The Pressure to Get Parenting Exactly “Right” — Starting from Pregnancy

Hi dbhnzazyht
Folks! I was just reading the latest from the amazing Centre for Parenting Culture Studies in Kent, England, and found this piece by Zoe Williams, author of the new book The Madness of Modern Parenting.  (Then I ended up reading some other stuff by her, like this. So fun!) This piece ran in The Guardian. Go Zoe! (Boldface mine.)

The Madness of Modern Parenting, by Zoe Williams

Plainly, something is up with the business of parenting, the way we parent, the things that are now perceived as minimum parenting standards…. [I]t has become something that one does well or badly, the judgment of which is determined by yardsticks that claim, via medicine or neuroscience, to be definitive, yet are one titchy study from the University of Utah away from refutation. The atmosphere is febrile with disapproval: all normal understanding of acceptable risk, never mind the understanding that behaviour might reasonably differ from one individual to another, is suspended.

Before I became embroiled in reproduction myself, I just assumed this was something driven by expectant mothers: they seemed to enjoy all the rules, the cheese they weren’t allowed to eat, the alcohol they gleefully eschewed. “I’ve lost the taste for it anyway,” they would say of coffee, in a conversation about whether or not caffeine genuinely harmed the foetus or whether that was a myth, repeatedly disproven, but tenaciously maintained by yoga teachers and strangers….

When I got pregnant myself, I realised that this drive towards obedience, the need to prove that you will create, instinctively, the healthiest possible womb-environment for your foetus, doesn’t come from you: it comes from outside.

Risks during pregnancy are so overstated now that the British Pregnancy Advisory Service reports women requesting abortions because they’re so anxious about their alcohol intake in the weeks before they realised they were pregnant. Self‑appointed, two-man-and-a-dog operations periodically issue new rules about how fat you can be…

Read the rest here. And if you found yourself judged or terrified as a pregnant woman, take heart: Maybe we are beginning to realize how rigid (and often wrong) the “musts” have been. – L.

I'm crying because my mom ate a piece of soft cheese six months ago!

I’m crying because my mom ate a wedge of soft cheese six months ago!

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74 Responses to The Pressure to Get Parenting Exactly “Right” — Starting from Pregnancy

  1. Brooks December 9, 2014 at 10:38 am #

    Ha! I love it. I remember when my wife was pregnant and we were reading the obligatory “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” book. I came across this gem….one on page, there was all this praise of broccoli and how much should be eaten, etc. On the very same page, opposite side, was a statement about how many trace metals can be found in broccoli and to avoid it. The same freakin piece of paper! Never read another word.

  2. Coccinelle December 9, 2014 at 10:46 am #

    Clearly! When the first of my friends got pregnant, she refused to eat raw eggs, raw cheese, sushi and surely more stuff I don’t remember. But the thing is, if you want to avoid listeriosis, you need to stop eating deli meat and raw vegetables too. I can’t imagine living 9 months while eating everything cooked!

    I guess everything is a question of risk, but who am I to know if raw vegetables are a lower risk than raw eggs?

  3. Emily Morris December 9, 2014 at 11:26 am #

    I stayed with many of the myths during my pregnancy, until a few venerable sources, including my doctor, put me on the right track. My doctor even had literature on what was truly to be avoided, what should simply be moderated, and what is pure old wive’s tales–with data to back it up.

    I’m a sushi lover. I thought I would have to give it up. People mentioned the natives who had been eating raw fish for eons and who somehow managed to reproduce. My doctor laughed about it and told me maybe three types of fish to avoid in my sushi.

    A friend is recently pregnant. She avoided sushi for all of five minutes… then actually read up on the danger.

  4. gina December 9, 2014 at 11:30 am #

    Emily–My OB too…He said “Japanese women get pregnant and have healthy babies every day.” IMHO we should all stop reading “how to” books and just enjoy our pregnancies and our kids. We all have better instincts than we realize.

  5. no rest for the weary December 9, 2014 at 11:59 am #

    Seems to be a general consensus that because in this insanely wealthy and privileged culture we’ve eradicated 99.9% of all the causes of pre-natal, birth-related, post-natal, and childhood causes of death, then there’s NO EXCUSE to be less than 150% obsessed with doing EVERYTHING HUMANLY POSSIBLE to ensure that YOUR PRECIOUS CHILD does not fall to that remaining .1% still lurking out there.

    Never mind that it means a life of limiting enjoyable activities, interacting with and building community, and quality of life in general… not to mention retarding your child’s ability to make independent decisions and develop creative problem-solving skills… nah, keep them alive, and pride yourself on being obsessed with their possible death or harm.

    Whee. Fun times.

  6. Michelle December 9, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

    In my last pregnancy, I gave up whiskey but not the occasional hard cider. Yep, I drank alcohol in moderation, ON PURPOSE, knowing I was pregnant. Shocking. I also took up drinking coffee. Never drank it before, but I wanted to start getting up early and spending some special time with my coffee-loving husband before he went to work in the mornings. I avoided soft cheese as a concession, and certain types of sushi, but I kept eating deli meat so I’m not sure what the point was. I made no effort to limit the amount of weight I gained, and my only real attempt at changing my diet was to eat more fruits and vegetables. I figured eating more good stuff would crowd out some of the empty calories. Worked for me. I have a healthy almost 1 year old, a healthy me, and a new taste for coffee. 😉

  7. Michelle December 9, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

    PS, there’s also an emphasis on a perfect birth. I know a lot of people are familiar with the stereotype of the all-natural hippie momma trying to plan the perfect, peaceful, pain-free (through hypnosis) birth, but there’s also a lot of us just trying to escape an attempt by doctors to create a “perfect” birth by freaking out over every tiny possibility of risk. Just like schools removing playground equipment because they’re afraid of being sued when a kid falls down, there are doctors trying to control every aspect of pregnancy and birth for fear of getting sued over less-than-ideal outcomes. I don’t need you to freak out because I gained 5 pounds more than you think I should (after starting out 10 pounds underweight), or try to scare me about the possibility of getting stuck in traffic on the way to the hospital, or deprive me of food just in case there’s a chance of a risk of a possibility of a complication, or push me into surgery because something MIGHT go wrong later.

