Thursday, 5 January 2012

Breaking all the Rules - Pregnancy Eating and Drinking

Whenever I used to find out that a friend or relative was pregnant the third thought in my head (after "YAY!" and "I hope she doesn't get too sick!") was always - "Ooohhh, now she can't drink for at least nine months! That sucks!"

It was definitely a sign of me not being ready to have my own baby, and I think that's ok. I clearly remember at one of my friends college graduation parties a friend of our exclaimed (during the middle of a beer pong game) - "I don't want to get pregnant - I can't imagine NOT drinking for NINE MONTHS!" 

I guess there comes a point in your life (or for some, maybe not) when you start thinking past the drinking implications of having a baby and plunge right in. But being pregnant doesn't really mean that you have to stop drinking, does it?

Hands down one of the biggest adjustments that being pregnant has brought to my life (besides my ever expanding waistline) is constantly thinking about what I can and cannot eat and drink. Now, I am used to thinking about food 24x7 but usually in a much different way. Gone are the days of "I can't wait to have a bloody, rare steak and a gallon of red wine for dinner!" and are more likely to be filled with "Is that cheese pasteurized? Do you have any appetizers that are fully cooked? No wine for me thank you, just a glass of sparkling water."

The drinking thing is a little bit easier to handle - either you know you can drink something or you can't. Milk? Good. Water? Good. Vodka and tonic? Bad. It's more black and white, easier to make a decision. Food is much harder. I am constantly thinking - "What did that book say about feta? Is prosciutto OK to eat? What did that book say about tuna, and shrimp...what about lobster?!?" Its exhausting and at times frustrating. There have been many times when I have started eating something (or even worse - after I have already eaten something) and thought in a panic "WAIT!!! CAN I EAT THIS?!"

So, have I cut all alcohol and "bad" foods from my diet since finding out Baby C was on the way?


Now if you know know me at all, you know that I am not a big drinker. A few glasses of wine or cocktails after work and I am good to go. Even when things did get a little bit messy during a night out I'm such a lightweight that I really only ever had five or six drinks at one time (clearly things have changed since college). However, I do cherish my Friday night cocktail. And I love me a glass of red wine, or champagne or even an ice cold beer during the summer months. One of the first questions that I asked my doctor upon finding out we were pregnant was - "What can I eat and drink?" Luckily because we live in Europe (well...kinda....) she was pretty relaxed with her recommendations. 

A glass of wine or two a week? Totally fine. A bottle or two a week? No way.

Sushi takeaway from your local Sainsbury (a supermarket chain)? I wouldn't if I were you. Sushi from a high-quality restaurant that you totally trust? Feel free to enjoy every once in a while.

The point of her recommendations was more "be smart about it" and less "food and alcohol police" which I appreciated. I am reading two pregnancy books and both are by American writers and publishers. They seem to be a lot more strict when it comes to cutting out certain foods and drinks. I find their "rules" to be very limiting - no alcohol, no deli meats, all red meat has to be well done, no sushi, no cheese unless its pasteurized, etc. I find the Europeans to be much more relaxed. Do you think pregnant women in France stop drinking red wine and eating cheese for nine months? Highly doubtful. Personally

So, what have I been eating (and drinking) and I "shouldn't" be?

Alcohol - I treat myself to a drink once a week, Christmas week I treated myself to two drinks (it being a special occasion and all!). We all know that excessive drinking is bad for the baby (and for us) but a drink here and there isn't going to do any damage to the baby. And besides, it gets really boring ordering water on a Friday night when everyone else is having a cocktail!

Cheese - This is a tricky one. According to the couple of pregnancy books that I have you aren't supposed to eat any soft cheeses (brie, etc) or blue cheese (because of the mold). Which are of course my favorite kinds of cheeses. You also aren't supposed to eat any cheese that hasn't been pasteurized, which is really hard to tell if you don't have the packaging (and even sometimes when you do), as a whole host of other cheeses are on the "No" list. So with cheese I take it day by day. I have stayed away from the obvious Roquefort's and brie, but will have goats cheese and other possibly-unpasteourized cheeses every once in a while.

Caffeine - due to a very strong aversion to the smell and taste of coffee during my first trimester, giving up coffee and caffeine was easier than I thought. I usually stick to decaf teas and coffee as much as I can, but on those days when I am really struggling I will have a caffeinated coffee or soda to give me a little boast. (And besides, even American doctors will admit that one serving of caffeine a day is perfectly fine)

Deli Meat - this is a tricky one. You try finding a sandwich at lunch time that doesn't include some sort of processed turkey or ham deli meat inside of it. Unless you want to eat tunafish or cheese sandwiches' (see above for which cheese sandwiches are "approved" and which aren't) it's pretty hard to do. Also, what about proscuitto? The love of my life! My take on this? Avoid it when you can, but if you can't a couple slices of ham will be OK.

How about you? If you have been/or are currently pregnant what foods and drinks did you avoid or indulge in when you weren't supposed to? Did you follow all the rules or did you break some like me?

I just want to put a disclaimer in here - I am by no means supporting or encouraging acting reckless when pregnant. Drinking a lot of alcohol regularly throughout your pregnancy is dangerous and is not encouraged by me or any medical professional. And I am not encouraging pregnant women to eat bloody rare meat and pounds of brie cheese. I simply wanted to share my experiences while being pregnant. I am not trying to intentionally hurt my baby and nor am I suggesting anyone else does either.

1 comment:

  1. When I was pregnant, I cut out all pasteurized cheeses/meats, salmon (mercury), caffeine and alcohol. I broke down twice and had a mountain dew but I couldn't ever bring myself to justify the potential risks if I drank alcohol. I know what the studies say, but heaven forbid my child was the 1% and I was the I cut out all those things while breastfeeding...annoying but completely worth it in my opinion!