The truth behind pregnancy do’s and don’ts

Shortly after revealing our exciting news to friends and family something became alarmingly apparent (and I’m not talking about my DD cups); everyone has an opinion and, where pregnancy’s concerned, they ain’t afraid to share it! Aside from friends and family commenting on how tired I look and how bad my skin is (err F*CK off!?) I was perhaps most irked when I sat down at a well-known coffee shop with friends only to be told ‘you HAVE to have decaf’.

Now hang on just a minute! I know there are some things that are deemed ‘unsafe’ for pregnant women but can everyone just chill out for one minute? This scaremongering, a hysterical mix of old wives tales, myth and of course that 0.1% percentile that everyone loves to harp on about, needs to stop! Doesn’t it?

And so in a quest for answers I met up with friend, and midwife, Sydney H to discuss the truth behind the do’s and don’ts…..

What quickly became apparent, as I shoveled delicious PRAWN Tom Yum into my hungry pregnant gob, was that the lines between ensuring the mother maintains good health and what could actually cause damage to your unborn child have become seriously blurred.

Salmonella poisoning is a great example of this. Just that day I read that ‘during pregnancy, you need to cook eggs properly until both the white and yolk turn solid’ leaving me terrified of Sunday morning’s runny eggs and soldiers. This is in fact a load of baloney! Salmonella doesn’t cross the placenta. Yes contracting the infection would make you feel really sh*t but it would make anyone feel really sh*t!

Overheating is another. Changes in hormones, increased volume of blood and flow are likely to leave you feeling a little flushed every now and then. This could lead to dehydration and feeling faint. Again this would not be an ideal situation for anyone to find themselves in, exercising the same level of common sense that you did pre-pregnancy should do the trick though. Wear some cool clothes, grab a glass of water. Get a grip!

There are, however, three things you should consider when pregnant;

Let’s start with Listeria. Found in soil, unpasteurised milk and food manufacturing environments this nasty little bacteria can lead to Listeriosis an infection with flu like symptoms. This bacteria can cross the placenta and cause problems with your baby, in some cases leading to miscarriage. Try not to panic though simple measures will ensure peace of mind. Avoid some soft cheeses (brie and camembert) and ensure you wash your fruit before eating it. In the UK smoked salmon and cold cuts are deemed safe and better still those soft cheeses I just mentioned are also fine, as long as they’re cooked. Mmmm baked camembert!

The next is Vitamin A. Found in a number of common food sources including cheese, eggs, oily fish, milk and yoghurt it plays an important role in developing a healthy baby. However; a 1995 study found that too much of a good thing could lead to birth defects. To err on the side of caution it’s therefore advised to avoid Pate as the main ingredient (liver) is very rich in the vitamin.

And finally, caffeine. This stimulant can constrict blood vessels which restricts blood flow around the body and can cut blood supply to your growing babe. It’s therefore advised to limit daily intake to 200mg a day. This roughly equates to one Starbucks OR two mugs of instant/tea.

You’ll note fags and booze have been omitted from the list. Smoking kills. Go figure. Alcohol, I believe, is a matter of choice. We know that too much has a detrimental effect on our own livers so consider the effect, even a small amount, could have on the tiny, developing organ, in the child within. Personally, I think a glass here and there is fine.

So to recap; wash your fruit and veg; brie, camembert and shellfish are all fine so long as steaming hot; steer clear of the pate aisle; one store bought coffee a day (who can afford two!?). Eggs, hard boiled or runny are A-OK (that little red lion stamp means it was laid by a vaccinated hen). As are spas, hot baths and spicy currys!

One of the most negative impacts on pregnancy, say’s Sydney as we round up our conversation, is anxiety. Stick to the facts and feel confident in your choices!

External information you can trust;

1) Don’t be afraid to speak to your midwife about any concerns

2) The NHS website lists everything you need to know. Steer clear of forums!


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