Right up front, I’m going to say what this post is not: best foods to eat during pregnancy and foods to avoid. People have posted all over the internet with those lists. What’s talked about less are the food-related challenges that pregnancy brings. It causes struggles with our eating habits, lifestyle habits, and relationships.
So let’s talk about pregnancy and diet.
Alcohol and Coffee
For many Americans, these two are the hardest to deal with. During pregnancy, it is strongly recommended not to drink alcohol and to drink no more than a cup of coffee a day. Considering that some people drink coffee like it’s water and drink alcohol on a regular basis, that can be a huge challenge.
Tea can be a good alternative to coffee for your caffeine boost. Try seltzer water instead of alcohol. It gives you something flavored to drink that is healthier than soda.
If you find that you’re having a hard time giving up alcohol or other substances, ask your doctor for help.
Should your partner give up alcohol, coffee, or anything else with you?
I was surprised to come across this question. It had never occurred to me the idea that a partner should give things up along with their pregnant partner. I didn’t give up coffee and alcohol – I never drank them in the first place. It’s the norm around here for my husband to partake in those two beverages while I don’t.
But I saw across the net that it is an issue for a lot of couples.
Which is understandable. The pregnant person can no longer partake in some of her favorite things and gets jealous or feels a lack of solidarity when her partner still does.
Even more surprising than the question itself were the answers I saw people giving to those asking. I joined the Baby Center Community while I was pregnant and saw the question come up a few times in different threads.
A lot of women (who were also pregnant) told the upcoming mother to suck it up. They did, and so can she.
That is horrible, horrible advice for two reasons. 1) Every relationship is different. What works for one couple may not work for another and vice versa. 2) A lot of these women who were claiming they just dealt with it were also clearly building up resentment towards their partner.
So should your partner give up things with you during your pregnancy? You two need to sit down and figure out what’s best for you. For some, like us, the answer is no. For others, it is yes or some type of compromise.
Examples of compromises would be asking your partner to drink coffee at the office but not at home where you can see (and smell!!) it.
Asking your partner to not drink alcohol at home but being okay with it when you’re socializing with friends.
Maybe the opposite would work for you. You may not have an issue with your partner drinking at home when it’s just the two of you but feel left out in a social setting when you’re the only one not drinking. In that instance, your partner can stand with you in solidarity by not drinking as well. Then you won’t feel like an odd ball out.
If these don’t sound like the right solution, you can ask your partner to go over to a friend’s house to drink when they want to instead of drinking in front of you.
For some, the answer may be for your partner to not get drunk in front of you. Perhaps a drink or two doesn’t bother you but anything more does.
There are so many possible answers to come up with for a compromise. But no matter what –
Do not feel ridiculous for asking your partner to make changes with you during pregnancy.
‘Cause guess what? You didn’t get pregnant alone. The key is finding changes you can both agree to.
If you are not able to do that with just the two of you, you might consider finding a counselor to help you learn how to communicate with each other better. Communication is crucial. It’s even more important than exercise and eating all the right foods.
If you and your partner do not know how to communicate before Baby comes, that’s only going to get worse after Baby comes.
However, if you know how to communicate and resolve issues, intimacy in your relationship can increase with the arrival of your new baby.
This topic right here might be my biggest pet peeve in regards to pregnancy and society.
While I was pregnant, I was taking 4 eight-week classes at a time to finish my degree before Sara’s arrival. Almost all of those classes were in my major of Sociology. This led me to see my pregnant world through a Sociologist’s eyes.
And I wasn’t happy about what I saw. To explain why we will need to talk about our culture and the advice given to pregnant women. Spoiler alert: they don’t mesh.
In cities, every street corner has a fast food restaurant on it. Some chains will have multiple locations on the same street. Fast food is everywhere. Why is it so successful? Because we eat it.
