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Overwhelmed by pregnancy dos & donts!

(104 Posts)
PenguinPoo4 Thu 10-Feb-11 12:36:50

My DP and I have decided to try and conceive our first baby - eek! But I'm finding all the advice out there about what you can and can't eat and physically do a bit irritating. I've heard that you cant have hot baths whilst pregnant, can't eat soft boiled eggs, brie etc. etc. but people can never tell me WHY! It seems that a lot of pregnant and TTC women take all these precautions because 'it's better to be safe than sorry' and I do agree, but i want to be able to assess the risks for myself and make an informed decision about things based on FACT!Is there a book out there that actually goes into the science behind these things? I'm thinking studies, research etc. Please dont think I'm taking this all lightly and just looking for an excuse to carry on bunjee jumping and drinking wine whilst TTC and pregnant - I'm not, I just want to be able to make the decisions about how to manage my health myself - and lets face it, I could be TTC (so possibly unknowingly pregnant) for bloomin ages so at least if I can understand why I'm having to give up nuts or whatever then I may find it a bit easier!
PS I've lurked for a while but this is my first ever post so please be gentle

DrSeuss Thu 10-Feb-11 12:45:22

The more relaxed you are the better your chances. Just take your folic acid, bonk like a bunny and relax! If you want a drink/piece of Brie/soft boiled egg, have one. And try to avoid the whole charting/ I'm ovulating so screw me now thing if pos as that's a) a pain in the arse and b) so not fun. Just go with it and see what happens.

JBrd Thu 10-Feb-11 12:50:03

Well, I think that maybe you should get pregnant first and then start worrying about the do's and dont's... smile. There'll be enough time then, honestly!

Agree with DrSeuss, for now, just take the folic acid and try to eat and drink healthily - at the moment, you can eat everything, so enjoy!

Deliaskis Thu 10-Feb-11 12:50:18

Penguin good first post, as you've asked the things that probably most just or soon-to-be pregnant people think!

I haven't found a definitive book of actual facts out there that answers your questions, but I did do a lot of internet research, and made my own decisions about the risks.

It is of course all a matter of your own personal judgement of risk versus benefit, and any deeper understanding you can glean about the actual science behind things.

I think for me, it split into broadly two areas: the things that affect the foetus every time you have/do them. By this I mean things like alcohol, caffeine, hot baths, excess of mercury high oily fish i.e. every time you indulge (or more accurately over-indulge), the baby might 'feel the effect' so to speak. Also in this category for me is pate, as apart from the listeria risk (which is in my second category below), it is also high in vitamin A which has been associated with early miscarriage.

The second area is things that are more theoretical risks, that is, there is hardly any evidence that babies are directly harmed by these things under normal circumstances. For me this included a lot of the food concerns, in that the risk is only there is the food does actually carry listeria or salmonella or whatever. So for me, eggs for example were not contraband, as hen's eggs in the UK are now all vaccinated for salmonella so the risk is more miniscule than miniscule. Ditto for a lot of food concerns, e.g. prawns, if fresh frozen, defrosted yourself in the fridge and eaten immediately, the risk is tiny, and brie, if bought fresh and well packaged from a supermarket and kept in the fridge and eaten while fresh, the risk is again tiny. I have been a lot more cautious about things like cold meats, cheeses, fish etc. that has been hanging around on buffet tables, and in sandwich bars where you just don't know how it is kept.

So that's been my approach, avoid things that are a definite risk, and be very choosy about things that are a theoretical risk, to try and minimise the chances of them being an actual risk.

Everybody has a different approach though and I would never criticise anybody for being more or less cautious than I. I think I probably fall into the 'less risk averse than average' category, but with all of my decisions, I have found the more research into actual facts that I have done, the more reassured I have felt.

So I guess my advice is, do some reading and research, and then it's really up to you to make your own decisions!

Good luck with TTC!

MoonUnitAlpha Thu 10-Feb-11 12:50:46

I don't know of any books in particular, but the internet probably has all the info you're looking for!

