Pregnancy is traditionally seen as a time of abstaining from a lot of the ‘good things’ in life and there are a whole heap of rules about what you can and can’t do (mostly what you can’t!). Most of them are just plain common sense but there are things like certain types of cheese and homemade ice cream which you’re advised against that you probably wouldn’t have thought about pre-pregnancy unless you’d really done your research.
It seems fairly odd that there are huge differences of opinion across the globe about what’s okay for pregnant women – from what I’ve heard in France they pretty much carry on as normal – but then when you think about all the other discrepancies, even in what individual health services believe is the actual gestation of a pregnancy, perhaps it’s not that surprising.
Some women really struggle with the restrictive nature of pregnancy, for example with quitting smoking or drastically reducing their alcohol intake (of course there are also those who carry on inhaling and imbibing blindly ignoring the health warnings). Myself, I think I’ve been pretty lucky in that neither of these two ‘biggies’ (to me not smoking and drinking in pregnancy are hugely more important than remembering to order your steak well done, although I’m sure people would disagree with me) have bothered me.
I was teetotal pretty much for a year before becoming pregnant due to being on medication which didn’t mix with alcohol. I came off those tablets in November in preparation for baby and then we found out we were pregnant in early January – so I think that meant I had two drinks in 13 months before getting pregnant. I’ve heard a lot of pregnant women say they’re really missing having a glass of wine or a beer so I do feel really lucky that I’m so used to not drinking and I haven’t wanted even one drink since falling pregnant. It also means, despite only a tiny amount of alcohol actually passing through to the baby through breast milk, I won’t be drinking while I breastfeed. I know the risks are minimal, and I certainly wouldn’t be judging anyone having a couple of glasses occasionally, but for me it’s an easy choice.
I also found the transition to being a non-smoker relatively pain-free. I’d smoked since I was 15, sometimes could go months between cigarettes but last summer was probably the heaviest I’d ever smoked. I had a cigarette on a Tuesday in mid-October, went away for the weekend and decided on the Friday to start trying for a baby and that was that. Again, I’ve not craved one or had a slip-up or missed it at all. Part of this for me I think is smoking was such a social thing – having one with work mates on a lunch break or going out and having a drink and a cigarette. I don’t really have anyone around me who smokes now so the temptation isn’t there, but I also feel like if having a tiny human depending on you who could potentially be harmed for life by you inhaling isn’t the best reason to quit, what is?
Anyway, this isn’t intended to be a sermon about how good I am for not smoking and drinking! I just felt there was a lot of discussion around ‘giving up’ x/y/z during pregnancy so I’m just throwing my personal experience out there!
Harriet and bump x