  8. gina December 9, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

    My absolute pet peeve about delivery is the pushing for hours…it seems to be a mark of pride to push for more hours…I don’t get it. Do doctors think that if women don’t push the baby will stay inside? I pushed three or four times with each of my babies (5) and they all came out! What a surprise. Why do they make women start pushing as soon as they hit the 10 centimeter mark?

  9. SOA December 9, 2014 at 12:36 pm #

    Its easy for very fertile women to throw caution to the wind when it comes to this stuff. I know some uber fertile women and sure drinking coke every day did not hurt the baby at all.

    But then you have women you are fragile when they are pregnant or have infertility and yes, they often can and will miscarry at the drop of a hat with even one little thing going wrong.

    I was the latter so I did have to follow every rule about what to eat and what to do. I slept on the side they told me to. I only ate what they told me to. I gained the exact amount of weight I was told to gain on schedule. I did not take any over the counter meds.

    Because guaranteed if I slipped up, I would lose the pregnancy as I had done multiple times before.

    So this is one of those things to me that depends on the person. Some women are invincible and some just aren’t. So it is up to that woman and her doctor what risks they are willing to take or not take.

  10. Vicky December 9, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

    When pregnant with my son, he’s thirty three now, the doctor told me to drink a glass of red wine a day for our health. Of course I didn’t listen to his advice, I was too modern and savvy. I’d read Dr. Spock’s book and knew better than he. five months after giving birth I was pregnant again and let me tell you, all those books went in the garbage! It’s a travesty that PC society has taught mothers they are not qualified to be mothers! Of course they are! No two are exactly alike but left to our own devices babies grow up to be adults regardless.

  11. Michelle December 9, 2014 at 12:50 pm #

    SOA, two things about that.

    First, just like with anything, of course there are special circumstances under which a person must be more careful. It’s like the difference between a baby in the NICU (or released but still fragile) having special monitoring, and using those at-home monitors on a perfectly healthy baby because we are all afraid of the unknown and the uncertainty of life. One is a reasonable precaution, the other is paranoia.

    Secondly, if you ate deli meat, and you did not get listeria, and you lost your baby, you did not lose your baby because of deli meat. And unless you are eating deli meat and getting listeria over and over again, it is not the cause of multiple pregnancy losses. On the one hand, if you know the cause of repeated losses, OF COURSE avoid that thing. And if you don’t know, it’s totally understandable that you are going to take every precaution you can. On the other hand, the slew of rules and must-dos and must-avoids is often a double-edged sword in cases like yours. It’s a magic talisman to avoid a loss (“If only I follow all the rules, I can keep this baby”), and it’s undeserved and unnecessary blame that mothers heap on themselves for “causing” something that very likely wasn’t their fault.

  12. Rachel Hoffman December 9, 2014 at 12:50 pm #

    I struggled to gain weight with my pregnancies and raw milk, raw eggs, blue cheese and sushi were things I could eat. And red wine because it would help me eat twice what I would usually eat. The small/nil risk was not as high as consuming 1200 calories a day while pregnant. I don’t even have an eating disorder, pregnancy hormones only let me feel “hungry” when my blood sugar was very, very low.

  13. Beth December 9, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

    Dolly, I’m sorry for your struggles (I had multiple miscarriages too), but in no way was it “guaranteed” that if you had even one slice of cheese, you would lose the pregnancy.

  14. Michelle December 9, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

    “Dolly, I’m sorry for your struggles (I had multiple miscarriages too), but in no way was it “guaranteed” that if you had even one slice of cheese, you would lose the pregnancy.”

    ^ That longish post I just wrote? I wish this is what I had said. Put so much better. I only lost two of mine, so I can’t really know how you must feel. I can only imagine. But what I was trying to say is that there’s no guarantee. No guarantee that one slip up would cause a loss, and no guarantee that following the rules would prevent one. It’s often completely out of our hands.

  15. Coccinelle December 9, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    I think you all raised a good point. Women needs to be told that it’s normal to have a miscarriage and it’s only the way nature gets rid of a embryo that for a reason or another has a problem and won’t be able to reach full term. Sure, there are some women that are prone to miscarriage more than others but if your embryo has a severe problem, no amount of caution in what you eat will save it. Pregnancy is a really complex process and many things can go wrong. It just that the vast majority of things that can go wrong are not the women’s fault at all.

  16. Cynthia812 December 9, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

    I saw this hilarious video the other day, and the very first comment on it was one of those people complaining that you should never sleep with your baby, etc, etc. Get a grip, person.

  17. BL December 9, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

    “I think you all raised a good point. Women needs to be told that it’s normal to have a miscarriage”

    I’m not a woman.

    I had heard about how common miscarriages are, and wondered why my own relatives had been so lucky, until a conversation at a family gathering …

    I found out why my father is 11 years older than his only sibling – many miscarriages.

    I found out even my maternal grandmother, who had five children, miscarried between my second uncle and my mother.

    I had never heard of those before.

  18. Donna December 9, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

    This is all just part of the “good mothers are martyrs” complex that surrounds parenting. If parenting doesn’t make you miserable, then you are not doing it right. I think that many people follow all these rules (and helicopter) just so that they can walk around whining about how hard parenting is and how much they sacrifice for their family. Life is just too easy for middle class people today and they have to make up things to struggle over.

  19. Coccinelle December 9, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

    @ BL

    Sorry, it’s just a habit, I guess everybody should be told that. Especially expectant parents. I’m in favour of anything that lessen any guilt. There is so much guilt in our society.

