says good things about the crew that shows up at the site, but then again, these are probably not the people who are giving the mama-to-be a hard time.

  133. Jen C December 31, 2009 at 12:01 pm #

    I’ll be the only one on here to somewhat defend the “What to Expect…” book. I didn’t follow the advice, but there were some things in there that helped out (like not freaking out over the tar poopies as opposed to my then-hubby, who didn’t read it!) LOL Take the facts of pregnancy out of the book, and leave the Nazi-like diet tips and such alone.

  134. Nemo December 31, 2009 at 10:55 pm #

    If you do not drink more than very little alcohol and don’t smoke, the kid will be fine.
    Try to rest and sleep more, if you can. All your nourishing blood flows to the placenta when you relax, and big babies are SO easy to care for.

  135. BMS January 1, 2010 at 12:06 am #

    My kids are both adopted. I had zero control over the pregnancy. Their birthmother ate whatever she could afford, and worked as a housekeeper to feed herself and her other children until the last minute. For my second son’s pregnancy, she actually got some prenatal vitamins. My oldest son was 5 lb 4 oz at birth, and has some discolored dental enamel due to poor prenatal nutrition. But otherwise? They are perfectly fine. No allergies, mild asthma in one kid, astigmatism in the other. Normal, average, generally healthy kids, without me obsessing over whether they got Mozart at 15 weeks gestation or whether or not I was in the same state as a smoker, or anything like that. Somehow, they survived being born in a third world country without anyone reading ‘What to expect’ and wringing their hands. So chances are, if my kids can come out fine, then the average US baby will come out fine too.

  136. Tara January 1, 2010 at 1:50 am #

    I think a lot of the no-nos come from a misunderstanding of actual potential risks. Like no baths (after your water breaks) or no fish (really no shark or swordfish) or limit caffeine (don’t chug an entire bottle of Mt. Dew). It’s easier for people to hear a warning and make it into a blanket never-ever-ever statement than to understand and avoid the real risk.

    And the irony of course, is that studies show a correlation between mom’s prenatal stress and the kid’s sensitivity to stress (which in turn affects so much throughout life). So the *best* thing you could do for your un-born child is to relax.

  137. diedre January 1, 2010 at 5:39 am #

    I’m 9 months pregnant and was at the local indoor pool/water park with my 2 year old and we went down the big, windy water slide together and about half the people there were horrified when I emerged from the water and the other half were cheering me on. (Please note that it drops you into some pretty deep water so there is no chance of a big BANG when I landed). Anyway- my point is that using your critical thinking skills is the way to survive gestating and parenthood. I think the point is that there is a ton of common sense you already posess but we’re rendered so insecure we cant make normal decisions anymore. Look at the info and decide for yourself….and then have that small glass of wine with the brie 😉

  138. Robin January 1, 2010 at 7:23 am #

    Huh. I’m just about 31 weeks in and had no idea about the soft cheese. (Oh well, too late now. . . ) Didn’t think about the sushi either. I did agree to not drink raw milk so that I wouldn’t stress out my husband. People do try to prevent me from lifting things, but they all seem to be people who struggle to lift things that are not heavy when you are young and healthy. My mom and mil seem to have forgotten all the things that they themselves did while having us (like sledding and tree-removal).

  139. Julie January 1, 2010 at 7:29 am #

    I ate sushi, drank diet coke, toasted each trimester with a glass or red wine (and each week of my third pregnancy), rode my bike, did step-aerobics and kick boxing, ran, drank coffee, ate whatever I wanted, slept on my back, and sat it a hot tub.

    When my kids were born, they were in a baby jogger at four weeks, the bike trailer at two weeks (bungee cords and the carseat), and hiked in the rain from the time I could get up and out. On the way home from the hospital with my third, we went to a Christmas party (can’t beat the free babysitting from my parents!) I have a deep distrust of band wagons and I did what was comfortable and made sense to me. My kids are all great.

  140. Tracey R January 1, 2010 at 11:01 pm #

    @Stephanie–that’s really hilarious. My 10-year-old pre-pro ballerina daughter does not yet weigh 80 lbs. and she’s almost 5′ tall! Her big brother didn’t hit 80 lbs. until he was 12. We do have a car seat that tops out at 80 lbs., but the way it’s made, my 5-year-old is almost out of it (and she weighs 38 lbs.) because her head is almost above the top edge of its seat.

