Confusion reigns: Food for the mom-to-be

In her tongue-in-cheek article,

Judith Woods “raises a glass (of fish oil) to commonsense advice on what she can and can’t consume while she is pregnant.”

If you feel yourself being slowly driven mad by all the headlines dictating what a pregnant woman should or should not eat, you will enjoy this commentary on the “daily cascade of health warnings, and nutritional do’s and don’ts,” which are definitely promoting the belief that “there’s never been a more terrifying time to be pregnant.”

Six years ago, when the author was pregnant with her daughter, things were different. More relaxed. Of course she knew enough to cut out the cigarettes, and she even avoided peanuts for fear of allergies. But that was the extent of many women’s awareness of proper pregnancy nutrition.  (You may be horrified to know that she was even “known to indulge in the occasional glass of celebratory champagne.” *GASP*)

“But times have changed, and, in 2008, it’s a very different story…. We must apparently ditch our coffee habit (risk of miscarriage), avoid chocolate (too much caffeine), eschew burgers and chips (sumo baby syndrome, culminating in a whopping 13lb-er with a lifelong obesity problem), give a wide berth to swordfish (high levels of mercury) and, my favourite; steer clear of killer milk (unpasteurised milk can contain salmonella) – although short of driving to Hertfordshire and hijacking a Holstein friesian with a bucket in my hand, I have no idea where I might ever come across it.”

And to make matters more confusing: “We are now being encouraged to eat peanuts by some experts, who believe that exposure to nuts while in the womb will prevent rather than cause allergies.”

Tap water, alcohol, olive oil, broccoli, and spicy food (“toddlers who turn up their noses at spicy food are likely to be branded racist”)… Eat a lot? Eat a little? Don’t eat at all?  Wherever you turn someone else is offering new (and often conflicting) advice!

What’s the bottom line?

“It’s true that we are getting bombarded by more and more health stories about pregnancy, which can make women feel very stressed – my daughter went through hell when she was pregnant,” says Peter Bowen-Simpkins, medical director of the London Women’s Clinic and spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists…. “It’s important to remember that the risks are very low… Yes, you should take basic precautions, but not to get so fixated that you don’t enjoy your pregnancy.”

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