    I recently stumbled upon a very expensive device to change the way pregnant women wear their safety belt in the car. It looks so much like a way to guilt parents into buying it to better be safe than sorry.

  20. Michelle December 9, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

    BL, I have six living biological children, and lost two. My kids only know about one of the losses, because I didn’t want them to have to go through it a second time. My grandmother had — I think — eight losses, including at least one stillbirth and one that lived for a few hours. She had no living biological children (my dad is adopted). Most women I know have had at least one loss.

    The gut-wrenching truth is that, the vast majority of the time, no one knows why. Even with multiple losses, there’s often no clear reason. That makes it unfortunately easy for women to blame themselves.

  21. lollipoplover December 9, 2014 at 1:52 pm #

    “I only ate what they told me to.”

    I ate what my body and the baby growing inside me told me to. Or could tolerate.
    I was so dreadfully sick with all of my pregnancies and when I could finally could eat, I ate what I wanted- without guilt.
    For my son, I turned into a carnivore. I also despised the smell of cigarettes and coffee. I had a weird craving for Lucky Charms. With my daughters, I ate eggs and fish and salads and hated meat. One of them is now a vegetarian, go figure. And they all love Lucky Charms.
    I was also told by several doctors to enjoy a good pint of Guinness while I was pregnant for the iron. I so enjoyed that pint….

  22. Jenny Islander December 9, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

    @Brooks: My midwife called that book “How to Expect Complications.” She said that the graphs and charts are useful, but the rest of it needs blacking out with a marker!

    As for the sashimi thing, I was told that the safest time to eat sashimi and deli sandwiches during pregnancy is the first few weeks after the latest inspection. So I ate California rolls instead.

  23. tana December 9, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

    BL, people don’t realize how common miscarriage is because it is a taboo topic. It hurts too much, it’s too raw, there’s almost no ‘right’ thing to say (so people don’t say anything & that is worse). It makes awkward conversation. But when you research numbers, it will make you look at your surviving children like they’re Harry Potter (my 9 year old did call himself, “the one who made it,” after I miscarried.
    It’s when you’re family suffers a miscarriage that fellow survivors come out of the woodwork to offer comfort, and help, and their own stories, now that you can understand.

  24. Stephanie December 9, 2014 at 2:47 pm #

    I drank wine, I ate sushi, I ate deli meat, and I most definitely ate every piece of cheese in front of me without worrying if it was made from raw milk or not. The second time around I even cleaned my cat’s litter box. My doctor even told me to go on all of the rides at Disneyland as she had just done the same thing a few weeks before (she and I were due at the same time).

    But I have to whisper about it. When I tell my pregnant friends that it’s okay to have a glass of wine, they look at me in horror and say, “Well, you never know what could happen.” I reply, “do you drive in cars? Because that is the riskiest thing you can do to your fetus.”

  25. Warren December 9, 2014 at 3:19 pm #

    When I asked our family doctor about restrictions, for my pregnant wife, he gave me the best advice ever.

    “You trusted her enough to have a child, so keep you mouth shut, and let her do what she feels is best. You will be much happier.”

  26. SOA December 9, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

    You are correct that even following EVERY rule is no guarantee you won’t lose your baby. I know because I did follow the rules and still lost a baby that way. However, when things are fragile and a woman is desperate to have a baby, they will happily follow every rule to give themselves the best possible chance. It also helps because that way if you still lose the baby, at least you know you tried.

    I can live fine without drinking wine, eating deli meat, changing the litter box for 9 months. I don’t think I missed much.

  27. Liz December 9, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

    You know, I really needed this. At first, I was super vigilant with my pregnancy, even buying the diet book made by the “What to Expect” women. Then I read it. There was no way I could ever eat the quantity, nor afford the quality, of the food they were recommending. And then I thought about my sister, who ate nothing but saltines and drank nothing but ginger ale and water when pregnant because her morning sickness was so bad the entire 9 months. And my sister-in-law, who was in the same boat but with a husband who tried to force her to eat the healthy things, which she then threw up. And their babies were healthy, normal and delivered without any complications. I thought about women in poor countries whose diets aren’t even close to what those authors would deem safe. And in that moment, I decided to scrap the whole thing, eat what I wanted and craved and try to do it as best as I could without constantly eating kale (which I still didn’t like).
    And then my son was born 6 weeks premature, with the developmental issues that comes with. The more I visit him in the NICU, the more I started to blame myself for his situation. I hadn’t taken the pregnancy seriously. I was selfish, not doing what I needed to do for him. I had put together bookshelves, squeezed past things, driven above the speed limit, ate candy and taken my prescription medications. It was enough to make me cry from the guilt when I’d leave the hospital. If he was being fussy or cranky, it was my fault for putting him in this situation. His CPAP was my fault, and his feeding tube was my fault.
    I’m trying to keep perspective now. We don’t know why my waters broke at 34 weeks. And if it wasn’t for him underdeveloped lungs he wouldn’t have even gone to NICU. Otherwise, he’s a healthy 5lb boy. He was ready to come out, to the point where his head was in the right position and so low that the doctors couldn’t see it in the ultrasound. But we mothers are conditioned to blame ourselves, even when there’s nothing we can actually point to. Then we come up with dozens of reasons why it’s all our fault.
    I’m glad this writer put this down. It made me feel a lot better.

  28. Laurambp December 9, 2014 at 4:36 pm #

    “…but there’s also a lot of us just trying to escape an attempt by doctors to create a “perfect” birth by freaking out over every tiny possibility of risk.”

    Yep. This is exactly why the stereotypical hippie mom thing has made a resurgence. With rising rates of c-sections and an increased micromanaged environment in the hospital room, women with low-risk and normal pregnancies want the opportunity to trust themselves in giving birth.

