The cheesy Cinderella song from the '80s has never been so true as it is in pregnancy. When you make the decision to become pregnant you know from the get-go that there are some things you'll have to forgo for the next 9 (actually 10) months. No booze. No cigarettes. No problem, right? Right. What nobody tells you is that there are a whole lot of other things you're not supposed to do, either.
First and worst are the drugs you're not supposed to take. I was about a week into knowing I was pregnant before I came down with my first sinus infection. What can you take? Nothing that's actually helpful, it turns out. Headaches have also been an issue for me. I've always gotten pretty frequent and painful headaches, sometimes even migraines. Normally I just pop a few ibuprofen or Excedrin and it clears up. Now all I can take is acetaminophen (Tylenol). Are you kidding me? You could just as well feed me sugar pills. I think of all the things I can no longer have, I miss ibuprofen the most.
One that many people don't realize is lunch meats and soft cheeses. Now, the soft cheeses aren't really a problem for me. I eat a lot of cheese, but it's all hard. Lunch meats are another story. (Most throw hot dogs into this category as well, but say hot dogs are safe if heated thoroughly. Is anyone actually NOT heating their hot dogs thoroughly? Because unless you're a dog, you shouldn't be eating uncooked hot dogs to begin with. Sorry.) We eat quite a bit of lunch meat in our house, especially during the summer. A favorite summertime evening meal is a big salad with ham and turkey. And no Subway? Seriously? Apparently there's a risk of getting listeria poisoning from lunch meat, and that's why it's not recommended. You can get around it if the meat is heated to steaming first. I've mostly just avoided lunch meat, but did cave and have a sub once. And yes, I heated the meat first.
Then there's caffeine. Some people are really strict about not consuming any caffeine during pregnancy. (Generally these are the same people who have absolutely no qualms about dyeing their hair during pregnancy, I've noticed.) I've tried to cut down on caffeine, but have not cut it out entirely. Granted, I wasn't guzzling down two pots of coffee a day to start with. From what I've read, 150-300 mg of caffeine a day is safe during pregnancy. If I drink 2 diet Dr. Peppers or Cherry Cokes a day, I'm getting about 70-80 mg a day. Add in chocolate consumption and I'm still safe. I think we all have to pick our battles and set our limits here. A bit of caffeine a day keeps me from getting even more headaches than I already do. I think that's probably better for the baby than me lying in bed for days on end in terrible pain and not being able to eat.
What am I forgetting? Ah, yes ... not laying on your back or your right side. That's a tough one as well. I understand that there are lots of reasons why you shouldn't lie flat on your back or sleep on your back. That's fine. I try not to sleep on my back, but there are times when I wake up that way and I'm not going to freak out about it. I also understand that sleeping on your left side is optimal because it increases blood flow to the placenta. I try to sleep on my left side as much as possible, but I generally am a right-side sleeper. I think I've gotten better at sleeping on my left side, but again, I'm not going to freak out if I wake up on my left side. A wise person once told me that however you can sleep during pregnancy is the best way to sleep. I think that's great advice.
Other things I've been avoiding include cleaning the litter box (no problems there ... I've always avoided cleaning the litter box) and harsh household cleaners. I'm still exercising, but I've cut down on the intensity and try to keep my heart rate from going too high, and also from overheating.
Sometimes it's overwhelming how much there is to remember. I find myself thinking about women 10, 100 or even 1,000 years ago didn't have so many strict rules to follow and many of them still had healthy babies. Every mom-to-be wants to try to do the right thing for her baby, and as long as we're doing our best to ensure that the little one gets a healthy start, that's all that we can ask of ourselves.