I wanted to do some research too - I think I found the risk of salmonella from eggs now is so tiny I didn't worry. Soft cheese is listeria, also very rare but very serious, so I did mostly avoid brie/pate. Hot baths - so long as it's not so hot that you go red and feel lightheaded it's fine. Alcohol as well, there's no evidence that one or two drinks a week does any harm.

cocoachannel Thu 10-Feb-11 12:52:53

Hi there,

I can only give you my experience, but hope it helps. DH and I decided to try to conceive. I was very strict, following the advice (great diet, very limited alcohol, no hot baths etc.), I got pregnant but had an ectopic. After an EP you have to wait to TTC again for three months. During my three months I drank too much wine, ate too much chocolate and had many very hot baths, saunas etc. I got pregnant again very quickly which meant I had in the couple of weeks between conceiving and my BFP got drunk once, and done all the 'wrong' things. This pregnancy is now at 38 weeks!

I'm not saying it's a great idea to drink loads and so on whilst TTC, just that it's better to relax and not worry too much. TBH if you start stessing about the 'rules' now you'll have a miserable pregnancy and then wait until you start Reading up on the dos and don'ts for when the baby arrives!

I'd say relax, have fun and see what happens...

Good luck!

PenguinPoo4 Thu 10-Feb-11 12:54:24

But what do you do if you work with a bunch of pregnancy Nazis! I work with women who, whenever anyone they know is pregnant, criticize them if they do anything that could be considered risky - excercise a bit too much, eat soft cheese etc. And as my job has physical aspects I just know they'll be on my case if I do anything that they consider unsafe (I wouldnt do anything that I think would be dangerous, but I dont plan to wrap myself in cotton wool either).
I know it doesnt matter what these women think. But it would be great to be really informed so that I could say 'Well, statistically I have more chance of being hit by a meteor than I would have a miscarriage just by climbing a friggin ladder! I mean, I could say that anyway, but it'd be nice to have something to back it up.

cocoachannel Thu 10-Feb-11 12:55:29

and '*did* all the 'wrong' things'. Blimey! I have an MA in English, would you believe? Baby brain is something you will hopefully get to experience very soon!

Quenelle Thu 10-Feb-11 12:57:53

I agree. Don't give up anything until you know you're pregnant. Just take the folic acid and keep yourself 'topped up' with regular sex IYSWIM.

I did find the advice irritating when I was pregnant though. My MW was so cagey in her answer when I asked her about eating peanuts that I couldn't even understand what she was saying!

For info I found the FSA website very useful. In fact, they were giving out the updated advice about peanuts long before the HVs and MWs were.

Good luck TTC.

NightLark Thu 10-Feb-11 12:58:08

I haven't got a reference, but FWIW, here's what I know after 3 pregnancies:

Most of it is risk management, and most of the risks are small (as in very unlikely to happen to you). Problem is that the consequences can be so big (miscarriage, fetal death, birth defects).

The food restrictions are mainly to do with infection - pate, runny eggs, soft cheese, pre-prep salads, deli meats etc all carry a higher-than-average risk of food borne infection such as salmonella or listeria. Three reasons why you need to be careful - the first is that it's obv. not great for you or the baby if you come down with something horrible (not many medicines you can take either). The second is that your immune system is compromised while you're pg, so you're more likely than average to be unable to fight off an infection quickly, including rare stuff like listeria which is more likely to attack to you than pre-pregnancy. Third one is some things are specifically damaging to the developing baby, though I can't remember what, just now.

Medicines restrictions are often because they just haven't been tested on pg women, which is hardly surprising. Some things work from first principles, e.g. decongestants constrict blood vessels which raises BP which is a bad thing in pregnancy.

Alcohol - always contentious, but you may well find you don't want to touch it anyway. Same goes for tea and coffee. Too much and you're looking at Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, huge disagreement over whether too much is alcoholic levels or the occasional beer.

Hot baths (and hot tubs, jacuzzis etc) is because studies have shown that birth defects were more common in the babies of women who were regular hot tub users in the first trimester. It's not good for the baby if you overheat. Same thinking applies to edicts on extreme exercise and to being serious about avoiding illnesses that might result in persistent fever.

Avoiding nuts was an experimental kind of thinking about allergies, which I believe has been discredited.

Um, there will be more...

NightLark Thu 10-Feb-11 13:01:31

And the only thing to do with pregnancy busybodies is to smile and thank them and then ignore. They will be there as baby busybodies too. May as well get the practice in. There's always someone who thinks they know far, far better than you. Just wait till it comes to sleep training <bitter emoticon>

Quenelle Thu 10-Feb-11 13:04:35

Either save your 'risky' activities for when they're not around or learn to ignore them. There's no point getting in a discussion about it, they probably won't listen to you anyway.

And it doesn't hurt to practise your 'ignoring', they're bound to have loads more advice for you to ignore when the baby comes anyway.