    I always had this really icky feeling about those books. I like Dr. Sears’ books much better.

    We do “traditional nutrition” at our house, because that’s how I grew up eating and that’s how I feel the healthiest. I ate tons of Vietnamese and Mexican food when I was pregnant with the first two, and lots of “traditional” European food with the last one: sauerkraut, beet kvass, kefir–and raw milk cheese and other fermented foods. The last one is my healthiest child.

    My best advice: go way back to when everyone was free-range and common sense, tempering it with today’s science. Get a certified professional midwife–they have reams more practical field knowledge than most OBs have (my first two were delivered by OBs, with several iatrogenic medical interventions; the last was delivered by a CPM with no interventions needed). If nothing else a CPM will cut through the bull based on real experience and the collective experience of the field.

  141. bitter almond January 2, 2010 at 1:20 am #

    I’m 18 weeks pregnant, and I teach 8th grade English. I have 13-14 year old STUDENTS trying to tell me things I do that are “bad for the baby.” I’ve lost patience with the whole thing and have taken to telling the kids that people who can’t remember to indent their paragraphs don’t get to tell me how to care for a fetus.

    They also want me to name the baby Kanye.

  142. Jamie January 2, 2010 at 7:14 am #

    My husband and I welcomed our first child just 3 weeks ago today. I was tormented my entire pregnancy for doing all sorts of terrible things, including but not limited to, eating lunch meat and carrying things heavier than a piece of paper.

    She was born 4 days past due, a healthy 7.12lbs, 21inches, full head of hair and apgar scores of 9 and 9. Today she’s eating, sleeping, pooping and working her head and neck muscles like a champion.

    When people comment at how she looks and acts more like a 3 month old than a 3 week old….I simply say thank you, it must have been all the booze and sushi I ate while I was pregnant.

    My advice (probably repeating alot of what has alread been said)…1) avoid google at all costs, nothing will drive a new, expectant parent more crazy than reading horror stories about the one person who drank tap water and ended up miscarrying.

    2) Practice smiling and nodding…this is good to practice anyway, because its not like the advice stops when you have the baby.

    3) Know that you’re not alone, there are women out there who are not insane when they are pregnant and who believe that using common sense and moderation is really all you can do, and the rest is a crap shoot.

  143. Anna January 3, 2010 at 6:22 am #

    Hi, this will be my first time commenting! This is a subject that cracks me up and, at the same time, annoys the heck out of me.

    My son is 7 years old now and has no health issues whatsoever. In spite of that, I’ve had women *freak out* at me over what I did and didn’t do during my pregnancy. (And yeah, I’ll admit it. Sometimes, I relish sharing just to see the reaction of the pregnant helicopter questioning me.)

    I had blue cheese and half a glass of chardonnay almost every day throughout my first trimester. I had a hot bath everyday. I stood, sat or laid down whenever I felt like it. I walked at least a mile or two everyday. I once had a man get downright angry on the bus when I said “no thanks” to his offer to pull down the ‘handicap’ seat. The bus wasn’t full and I had been sitting for 15min at the bus stop- my body wanted to stand. I wore nothing but chunky, two and half inch heeled shoes. Oh, and I didn’t take any vitamins, pre-natal or otherwise. My OB told me not to bother since I was craving healthier foods than I ever wanted before. And she didn’t freak about my stranger cravings. I craved the smell of shoe polish and actually carried a small tin with me at all times. She said as long as I wasn’t huffing it or eating it, why worry?

    Pregnancy really agreed with me and I really think listening to my body and intuitively listening to my unborn son were the keys. I really just continued with those attitudes after the birth. I was SO proud when, at his first birthday party, he ate his first handful of dirt!

  144. Anna January 3, 2010 at 7:01 am #

    Oh yeah, and my mother, who had a high-risk pregnancy with me back in the ’70’s at age 35, advised me to keep my toe- and fingernails painted throughout my last trimester. She said I’d just feel much better for it once I was in the hospital feeling ‘less than perky.’

