Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Pregnant and prudent?

I read with interest the article, A Womb in Paris on Persephone Magazine this week. It compares some of the different attitudes towards what a pregnant woman is allowed to eat and drink and what they choose to consume, in France versus the US. The author's Parisian pregnant friend continues to enjoy some soft French cheeses, a glass of wine here and there and coffee, whilst the United States government’s list at recommended all those things and more should be avoided by someone who is pregnant.

A couple of pregnant friends were talking the other day about this same topic. One is due with her second baby and was commenting on how she has been less cautious with food and drink this time round, having a daily diet Coke for example, whereas with her first pregnancy she was very careful to avoid certain foods and drinks. The other lady is pregnant with her first baby and somehow hadn't even heard that she should have cut down on things like coffee and wine and has been consuming those things with the same regularity as before she was pregnant.

In my own case, I can say that I'm being a bit less strict with what I eat and drink this time round too. With my first pregnancy I cut out coffee completely but would have one cup of caffeinated tea a day. This time, if I want a cup of coffee I have one, whilst still sticking to no more than one caffeinated drink per day. Of course chocolate contains caffeine too and I'm not always as careful with how much of that I eat..... I am not drinking any alcohol and I am avoiding unpasteurised cheeses but generally I'm probably not eating overall as healthily as I did with my first pregnancy, where I would make a fruit salad for dessert over a cheesecake when we had people to dinner. (I've just made a cheesecake for dinner with a friend this evening!).

As the French lady featured in the article says, with a lot of the things to avoid, it's because of a pregnant woman's increased risk more than a direct danger from eating or drinking something. She also says that she can trust her own judgement and I think I feel the same. I try to balance out my diet with lots of healthy foods as well as my little indulgencies and I have my own personal limits that I don't exceed.

We're all responsible for our own bodies and need to do what we feel is right. Whilst I'm not as relaxed in my food and drink choices as the Parisian in the article, I do think there's a balance and no need to be too extreme, as with anything. Sensible choices, moderation and being aware of what we eat and drink can help strike a healthy balance.

What do you think about the article and how strict or careful were you in your pregnancies in terms of what you ate and drank?


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  1. What an interesting topic.

    I really wasn't that careful in my pregnancy as I felt I could make my own judgements fairly. I would drink a cup or two of tea a day, eat peanuts, enjoy eggs and prawns - I had a massive craving for prawns. But I always made sure everything was well cooked and I avoided alcohol.

    I think like you say though you can make your own judgements really and just being moderate is ok.

  2. Ah yes, the French approach to pregnancy is indeed interesting in comparison to US/UK guidelines.

    I was generally really careful with my one and only pregnancy once I was able to eat again after the Hyperemesis. Like the reader above, I had a huge craving for prawns cantonese from our Chinese takeaway, but unlike her I resisted. I also avoided ALL alcohol, peanuts, soft cheese, runny eggs (really tough) and cut down my prolific diet coke consumption. I did everything I could to protect my baby after the nasty trimester and a half I'd had. But regardless, I gave birth at 27 weeks.

    Others smoke, drink, consume everything they shouldn't, and give birth to perfectly healthy term babies. I'd conclude from that, moderation is fine. When problems with birth and children arise, I'll bet that the odds of it being related to the food consumed during pregnancy are more remote than winning the Euro lottery.

    Having said that, if there is a second pregnancy I personally will be doing everything by the book as I'm one of those 'at risk' people who will be monitored by the docs very closely!!! xX

  3. Living in the States I can tell you that the culture here thrives on fear. The funny thing is that they give you a list of all the things you shouldn't do or eat while pregnant but keep pumping pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones in our food. Fear and stress are not good for a baby. So I believe that anything that brings you contentment -always in moderation- is overall good for your child too.
    Of course, if there's a known high risk factor, then things change. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I did not watch what I ate and she was a very healthy and calm baby. With my son, i watched everything, and he's the one who turned out to get the chronic ear infections. Go figure...

  4. Thanks ladies for your comments!

    The Breasted News - always great to hear from someone new so thank you for reading and sharing your experiences.

    Mummy Beadzoid - you make a good point about 'at risk' people needing to pay extra care to what they consume.

    Maryse - it's interesting to have your viewpoint as someone living in the US specifically. Thanks for your insight!

  5. This is so interesting! I too live in the US and am now pregnant with my third child. While I am less strict with my diet this time, I am also cautious. I will have a caffinated drink from time to time (and have a few times had 2-3 in one day) but will not drink alcohol. I feel like it is a limited time to take out some foods and for me it is worth the possible risk no matter how small. I am also an RN that worked with high risk pregnancies so that probably gives me a perspective that makes me err on the side of caution. I guess we all do the best we can with what we know and feel is optimal for our babies!

  6. [...] Moving into 2011, the photo was published in a Jan 24, 2011 blog titled "Best Safe Baby Pregnancy Tips." And it was published in an Apr 6, 2011 Health Charter Online blog, with the same caption and detailed notes that I had written on this Flickr page. It was also published in an Apr 23, 2011 blog titled "Laugh Before Noon With the Banker." And it was published in a May 26, 2011 blog titled "Best Safe Baby Pregnancy Tips." It was also published in a Jun 22, 2011 blog titled "Pregnant and Prudent?" [...]


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