Friday, January 22, 2016

7 Pregnancy Rules to Keep and Break

I've been thinking lately about pregnancy rules to keep or break. 

This is a stock photo.  Not me. I have never had long, blond hair.

Some moms seem to obsessively keep all the rules and worry about everything.  No deli meat, no brie, no alcohol, no roller coasters, no medicine, no herbs, no heavy exercise, no hot tubs, no cat care, etc., etc.

Other moms seems to throw caution to the wind and continue on their normal life.

Me...I'm somewhere in the middle.

Here is a list of the rules of rules I do or do not keep during pregnancy.  I try to look at everything with a risk/benefit analysis and understand the reason behind the recommendation and then make a decision going from there. 

1). Rollarcoasters:  I don't ride them...ever.  I wouldn't ride a rollarcoaster non-pregnant, so, I never really worried about that rule.  Plus, I think the last time I was at an amusement park was back in 2010, there are not places I frequent with any sort of frequency.    The concern with rollarcoasters is that jarring and sudden movements could cause placental abruption (which is very serious).   From what I have read, there haven't really been studies showing that rollarcoasters cause harm, but also no studies showing they are safe.  The concern is more theoretical.  That said....placental abruption can occur with hard jolts or stops (such as in a car accident).   Personally, I never gave much thought to them because I hate them anyway. So, I'm not sure what I would do if I actually liked the things and actually went to amusement parks. 

2.) Deli Meat, Unpasteurized Cheese, Raw Eggs:    The concern here is the risk of food poisoning, which can be very serious while pregnant.  If the bacteria gets into the bloodstream and crosses the placenta, it can cause miscarriage, stillbirth and other horrible things.   Personally, I don't risk it.  I don't eat those foods with any sort of frequency anyway and I don't find it that difficult to avoid them.  And I do think the risk is great enough to take some precautions.   I actually think food poisoning is more common than we think, it's just that most of the time it's pretty mild...maybe a slight stomach-ache, mild diarrhea, just a slight disturbance but nothing we really notice or realize that is food poisoning.  So, I do try to take some care, although I have been known to still eat a tiny bit of raw cookie dough. That's a hard habit to break!

3). Alcohol and Caffeine:  Pregnant or non-pregnant, I only drink the occasional glass of wine (like once every few months).  So I continue drinking the occasional glass of wine.  Alcohol is one of those things that has to have a cumulative effect to be harmful.  You have to drink A LOT of it to have any harmful effects. 

I rarely drink anything with caffeine anyway, so I never worried about avoiding it while pregnant.  I definitely think it is one of those things where the effect is cumulative, so I only drink it occasionally, I still only drink it occasionally.  I do eat chocolate however on a more than occasional basis.  So, I do get some caffeine that way. 

4). Cat Care:  The concern with cat care is the risk of toxoplasmosis which can be transferred from cats to human via their feces.   You can also pick it up from gardening or working with dirt, so it's not just cats.  I have read that about 1/3 of all American woman are immune to this, after having previous exposure.  If you have previous exposure, you wouldn't really know as it generally doesn't cause symptoms.   I've been around cats most of my life, have worked at farms and vet's offices, so I figure I have a good chance of already being immune.

Furthermore, indoor cats that don't go outside also have a low risk of toxoplasmosis.  Unlike our old bad cat that used to sneak out all the time, our new, good cat never tries to go outside.

Even furthermore, it takes 1-5 days for the bacteria in the feces to become infectious, so daily cleaning reduces the risk even more.  

So with all that in mind,  I clean my cat's litter box with careless abandon.  Well, not careless abandon, I do take care to wash my hands, but also if I didn't clean it, I don't think anyone else would.  

5). Hot Tubs: The concern here is if the body temperature is raised above 102 degrees, it could be dangerous. That actually makes sense.  And I have no idea why anyone would want to get hot enough to actually experience hyperthermia.  That just doesn't seem like fun to me.  This is quite different from a hot bath.  A hot bath you take at home isn't going to be nearly as hot as an actual hot tub and isn't going to actually raise your core body temperature.  

6). Exercise/Hard Work:   From everything I've read, most healthy women should remain active during pregnancy and keep up their normal level of activity as much as they can.  So, I do.  I basically do everything physically I did before pregnancy.   It's really not that easy to hurt a baby from physical activity.  It would take actual hard, jarring movement (like in a car crash or severe fall), not just regular activity like running, jumping, carrying a toddler, shoveling snow or mowing the lawn.  That whole Scarlet O'Hara fall scene.  That's fiction.   Probably one shouldn't try to lift up cars or do anything they wouldn't normally do, but I do believe regular activity is beneficial and good.  So, I still do interval training, ab exercise, core exercise, strength training.  Nothing crazy...just moderate exercises to comfort.   I'm not one of those people who is always pushing themselves or likes to feel like they are dead after exercising, but I do like to remain active.   I'm a firm believer in the importance of regular exercise throughout pregnancy. I definitely think it makes for an easier labor and birth.  My hardest birth was definitely the one I was least active during that pregnancy and my easiest one was the one where I was regularly walking about 6 miles a day up to delivery. 

7) Herbs/Vitamins/Nutritional Supplements/Medications:  If I think a nutritional supplement, herb or vitamin will be helpful, I don't automatically discount taking it just because the bottle says to consult your doctor if you are pregnant.   Instead I do research, read up on it and talk with a doctor or midwife, but I don't automatically discount something just because it hasn't been extensively tested on pregnant woman.  Of course its a risk/ benefit analysis, just like everything.

Medications: For the most part, I avoid taking medications (like Tylenol, cold medications) pregnant or not.   IF I do occasionally take something, I just consult that handy little list I got from the OB/midwife office.   But, I also think you need to use common sense.  There is a difference between taking one dose of Tylenol every few months and taking frequently it twice a week.

Bonus:   Cell Phones/Microwaves/Computers/Paint/Cleaning Supplies:   I think this is one where you need to use common sense.  Pregnant or not, I don't keep cell phones on my body, always off my body, like in a purse.  Which is why if you call me, I might not hear it.  Sorry.  I don't use a laptop on my lap.  Pregnant or not, I avoid exposure to paint and toxic cleaning supplies.  I don't spray Lysol all over the house, I'm certainly not about to paint and I usually clean with just water and vinegar (or just water).   Germ-a-phobe I am not.   I don't do anything special while pregnant to avoid toxic chemicals/radiation, etc.  I just try to avoid it all the time.  I definitely do not think that small exposure is harmful......I think this is more a dose-dependent thing.  Occasional painting is completely different than if you have a job painting houses. 

So, reading through this list, I guess the summary is that about the only thing I do different while pregnant is I do avoid certain foods with an increased risk of food poisoning.   Otherwise I do pretty much the same as usual....take care of the cat, workout, and avoid too many chemicals. 

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