  29. Emily Guy Birken December 9, 2014 at 4:39 pm #

    Can we PLEASE quit it with the “pregnant women can’t clean litter boxes” lie? Toxoplasmosis can only be transmitted through ingestion. It is not airborne. So unless you’re in the habit of licking your hands clean after cleaning the litter box, then you’re safe.

    Furthermore, cat owners who have had their pets for any amount of time have already been exposed and have immunity to their particular cat’s Toxo germs.

    And finally, only outdoor cats get/carry Toxoplasmosis, so if Fluffy is solely an indoor animal, then there is NOTHING to worry about.

    I am absolutely certain that there are many many many many other complete lies that we spread about what pregnant women can and cannot do. This happened to be the one I learned about as a pregnant cat-lover (with a husband who was pretty laissez-faire about litter box duty), and I was disgusted. (And my disgust meter is pretty high, considering the fact that I’m on litter box duty.)

  30. pentamom December 9, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

    “Can we PLEASE quit it with the “pregnant women can’t clean litter boxes” lie? ”

    WHY? Why would you want to interfere with a pregnant woman’s attempt to sell a reason to delegate the job of cleaning the litterbox? 😉

    (I agree on the science, I just think, hey, there’s a lot worse things than convincing the rest of your family you’re not allowed to change the litterbox. Not that I actually advocate lying.)

  31. pentamom December 9, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

    lolliplover, I’m with you. I had HG with some of my pregnancies and miserable constant nausea just short of that with the rest. I decided pretty fast that malnourishing myself and the baby was a lot greater risk than the small risks associated with this or that less-than-ideal food. I needed to eat what I could eat, period.

  32. Peter December 9, 2014 at 7:45 pm #

    Actually, my favorite story is a friend’s aunt who smoked about 2 packs a day. When she became pregnant back in the mid-80s, she talked to her doctor. He suggested that she cut down, slowly, but not try to quit cold turkey. The stress on her body from quitting would be worse for the baby than the smoking would be.

    Needless to say, even back then, her friends were aghast when she would light up…

  33. lollipoplover December 9, 2014 at 9:13 pm #

    Pentamom- I think we need to add “Pregnant women shouldn’t change dirty diapers” and “Pregnant women should avoid doing laundry and household cleaning” to the No No lists, like cleaning the litter box. Let’s start spreading those around and see if they catch on.

    As for eating, I think there’s information overload and women stop listening to their own bodies. Your body will give you cues as to what it needs and doesn’t need. We’ve sadly evolved to seek out advise from books and *experts* when our own internal cues are the most valuable.
    I still have memories of my MIL constantly harassing me during my first trimester that I needed to eat for 2 (not true, either) and that my not eating was hurting the baby while she reeked of cigarette smoke and it took all of my strength not to projectile vomit in her face. And that baby was a 10 pounder.

  34. Jennifer December 10, 2014 at 3:18 am #

    The logic used to push a lot of this is “Well, you don’t know. Better safe than sorry. And it’s just X – you can do without X for nine months, can’t you – it’s for the baby”.

    The following is an incomplete list of things pregnant women are supposed to avoid during pregnancy.

    Tobacco, over the counter drugs, prescription drugs, herbal supplements, recreational drugs.

    Raw meat, rare meat, overcooked meat, raw fish, large fish, shellfish, pate, cold meat, soft cheeses, eggs anything short of hard boiled, hot dogs, ground meat, smoked seafood.

    Alcohol, bottled water, tap water, fresh squeezed juice, coffee, tea, caffeine containing soft drinks, artificially sweetened soft drinks, herbal tea, any beverage sold in a plastic bottle.

    Leftovers more than one day old. Buffets and salad bars. Stuffing. Picnics. Unpeeled vegetables and fruit. Premade salads of any sort. Homemade ice cream. Sprouts. Junk food. Fast food. Brown rice.

    High heels. Exercise, swimming pools, saunas, hot-tubs, bicycles. X-rays, electric blankets, water beds, computers, cell phones, microwaves, ultrasounds. Second hand smoke, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, household cleaners, hair dye, hair spray, deodorant, make-up, acne cream, air fresheners, gas stations. Non stick frying pans, plastic, new cars, new furniture, store receipts. Reptiles, cat litter, long grass. Genetically modified food, vitamin A supplements.

    And, of course,


  35. Suzanne Lucas December 10, 2014 at 3:49 am #

    Goodness, the What to Expect books are delightful. I like the Toddler one, where I learned that if my male toddler picks up a doll, I should expect that he’s gay, and that if I make any indication at all that my precious snowflake’s poop stinks, I will irreparably damage his self esteem.

    Ummm, okay.

    Also the pregnancy book says that for a treat (a treat!) a pregnant woman can have some yogurt. Forget that.

  36. Coccinelle December 10, 2014 at 9:18 am #

    “bottled water, tap water”

    Please tell me this is a joke! What women are supposed to drink? Coke?

    “Homemade ice cream. Brown rice. long grass. vitamin A supplements.”

    I would appreciate if you would explain those 4. Just for curiosity’s sake.

    You forgot fresh paint though.

  37. Sandi December 10, 2014 at 10:21 am #

    Liz, just to make you feel better, I had two babies both born at 33 weeks, no idea why except perhaps an undiagnosed bladder infection. They were both about 4.5 lbs and spent a couple of weeks in NICU. Once they left the hospital they never looked back, never had another complication and are healthy, above average in height and academics. It is highly likely that all will be just fine and soon no one would guess he was ever a preemie!

  38. Thea December 10, 2014 at 10:54 am #

    As others have mentioned, those of us for whom fertility or successfully carrying to term, the rules can seem like a safeguard. Except they aren’t. When pregnancy attempt #5 rolled around, I said I wouldn’t stress. I drank a soda a day, at least. I did lose my taste for coffee but I compensated with soda. I don’t do sushi but ate soft cheese and deli meat and froyo. I didn’t do any alcohol but I wouldn’t look down on those who did. And you know what, I’ve got a perfectly healthy almost one year old. My husband said it best about the deli meat hysteria. Unless you are buying your deli meat from a hot van in a seedy neighborhood, your grocery store is going to keep things clean to avoid a PR nightmare. I did get out of cat litter duty though but that’s just laziness.