Quenelle Thu 10-Feb-11 13:04:51

Or what NightLark said blush

PenguinPoo4 Thu 10-Feb-11 13:09:45

Thanks! Blimey, I was worried I wouldnt get any responses! JBrd, you are right, I am overthinking things a bit early, I think that I've been waiting to TTC for so long that I'm a bit over-excited.
It's good to know that I'm not an awful person for wanting to carry on having a bit of a life, I know that whilst TTC you are always potentially pregnant so should ideally act as though you are, but god that could take forever! I guess i will just take folic acid, not binge drink and then worry about the rest when I'm up the duff. I think when i am pregnant I will keep it to myself for as long as possible too, to delay the inevitable criticisms of my every move!
Quenelle, do you think that perhaps the reason that your midwife was cagey about your peanut question was because she didnt really understand it all herself? I think that a lot of so called experts do base their advice on outdated research, which is not really that relevant anymore, and its just easier to tell women to 'be on the safe side'.
I think I do need a book though, I didnt know about the Vitamin A thing!

PenguinPoo4 Thu 10-Feb-11 13:11:17

And of course the 'pegnancy nazis' have always had kids themselves so they hold the trump card - 'well, I've had 2 children and you havent had any' etc!

Quenelle Thu 10-Feb-11 13:17:57

I think she was cagey because she didn't want to tell me what to do. But she made such a hash of it she ended up saying nothing of any use.

I was only concerned because DH gets asthma, eczema and hayfever, which apparently increases the risk of allergy in the baby. BUT omitting peanuts altogether also increases the risk so what to do?

The FSA advice was basically keep doing what you've always done so I kept having my peanut butter on toast for breakfast throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding.

MoonUnitAlpha Thu 10-Feb-11 13:59:13

You have to eat a lot of liver for Vitamin A to be a worry though - I think they used to advise pregnant women eat lots of liver, which is what caused problems. An occasional bit of pate isn't enough to be a risk.

PenguinPoo4 Thu 10-Feb-11 14:08:37

God it's all such a minefield! I think I should try and enjoy my last few weeks/months of not being pregnant actually! Sounds like from the second you know you're pregnant you cant put a foot right no matter what you do.

Rainbowbubbles Thu 10-Feb-11 14:09:47

Hi Penguin, have a look here it's just the facts....

Hope it helps smile

PenguinPoo4 Thu 10-Feb-11 14:21:19

Thanks Rainbow, that site is great! I love the explanation about sushi, and am very pleased that I actually will be able to eat that when I am pregnant. Definately the best info source I've seen so far. Am off to read it all now

Thaney Thu 10-Feb-11 14:24:58

I followed the Food Standards Agency advice and didn't listen to anything or anyone else. I'm currently 32 weeks pregnant and everything seems to be progressing nicely.

The one thing I really miss is brie/camembert so I did a bit of research on listeria. Apparently, it can be killed off by heating to 70 degrees celcius for 2 minutes, so I took that to mean that a baked camembert would be absolutley fine!

I have always figured as well that if you only get to have one drink then have the one you really want so I have mostly been having champagne.

Westers Thu 10-Feb-11 14:25:18


Know exactly what you mean. It all depends on your attitude to risk and mothers-to-be are too often told what is best for them and assumed to be idiots rather than given the info.

Hence the advice to abstain entirely from alcohol because DoH thinks this is simpler than the advice than one or two units a week is OK - as if our poor addled brains would not know the difference between a small glass of wine and a small case of wine, so we are best told to not bother at all. Grrr.

Anyway, this article by the eminently sensible IMHO Zoe Williams is very good: th.medicineandhealth

Anyway, hope TTC works...

MsFaithless Thu 10-Feb-11 14:29:46

There was a Zoe Williams article about just this issue a while ago that you might like to read.

Stuff and Nonsense

MsFaithless Thu 10-Feb-11 14:31:08

Cross post Westers !

Great minds and all that grin

PenguinPoo4 Thu 10-Feb-11 14:51:30

Good article. I may be off the mark here, but I think this is almost a feminist issue. We have a range of professionals - mainly male, because most medical professionals are still male (I think!) telling pregnant women what to do and not giving them the information to make their own choices. Like what Westers said about the advice on drinking being altered because we arent capable of judging what a unit is. I just cant imagine men, if they could become pregnant, accepting such nonsense without wanting damn good reasons why they couldnt have that brie or go for that run etc.

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