The industry has more than enough demand to be all over the place like it is. It is a part of daily living for most Americans. We are busy, many of us don’t know how to cook, and fast food is convenient. It is built into our habits and lives
But what happens when a woman gets pregnant? She gets told not to eat fast food. Worse than that, she can’t even eat the healthy options available at these chains. There is a danger of Salmonella and E. Coli from fresh foods, especially restaurant salad bars. So it is recommended to only eat healthy foods at home where you know they have been washed and prepared correctly to minimize the risk of dangerous ailments.
This means no salads at restaurants. No lettuce or other veggies (or cold cut meat) on your sandwich at Subway or other sub chains. No salads or other fresh items from the pre-prepared section at the grocery store. Nothing healthy unless you make it at home.
Remember what I said earlier? Fast food is a part of our lifestyle. We gravitate towards it because it takes little effort in our busy lives (it’s also addictive, but that’s its own issue).
And when a woman gets pregnant, she has even less time. Good chance she feels nauseous, so cooking is hard. She’s moving slowly because of pains and nausea. As previously mentioned, maybe she’s given up alcohol and coffee and is feeling stressed out about it.
Meanwhile, she’s still trying to keep up with her daily life. If she didn’t have time to cook before, she definitely doesn’t now.
Expecting pregnant women to make sudden, healthy changes to their lifestyle just because they are pregnant is absurd. Their body is putting them through hell. They’re going to want easy food options more than they ever did before. And they are told not to eat the healthy options because of the risk of sickness.
What are people going to choose? The fatty foods. It may not be healthy, but at least they don’t have to worry about getting E. Coli or Salmonella.
So if you have a pregnant woman in your life, cook for her. She needs help. If you are pregnant, above all else, make sure you are eating. Don’t inadvertently starve yourself because you are unable to eat your usual foods.
We can only do so much with what’s available.
Society needs to change to make it easier for everyone to have healthy food options rather than get mad at pregnant women for struggling to go against the grain and eat right. In the meantime, get your partner to help out with meals.
People trying to feed you when you’re nauseous or not hungry
This was an issue I wasn’t expecting and only occurred when we visited home for the holidays. Family members kept trying to shove food down my throat.
It was extremely frustrating to turn down the same food offered to me on multiple occasions. Just because a woman is pregnant does not mean she is going to be hungry 24/7.
If you have a pregnant woman in your home or are visiting one, make sure they know food is available if they want it. That’s all they need. You don’t need to offer it a hundred times.
And ladies, don’t be afraid to turn it down. You don’t have to eat if you don’t want to. I know in some cultures it’s rude not to eat what’s offered you or to not eat everything on your plate.
But I’d like to believe most people won’t take offense if you tell them you’ll get sick if you eat a certain item or eat more than you have. Which brings me to my next item.
There are food cravings, and then there are food aversions
Everyone knows about food cravings. When you’re pregnant, everyone wants to know what you’re craving. It’s like a fun game. Who has similar cravings? Who has the craziest cravings?
What many people don’t realize is that food aversion is also a thing. And that’s what I experienced. I didn’t crave anything. Rather, I thought of foods and felt sick to my stomach.
My husband thought I was craving scrambled eggs because that’s what I always asked him to make me. But scrambled eggs were the only thing I could eat often and found desirable to eat.
I had two issues with food aversion.
The first was that almost any food I ate more than twice would make me nauseous.
So while the advice is to eat crackers when you don’t feel good, because it will help settle your stomach, that quickly went down the drain for me. It worked at first. But then the more crackers I ate, the more nauseous I would feel.
The second issue was a total aversion to some foods, specifically sugar. During my first trimester (and the beginning of the second), I ate barely any sugar. Just thinking of it made me feel sick, let alone consuming it.
That was part of the problem with people constantly trying to get me to eat. They kept trying to feed me sugar. I love sugar. But during this time in my life, I didn’t even want to look at it.
If a pregnant woman in your life has some aversions, respect them and help her eat what she can.
Eating right during pregnancy is hard
What struggles did you face? Did you experience similar issues to me or different ones? Are there other issues with advice society gives to pregnant women you’ve noticed? Comment to let me know!