    And I agree about the “perfect birth” nonsense. Why would you push for hours on end. At an hour and a half of some of the worse upper back spasms of my life, I said enough. Let’s go have a c-section. I’m not doing this crap anymore. Turns out my son’s head was too big to fit, so it would’ve been needed. One of my girlfriends was induced the night before me and had her daughter the day after my son. Why? God no. It’s like a badge of honor to have a horrific (or perfect) labor story. Blech. Give me drugs and get me out of here.

  39. Stacy December 10, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

    My mother-in-law was shocked that my midwife did not tell me to gain no more than twenty pounds and strictly limit my salt intake, because her OB told her in the 1970s that those were the rules. MIL could not believe I was “allowed” to eat French fries. So being hard on pregnant women is nothing knew. However, it was amazing to see the list of “don’t” grow between my first pregnancy and my last. We’re reached a new level of insanity.

    Which reminds me — have you seen the new car seat laws being proposed? I urge everyone to monitor what is happening in their states. Car safety is important but it can be taken too far when made into law.

  40. SOA December 10, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

    Thea: you missed the point that some uber fertile women can drink caffiene and smoke and even drink alcohol and will never have a miscarriage. I have a friend like that. Got pregnant super drunk and on other drugs, drank cokes every day in her pregnancy and ate whatever she wanted and even smoked some. Baby was perfect and perfect pregnancy. But that does not mean that stuff is okay. It just means she is lucky enough to be uber fertile. She probably could have leaped off a two story building and still not miscarried. Same with her second pregnancy.

    But that does not change the fact that women that are NOT like that, such as myself, no way in heck can pull of doing all of that and get away with it. This came from the words of the highly trained reproductive endocrinologist. He told me no caffeine period. No vigorous exercise. Bedrest during implantation time. Extra hormone supplements. And guess what? Still did not always be enough to protect me.

    This is like saying “well I do X y and z and never got cancer so it all must be bunk.” No, it just means you are lucky and don’t have cancer.

    I don’t like anything that minimizes or brushes off infertility and how hard it can be or how fragile it makes things for the women who suffer from it.

  41. hineata December 10, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

    @Thea- good for you! About the c-section I mean. Just ridiculous the pressure to have a ‘natural’ birth. My three kids were all c-section delivery, and only the middle one was a choice (was given the choice to try labour for four hours, after which I would have been sliced anyway, so chose not to bother). Heads were big, pelvis not so much .
    Still had an idiot midwife tell me I must be ‘so disappointed’ not to have given birth ‘naturally’. Uh….no. Actually, never crossed my mind.

    Though fortunately I recognized the comment for the ignorant stupidity it was….I imagine some women probably put a lot of store on competing well in the birth Olympics, and/or are feeling vulnerable, and such comments might be enough to throw them into depression.

  42. Beth December 10, 2014 at 1:28 pm #

    I didn’t realize that fertility had anything to do with the frequency of miscarriages? I was plenty fertile – could get pregnant basically whenever I wanted to. But I lost a lot more babies than I had live births…..

  43. Donna December 10, 2014 at 1:40 pm #

    Dolly – YOU seem to miss the point that NONE of that stuff causes miscarriages. Alcohol MAY cause fetal alcohol syndrome if taken in large amounts, but it does not cause miscarriage. Smoking causes low birth weight babies, it does not cause miscarriage. Gaining too much weight can be dangerous to your health in various ways, but is not a cause of miscarriage. Deli meat (etc) MAY cause miscarriage if, AND ONLY IF, if contains listeria, a very rare bacteria, but has absolutely no health risk in and of itself. Same with the vast majority things listed – they pose a risk because they have slightly higher incidences of containing certain rare bacterium that could be dangerous if encountered while pregnant, but are not dangerous themselves in any way.

    I can certainly see a desire to follow all the rules perfectly if you have had fertility issues. Despite the fact that listeria is extremely rare, I imagine that it would be a massive blow to have a pregnancy survive your body’s own issues with sustaining pregnancy only to be knocked out by a listeria outbreak. But insisting that somehow alcohol or deli meat spontaneously in and of itself CAUSES miscarriages in certain people is just ignorant of the facts.

  44. hineata December 10, 2014 at 1:52 pm #

    Yep, fertility has nothing to do with rates of bringing children to birth. I was the same as you, Beth, seemed to be able to get pregnant whenever I felt like it…and once when I didn’t. Just lucky that I was also then able to stay pregnant. Really is just the way it goes, I certainly did nothing special to remain pregnant. Am sorry to hear that you had some struggles…..hope it worked out that you were still able to have the number of children you wanted in the end :-).

  45. Donna December 10, 2014 at 2:05 pm #

    And I am on the other side of the coin. It was difficult for me to get pregnant, but I had absolutely problems carrying the baby to term once I got there.

  46. Stacy December 10, 2014 at 2:27 pm #

    Childbirth issues are tricky because there’s pressure on both sides, including from doctors who pressure women to make the choices they want them to make. I had to stop watching a birth series on TV after the OBs falsely claimed it’s not possible for a woman with a petite frame to safely deliver a nine pound baby w/o a C-Section. The best thing is when women are given unbiased information and allowed to make the choice that’s best for them and their babies. And for women to respect the choices other women make in delivering their babies.