  145. bachic January 3, 2010 at 12:24 pm #

    When my mother was pregnant with me she thought she had gone into labor… she went to the hospital, and they told her I wasn’t ready yet- to go home, have a glass of wine, and come back the next day. I have a very successful job, graduated summa cum laude from college, and was the valedictorian of my high school class. You are going to be fine! Have a great time with the baby!

  146. Randi January 3, 2010 at 6:04 pm #

    I am about 4 weeks away from my big day, I have had two miscarriages… Neither of which was caused by caffiene, alcohol, exercise, or anything other than I didn’t know I was pregnant and I was still taking BC. I have read so many books and online articles telling me what to do and how to act, and dress, and eat, and BREATH! Guess what, the key-term is moderation, as with everything else in life. Do things in moderation and you will be fine. I am on no specific diet, exercise program, or anything else. I take my pre-natals and my doctor has said that considering my past difficulties I have the most perfect pregnancy she has ever seen!

  147. Jen Connelly January 6, 2010 at 12:40 am #

    The carseat thing drives me nuts. I’ve personally weighed the odds and decided to turn my kids when I did. The whole extended rear facing thing became popular when my oldest kids were toddlers and the advice was keep them rear facing until 30-35lbs (the limit on most convertible seats back then). The annoying thing was they only considered the average sized child and assumed you’d be turning them by 2 1/2 or whatever.

    My oldest child is tiny. She didn’t hit 30lbs until she was about 4 1/2-5 years old and wasn’t 35lbs until she was 6 1/2. She’s 9 1/2 (10 in June) and only weighs 45lbs. She’s still in a booster (backless) despite laws in our state that say it’s legal for her to be out of it and we did keep her harnessed until she was 6 1/2 and almost 40lbs. We’re still not sure how long she will stay in the booster. She’s only 4′ tall so she physically is too small to not use it. I’m thinking if she is still so tiny by 12 she can move to sitting on a pillow like my mom did while she was driving because she couldn’t see over the steering wheel (even though she was 5’5″ like me).

    I find many of the ERF advocates are as batty as the breastfeeding ones (which I avoid with a passion since I CHOSE to formula feed).

    My one observation over the years is that the worst thing to ever happen to new expecting mothers is the advent of parenting message boards. I posted to my first one when my oldest was 4 months and all through my next 2 pregnancies and was made to feel like crap because I didn’t do things the way the “experts” and books said to do it.

    I joined one with my 4th pregnancy but left within a month because I did everything wrong and no matter what we were discussing (from feeding, diapering, vaccinating, car seats, discipline, etc) I was doing it wrong by their standards and they (the other moms in the group) had no problem ganging up on me to tell me I was a lazy, useless, selfish person for not doing the very best for my children.

    I basically told them to go screw themselves and never went back. I checked on the group once when my daughter was about a year old and the only people still posting there were the “perfect” moms who seemed to be there just to confirm they were doing everything the right way and talking bad about the moms who chose to do things differently then them. Gag.

  148. Lucy January 6, 2010 at 1:17 am #

    I just have to add to all these great comments, the car seat thing annoys the heck out of me. I learned to stand up in the back of a Suburban rocketing down the interstate at 80 miles an hour. How many trips we took (and this was the 70’s) where the parents roused us kids a 4 am, and we promptly crawled into the back of the Suburban, stretched out on the floor and fell asleep again for several more hours.

    I feel so sorry for my kids now, confined to a small space and strapped in tight. They deserve the video games and in car dvd players I would never have bought otherwise.

    I’m sure carseats have saved a lot of lives, but in my microcosm of relatives, we’ve lost two under-two babes in car crashes. One in the 60’s (no carseat) and one in the 2000’s, properly buckled up.

    Go figure.

  149. brandi January 8, 2010 at 3:06 am #

    plug your ears, follow your heart. instinct will lead you in the right direction.

  150. Mary G. January 9, 2010 at 5:22 am #

    “I am terrified… if it starts now, where does it end?”

    LOL! It never ends…once the kid is here there will be all those people who will be happy to scold you about how you are raising your child. I had some old lady yell at me last week in a parking lot because my son didn’t have a hat on.

    I learned my lesson and stay off the internet for the most part, there’s too many people out there with way too much time on their hands trying to tell you how you are ruining your kids life be being a working mom.