  47. Papilio December 10, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

    You’d think that all the stress from obsessing over all those rules (and the opinion of everyone else on the planet) alone would be enough to miscarry, or not get pregnant in the first place…

    @BL: It’s strange how people seem to be unwilling to acknowledge that not a single natural process goes right 100% of the time… Anyone with an apple tree or so knows that there are always a few weird ones.
    Anyway, my grandmother was very open about having had a bunch of miscarriages… She didn’t know how many, as most were, of course, in an early stage.
    I think I read somewhere that like 80% of all early miscarriages is caused by nature trying to build in extra ribs in the neck. Try to avoid THAT, pregnant lady…

    @Thea & Hineata: I know I should probably shut up as I don’t have kids yet, but I honestly can’t imagine why anyone would prefer major surgery (with all the extra risks and longer period of recovery) over a natural birth (whether at home or in a hospital) if the latter is perfectly possible…

  48. Emily December 10, 2014 at 4:42 pm #

    One thing stood out to me–the line about yoga teachers telling pregnant women that any amount of caffeine is harmful. I’d like to put that stereotype to rest, because I teach yoga, and while I’m sure there are some of us out there who are driving the sanctimommy brigade (and still others who tell EVERYONE to swear off caffeine, and alcohol, and every small vice), I’m not one of them. I don’t drink alcohol or eat meat myself, but I do drink a lot of coffee and Diet Coke, and I’ve never once told anyone, in any of my classes, to abstain from caffeine, or alcohol, or anything else for that matter. I mean, moderation is good, but I find that so much of the helicopter parenting movement (as well as the health and fitness movement) is about DON’T. DON’T have caffeine, alcohol, sugar, artificial sweeteners, salt, MSG, red food dye, chemicals, blah, blah blah. DON’T let your kids walk to school or play outside alone, or swim without a life jacket and an adult within arm’s reach. Often, these things bleed together–DON’T feed your child any junk food, ever. DON’T let them play with screened devices, DON’T buy them any licensed or gender-specific toys, et cetera. That’s what breeds paranoia, but I find that people respond better to positive reinforcement. So, I tell them that they’re doing something positive for their health by coming to yoga, and I think that that can be extrapolated to parenting. Why not give people affirming messages, like, “You obviously love your child,” or “I can see you want Jimmy and Jane to get fresh air and exercise and become self-reliant, by allowing them to walk to school alone,” and so on, and so forth. I’m not saying that there’s no place for “don’t,” but it shouldn’t be the knee-jerk response for everything.

  49. SOA December 10, 2014 at 7:32 pm #

    There is a correlation between caffeine and miscarriages. It has been documented. Now most uber fertile women probably won’t be bothered by it, but some women who are not mother earth could end up miscarrying a baby due to all that coffee when otherwise, they may not have miscarried.

    and you are wrong-smoking has been linked to preterm birth, miscarriage, asthma and even leukemia

  50. CrazyCatLady December 10, 2014 at 9:39 pm #

    The number of miscarriages that women have (some, more than others,) lead me to fear the people who want to legislate “life begins at birth.” I fear for women (poor in particular) who may have said something to someone about being less than thrilled at first knowledge. If they have miscarriage…they are suspect of killing “life.” When in fact, as too many women know, life can begin at any time…and end at any time.

  51. CrazyCatLady December 10, 2014 at 9:45 pm #

    And then there is my friend. (Whom I am finding through FB is much more bigotted than I had thought, leading me to not really want to be “friends.”) But anyhow, she is a new grandma. And she is posting things about babies who die apparently from vaccines.

    The most recent one is a collage of photos…one a smiling but very small baby who was born premature. And then two photos of the dead “angle” baby in mother’s arms and in the casket.

    I know my friend is thinking that she is keeping her grandson “safe” but she is scaring her daughter. And her daughter and her husband are the ONLY ones who can make that decision to vaccinate or not. I feel that if my friend keeps this up, she will not be allowed to see her grandson because she is the “kooky” grandmother who meddles.

  52. CrazyCatLady December 10, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    That should read “life begins at conception.” I blame my hunger for that misprint! (After dinner I can read it correctly.)

  53. SKL December 11, 2014 at 12:27 am #

    I have no idea what (if anything) my kids’ moms were eating while pregnant. Or what toxic chemicals my kids were exposed to. Or whether their moms worked 16 hour days at hard physical labor. One of my kids was even born in a poor, unsanitary shack with no doctor around.

    My kids’ foster families didn’t follow any of the child development guidelines either. And as for me, once they came into my care, I was a rebel. I kept them away from the doctors, let them sleep on their bellies, didn’t medicate their fevers, let them sleep (without a monitor) in drop-side cribs, and let them wear coats in their car seats. I potty-trained early, put them in daycare, and even spanked.

    Oh well, amazingly my kids are turning out just fine.

    I really hate what we do to expecting and young mothers.

  54. hineata December 11, 2014 at 5:29 am #

    @Papilo -personally I rocked up to the hospital the first time expecting a normal delivery. Didn’t work out that way, and after 36:hours with a 2 hour nap in between, listening to other people screaming while nothing was going on, despite lots of intervention, skyrocketing blood pressure and the prospect of another 48 hours in intense labour, I was more than happy to be told by the surgeon that the knives were coming out. Recovery was fine, too.

    The women in my family too seem to specialize in longer labour. there was little point the second time opting to ‘try’ labour for 4 hours. The shortest I could find among my relies was 18 hours. My own mum was 72 hours with me, the first 48 in 5 minute apart contractions, the last 12 spent being walked around the ward between my dad and a nurse while she convulsed. Stuffed if I know what happened to the missing 12 hours, but supposedly they were rather unpleasant:-).

    The point of all that isn’t to freak you out, lol, as the history is a bit unusual, just to say that there can be worse ways to deliver than the odd slice :-). Women used to die regularly from the natural process that is childbirth. For normal situations, go for it! But I love that complicated births can now be achieved more safely. And I refuse to let the natural birth ‘Nazis’ – which I know you’re not being 🙂 – reduce my joy at having a live healthy baby with me…. :-).

    Also I really enjoyed the drugs :-).

  55. SOA December 11, 2014 at 7:35 am #

    Crazycatlady: some states like Georgia have already tried to pass laws that make women report miscarriages to police. Which of course is completely insane. The pro life people are willing to hurt infertile people in their quest to make abortion illegal. I love how people who are already suffering so much are being used as pawns to them.

  56. Buffy December 11, 2014 at 7:51 am #

    Dolly, PLEASE stop equating fertility with miscarriages. “Uber fertile” (that’s insulting, btw) women can have as many miscarriages as, um, less fertile ones.

  57. Donna December 11, 2014 at 8:57 am #

    Dolly – Your idea that there are some “uber fertile” people out there who can do anything, but the rest of the population is just one deli sandwich or glass of wine away from miscarriage at all times is ridiculous. Yes, a very small percentage of the female population has serious difficulty in sustaining pregnancy. It has absolutely nothing to do with what they eat or drink while pregnant and everything to do with their own bodies. There may be certain precautions that they should take, but that does not mean that those precautions should be routine advice to every woman, the vast majority of which can carry pregnancies to term just fine.

    You are also confusing the advice of a doctor who was treating YOU and considering YOUR special circumstances and recommendations made to everyone. I don’t think a single person here is saying to casually disregard medical advice given by your own doctor that is specifically-tailored to your situation. We are saying to give realistic advice to the general population and stay out what what other people choose to do during pregnancy. And the truth is that the vast majority of people can do whatever the heck they want during pregnancy and nothing will happen to them or the baby.

  58. lollipoplover December 11, 2014 at 9:59 am #

    Uber Fertile Women is Kate Gosselin’s garage band name.

    Having had 3 babies but 1 miscarriage, do I still count as one? I sure hope so. I always wanted to be Uber something.

    As for Perfect births and pressure to go drug-free, I always ask back what do they use for dental procedures. Do they use breathing techniques and jacuzzi relaxation instead of novacaine and work through the pain? Yeah, I plan on using modern day pain management as well.

    I didn’t think I wanted an epidural and had perfect visions of handling pain much differently than how I actually did. The things that came out of my mouth during labor would make a drunk sailor blush. I may have also promised the Anesthesiologist to name my child after him and the cash contents of my husband’s wallet if he helped me overcome the pain. The labor with the epidural was soo much better. I ate popcicles and read People magazines and greeted everyone happily as they entered my room. Baby came out after 3 pushes and I quickly realized that there were no trophies or medals given for how we bring our kids into this world. Just great stories to share with them of how they came into our lives.

  59. Donna December 11, 2014 at 11:03 am #

    Despite thinking that most of it is ridiculous, I did enjoy milking some of the “rules” of pregnancy when I was pregnant. In particular, the sushi and seafood ones. I’m not the biggest fan of seafood and detest sushi so it was very nice to just be able to point to my stomach and say “I can’t eat sushi” when friends or coworkers suggested going out for sushi rather than the usual eye-rolls I get when I just say I don’t like it. And to order something other than fish at seafood restaurants without getting a look. Avoiding the incredulous stares when I say I don’t drink coffee or soda and not being asked why I’m not drinking alcohol (I do drink occasionally just not as much as some of my coworkers at the time) was nice too.

    Which really just makes me think that maybe we are waaaaaaaaaaaay too concerned about what other people are doing in general, and not just pregnant women.

  60. hineata December 11, 2014 at 12:55 pm #

    @Lollipoplover…that is the best analogy. Just the best! :-). Am so jealous I never thought of it myself :-).

  61. Flurry December 11, 2014 at 6:09 pm #

    ” some states like Georgia have already tried to pass laws that make women report miscarriages to police. Which of course is completely insane. The pro life people are willing to hurt infertile people in their quest to make abortion illegal..”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but if a person has a miscarriage, she was pregnant, right? – so how does that make her infertile?

  62. Papilio December 12, 2014 at 12:53 pm #

    @SOA (and the lady with the crazy cat): If anything, I’d think überfertile women have MORE miscarriages, not fewer. Their bodies are so bad at decided which fertilized egg is healthy enough to carry to full-term and which ones aren’t, that every egg catches on and is only disposed of much later into the pregnancy than should have. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the majority of fertilized eggs never lead to pregnancy in the first place. That makes ‘life begins at conception’ überridiculous.

    @Hineata: Clearly in your case a natural birth wasn’t perfectly possible, so I’d never blame you for having an “emperor’s cut”, as we call it – you didn’t have much choice. And like you say, it’s wonderful that giving birth is so much less dangerous than it was before the days of good hygiene and interventions when necessary. I guess that summarizes it for me: fantastic that it exists and that it’s a possibility, but preferably it shouldn’t be the default or first choice to medicalize something that is basically a part of life and a natural process that women have been going through for millions of years. Of course I’m influenzed by what’s considered normal in this country, and also by my mother – unable to watch a woman give birth on tv without commenting on how she’s half knocked-out by the anaesthetics yet still screaming her head off… – who gave birth to me at home, without epidural, with help of a midwife and my father, on a birthing seat (English?). (Did I mention they lived on a ship back then…?)

    @Flurry: “if a person has a miscarriage, she was pregnant, right? – so how does that make her infertile?” If those pregnancies never result in an actual breathing child, I’d call that infertile…

  63. Flurry December 12, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

    According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of infertile is: not fertile; especially : incapable of or unsuccessful in achieving pregnancy over a considerable period of time (as a year) in spite of determined attempts by heterosexual intercourse without contraception.

  64. hineata December 12, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

    @Papilio – that’s marvelous for your mum! The best way where possible. However, when then did she get to experiment with drugs? :-).