    Anyway, try not to worry too much. I ate bacon, worked until 3 days before my due date, helped paint my son’s room, etc. My son is a happy, healthy 4 year old now, no birth defects, no problems. Just be sure to go to all of your doctor’s appointments, remember you’re not really eating for 2 and enjoy your pregnancy!

  151. pregnancy symptoms ivf January 21, 2010 at 2:14 am #

    This is really an excellent post, I really enjoy reading it.

  152. Chain4188 January 22, 2010 at 10:57 pm #

    Pregnancy brings a lot of new changes to a woman’s life – both physical and emotional. Every member of the family starts taking extra care of the diet of expectant mother. It is essential that they take care of her nutrition, for the health of the child is very much dependent on the mother’s diet.

  153. dahlia January 23, 2010 at 7:38 am #

    sorry, there are no guarantees in life. i followed the rules for the most part, though not to any extreme — probably didn’t eat enough vegetables or get enough exercise (still don’t). but i did have every prenatal test to make sure everything was fine. it all came out normal. i felt fine, the pregnancy progressed fine, the birth came early but was otherwise fine –and then my daughter was born with a birth defect. one that would have killed her in an earlier age; fortunately we’re not in an earlier age, and they fixed it and she is TOTALLY fine now too.

    and for a while i blamed myself — what did i do?? was it that glass of wine i had before i knew i was pregnant? was it one too many babyback ribs from chili’s? was it my shocking avoidance of pregnancy yoga?!? then i realized — it was nothing. it was a misfire during the building process. a dropped stitch. no process is foolproof or perfect. this was a universal truth we all understood a few generations ago. but we’ve become so accustomed to the illusion of control that modern life gives us that we’ve become responsible for EVERYTHING that happens to us, and that’s just ridiculous. little of what’s going on in there is in your hands. so you may as well relax.

    avoid smoking crack and perhaps sky diving. other than that, really, it’ll be fine.

  154. Maggie January 27, 2010 at 6:04 am #

    Ah, the pregnancy police. They never change, do they? They drove me absolutely mad when I was pregnant. So much so that I IGNORED THEM (if I wasn’t pointedly snarking them about perhaps having some manners and minding their own damned business).

    It was just better for my blood pressure.

    My doc had exactly one restriction for me: “Back away from the coffeepot!” My coffee intake was measured in pots per day, and he found that bothersome and potentially blood-pressure destroying. So I had no caffeine. But I had Great Lakes fish and sushi and soft cheese and the occasional half a glass of wine with my dinner. I took hot baths – with BUBBLES, even! – continued to work 12 hour days in a busy restaurant, and in general just went about my usual life, just…pregnantly.

    The Monsters seem fine. Elder is nearly 18, younger is nearly 14, and they don’t seem to have sprouted extra appendages or be missing any eyes or vital organs.

    Relax. Enjoy your life. Ignore both the pregnancy police AND the parenting police (I can’t decide which is more obnoxious!) and just go on about your days. It’s a lot less stressful that way.

  155. Floyd Stearns January 27, 2010 at 11:11 am #

    Nearly 68 years ago, I was adopted as an infant. Then two years later, I suffered a ruptured appendix. Probably due to something my bio-mom had for dinner.

  156. Christine February 9, 2010 at 5:09 am #

    I literally threw WTEWYE across the room after I cracked it open for the first time to a random page and read “We don’t have any evidence that coloring your hair harms the fetus, but we don’t have any evidence that it’s GOOD for the fetus, so sorry, Mom, but it’s just one more sacrifice you’re going to have to make.” My blood pressure shot up so high reading that, that I’m surprised I didn’t go into preterm labor. The only thing that saved me was knowing that the book was a hand-me-down and I hadn’t contributed to the personal fortune of its author.

    So we preggos are supposed to give up everything that has not been proven to be beneficial to the baby even if there’s no evidence that it’s harmful?… I refuse. The amount of love I feel for this little guy kicking my bladder is better measured by my determination to raise him to engage intellectually with the world around him than by mindless acts of pointless martyrdom.