  65. Mimi December 13, 2014 at 3:40 am #

    Meh. I’m lucky I wasn’t pressured when I was pregnant. I practiced moderation but sometimes indulged on things like raw sushi (I craved for Japanese food and salmon sashimi) drank a glass of wine to celebrate an occasion, just to name a few. My baby’s healthy. What I don’t like though is pregnant women smoking. I mean, really? It’s bad enough for yourself, why do it when you’re pregnant?

  66. Rainey Daye December 13, 2014 at 8:57 am #

    My family is crazy fertile. Between October 2008 and July 2012 I got pregnant five times. But in that 3.75 years time I had a full term pregnancy and did not regain fertility until my son was 10 months old (as I was exclusively pumping for him for nine months)…so yeah…fertile. My mom had 7 kids and lost 4. My SIL lost 2 and is due any day now with her 3rd son. One sis has had 1 and lost 1 (in her 3.5 years of marriage). Another sister has 2, lost 3 (including a 28-weeker who only lived a few hours) and is now pregnant again. My parents currently have 10 grandchildren (provided the two on the way make it safely to the outside)…but nine other grandbabies did not make it. So I definitely agree that fertility does not equal successful pregnancies.

  67. Puzzled December 13, 2014 at 10:39 am #

    So I was listening to the radio yesterday, and they had a guest on to talk about a story on excessive drinking. Seems they found out that most people who drink excessively aren’t alcoholics, and that 1/3 of people drink excessively. The host asked what the criteria were for “excessive drinking.” Some seemed alright, but the one that made me crazy was having even one drink during pregnancy or while underage. So a pregnant woman who, one time, drinks a glass of red wine, is now an excessive drinker. Seems to me that 1/3 may be a little inflated. In principle, a 6 year old whose father gives him a sip of beer is also an excessive drinker…

  68. SOA December 15, 2014 at 7:16 am #

    None of you are fertility doctors and probably have never even been seen by one or spoken to one so I doubt you have more knowledge on this than I do. I saw a fertility doctor every day for 3 years. I know what is up.

    Infertility in relation to reproductive endocrinologists is for women who cannot get pregnant and cannot keep a pregnancy to term. Who cares if you get pregnant every month if you immediately lose that baby every month? That still qualifies you as infertile. I would know since I was able to get pregnant but was unable to carry to term and the insurance company as well as the doctors stamped my chart as infertile. Fertility clinics treat women who can’t get pregnant and they also treat women who can’t stay pregnant. They go hand in hand. Some women only have one of the above and some women like myself have both. I was only able to get pregnant with assistance from RE and then needed more assistance to stay pregnant.

    And it was not just advice tailored to me. They had a packet they distributed to EVERY new patient that gave the same advice-no caffeine-no unpasteurized dairy products, lots of protein, whole grains and water, no alcohol, no cigarettes, no over the counter meds without checking with them first, no sushi, no tuna, etc.

    They would actually not even treat you with an IVF if you admitted to smoking. Because they knew it would be a waste of time and resources.

    So don’t try to talk about stuff you know nothing about.

  69. SOA December 15, 2014 at 7:42 am #

    this clinical definition of infertility from the WHO includes being unable to have live birth

  70. hineata December 15, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

    Every day? For three years?

    I’m gobsmacked. I know people with actual serious illness who see the doctor every few weeks. How in the world would seeing a doctor daily be helpful to anyone? If you need injections and can’t bring yourself to do it for yourself, well, a nurse maybe, but a real live doctor?

    No wonder your health care system is so screwed. Doctors wasting that sort of time on cases that are sad but not dangerous to life and limb (unless you had some sort of dangerous gynecological condition I’m not understanding here) seems a patent waste of resources. Even if insurance would cover it.

  71. Donna December 15, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

    SOA – Actually I did have treatment from a fertility doctor. An extremely highly regarded one who didn’t give me a single pamphlet or have a single conversation with me about what to eat or drink. We also didn’t discuss smoking, but I’m not a smoker.

    ALL medical recommendations made by a doctor should be on a case-by-case basis. Even at a fertility clinic, there are many reasons why someone could be there – female infertility, male infertility, miscarriage, lesbian couple, single mother, surrogate. Not all – or even most – cases need to be treated as dire “stay away from everything” situations. Any doctor who takes that tactic is poor in my opinion.

    And I call complete BS on you seeing any doctor EVERY DAY for 3 years.

  72. Papilio December 15, 2014 at 4:55 pm #

    Relax, people. Sounds like SOA had a boyfriend/husband who was fertility doctor – otherwise I can’t explain it 😀

    @Puzzled: What? And the legal age for alcohol is crazily high in the USA! So someone who gets their driver’s license, votes, gets married, has a kid, signs up for the army, fights a war, returns home and then celebrates their safe return at the age of 20 years and 11 months with… a beer [cue scary music] is an excessive drinker???

    @Hineata: Using marihuana is legal here since the 70s, remember? 🙂 No excuses needed. In those early years even harddrugs were tolerated!
    I’d be surprised if she ever used something heavier than alcohol though.

  73. SOA December 19, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

    Not every day for 3 years but there would be weeks at a time I had to come in daily for hormone blood draws. The two times I did IUI with them it required daily coming in for hormone level checks while on super ovulation meds to make sure they are not over doing it or under doing it. Then once the IUI was performed I came in regularly for checking hormone levels to see if I needed supplements. Then weekly ultrasounds and blood level checks after that. Needless to say I knew every staff member there by name and knew all about them.

    Before that it was coming in for test after test after test to find out what was wrong with me and coming in to deal with payments and insurance issues. I pretty much did nothing but go there for a long time. When multiple pregnancies fail-you have to keep repeating the process over and over which means more and more and more visits.

  74. SOA December 19, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

    Forgot to add they also do an interuterine ultrasound daily to measure your egg size during superovulation to see if the eggs are responding properly. Same with when I got pregnant, regular interuterine ultrasounds to check status of baby since things were very fragile and they wanted to know immediately if I started to miscarry or had miscarried.