    “If we haven’t proven it’s good, you have to stop doing it” is the easily the most incredibly irrational, anti-intellectual, anti-scientific, anti-common sense rationale I have ever read for ANYTHING and yet I think that it’s the keystone philosophy for the pregnancy police. Inherited wisdom from a society ravaged by lawsuits. Never mind that we happily ignore the risks of things that it would it just be too damned difficult to give up, like car travel or walking. Life is full of risk! Brimming with risk! Suck it up! Put on your big girl panties (and maternity panties are indeed big) and deal. You can babyproof your entire house top to bottom and then have it be hit by lightning two hours later. So put the knives out of reach, install smoke detectors, and lock up the drano when the baby starts crawling, and then just do the best you can.

    I’m 26 weeks pregnant and last night I drank the first beer of this pregnancy and watched the Saints win their first ever Superbowl and my baby merrily kicked before, during, and after. Still kicking this morning. And I don’t feel the least bit bad about it. Sorry, WTEWYE. By the way, if I feel like coloring my hair, I’ll do that, too. I’ll stop short of drinking the dye if it’s any consolation.

    Besides, I can’t prove that reading WTEWYE is good for my baby… and the 30 seconds of elevated blood pressure it caused *might* actually be harmful. I’m afraid it’s just one more sacrifice that I’m going to make.

  157. MamaCas February 10, 2010 at 2:02 am #

    I have 4 perfectly healthy, perfectly happy, perfectly average children and by no means did I “do” their pregnancies “perfectly”. And it dawned on me one day that these fetuses and infants are a LOT more resilient than we give them credit for. And that a woman’s body (in most cases) knows exactly what it’s supposed to do. Please, new Mommas, relax and try to enjoy the process. And learn how to smile politely and nod when someone offers you a piece of advice that makes your toes curl.

  158. IVF Symptoms March 13, 2010 at 4:08 am #

    Sometimes pregnancy can be difficult to achieve I enlisted the help of IVF to finally help me conceive and I am so glad I did, I finally have my baby girl that I have always dreamed about.

  159. Lose Weight Fast and Easy March 15, 2010 at 3:45 pm #

    Sally, you are absolutely correct, it shows that you’re an authority on the subject. I admire someone that takes the pride you have and with your projecton of information. oSo when i actually do sit down to read material, I appreciate well written and organized blogs like this one. I have it bookmarked and will be back. Thanks.

  160. ssamrej March 25, 2010 at 12:40 pm #

    There are a number of different toys today that do not engage children to think or be imaginative for that matter and most of the time these toys only act as electronic babysitters in a way that they can distract the children for a couple of hours or so. When a child plays with Jurassic park toys, he or she has creative control over what will be shown as he or she arranges and plays with the toy http://onbabyshop.com/ offer a lot of toy for your lovely baby such as Baby’s First Blocks baby apparel, car seats, strollers,gear ,baby feeding I like this too.

  161. Chicago mover June 9, 2010 at 3:36 pm #

    Great post.

    Very informative.

    I read all the comment.But the below one impressed me a lot.

    The person who wrote “what to except when you’re expecting” obviously did not ever experience morning sickness, all day nausea, and food aversions during pregnancy. A better title for that book would be “what to worry about when you’re expecting”.

  162. Caroline July 11, 2010 at 5:41 am #

    Thank The Lord (or whoever you believe in) for this site!
    I have been worrying myself sick over Internet advice for so long! I’ve been trying to follow so many rules that are just sometimes ridiculous and impractical. I still change the kitty litter – because if left to my husband it would get done maybe once a week. My theory is it’s better for me to change it daily wearing gloves, than have the little buggers spread their cr## around my laundry!
    I don’t however, drink the unpasturised milk my husband brings home each day (we are Dairy Farmers) because I can’t stand the taste. I also told him preggers women can’t go in the milking shed – fortunately he doesn’t spend his time searching for info on the net so he’ll never know I made it up!
    Time only will tell if my baby will be healthy – chances are the poor bugger will have crap eyesight and some sort of allergy because I do. Also probably a fairly neurotic personality, again because I do!
    Thanks for helping me relax.

  163. car review September 9, 2010 at 5:20 pm #

    I had my children in 99 and 02 and those What To Expect When You’re Expecting books were huge. They suck. Every problem imaginable listed month by month. I only kept it because it had a good list of milestones each month. Read The GirlFriend’s Guide to Pregnancy. Funny and real.

  164. Wendell Brisbane November 22, 2010 at 9:49 pm #

    Could the developer of this site contact me a.s.a.p – I may be able to help you out.

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