26 June 2016, by Tan Li Lin

Enough of all these Pregnancy Dos & Dont’s!

This post goes out to all the soon-to-be-mummies who’ve found that life as a Preggy isn’t made easier with a long, detailed list of prescriptive ‘Dos’ & ‘Do Nots’ to be confined within. Already with our hormones and physical changes taking control of our lives, options of what we’d like to eat and do are somewhat reduced – but add on an ever-growing checklist put together by all breeds of ‘experts’ and you might find your preggy life not that enjoyable.

Here’s what I mean. And if you’re the kind who’s really into superstition and hearsay, you might not agree with what I’m saying here, and that’s okay. Ploughing through loads of pregnancy forums, I’ve found and come to respect that truly ‘to each mother, her own’ – because we’re all really so different and no 2 journeys are the same. After 6 months of finding myself and my footing, this is my current view of where the lines are drawn to differentiate between ‘living my preggy life in fear’ and ‘living my life, full-stop’.

Traveling while pregnant

Today, there’s no where you can go without some sort of danger that you’re being warned about…

USA, Europe, Africa/Egypt/Turkey: Social unrest and terrorism… “you could get bombed!!”

South America, USA, Pan Asia: Zika virus (yes, including popular Babymoon spots like Bali and Thailand)… “you could get bitten!!”

Japan: Radiation… “aren’t you afraid of radiation damage??”

Everywhere else in the world: Anything goes… “no good medical care/far from hospital/not clean/dangerous/get robbed/freaky weather/dubious food”, including the unnerving number of planes falling out of the sky over the last few years.

The truth is – and statistics back this up easily – stepping out of your door and getting onto the roads poses a much higher threat to your safety than all the above mentioned. That makes sense, and it’s true that such major events are tragic and thus dramatized, but everyday threats are much closer to us than we actually pay attention to. So, don’t let fear-mongers douse your fire to explore and get out there!

Listeria hysteria

Literally! I mean there’s so much hysteria hype around what we can eat and can’t eat. When Ronald and I were considering a trip to Japan for our babymoon, the first response was “but you can’t eat the food there!” (usually followed by “what about the radiation??!”). So I researched late one night for 2 hours straight when I couldn’t sleep, tearing through ALL the sites on the first 25 pages of google, reading forums, articles and white papers. Yes. Research papers. And there is no basis or conclusive link to any specific food you shouldn’t eat – even seafood, raw food, salads and alcohol.

In short… (because I’m a Google researcher only and I suck at recalling numbers.)

(i) Listeria happens when you eat something ‘dirty’, which could be anything really, like when you popped that whatever in your mouth without washing your hands prior

(ii) Listeria happens to anyone, pregnant or not, and out of the number of people reported per year to have come down with Listeria, only a handful of that are pregnant women

Much like the Zika virus (at least here in Asia, because I’m really not sure what the South America mozzies are made of – I read they bred in toxic waters from chemicals the government dumped into the water bodies there), Listeria could affect your fetus. ‘Could’ is very different from ‘Will’, which is what our minds translate as, due to our raging mother instincts.

Alcohol + 1001 things you can’t eat

There’s barely anyone who has seen me take a sip of Rosé and NOT gasp: “But, you’re pregnant! Aren’t you not supposed to drink??” See. Even non-pregnant peeps continue to keep putting it out there. I suppose it appears more taboo here in Singapore because we don’t drink wine as frequently as Europeans/Australians/Anyone else in the world who can get their hands on booze for less $$ than water, but in these countries generations of Mothers have claimed they drank and “see, you turned out fine”. Can’t argue with that. However, of course, together with Caffeine – and pretty much everything else we eat – it should all be taken in controlled portions. Find out what that is through your own research (I read Doctors have okayed up to 3 glasses a week).

Speaking of eating in controlled portions…

Pregnancy = Everyday is Buffet Day

Yes you can, but don’t freak out if your Gynae warns you to cut down on your calories or resort to a Cesarean because baby’s overweight. Several people have exclaimed gleefully that “I can now eat for two!”, obviously living their food-tasies vicariously through me. Eating for two doesn’t mean eating twice as much. Pregnant women only need an additional 300 calories a day. That equates to about 1 Tau Hway or 3 pieces of Siew Mai or 1 curry puff. But some women use pregnancy as an excuse to gorge and treat everyday like a buffet.

Giving things some deep thought

Back to the point that everyday habits much closer to us pose more of a safety or health threat than what you read in the news or on ALL THE PREGNANCY SITES.

My gripe with these sites is that they all copy each other almost word for word – If you read through at least 10 pregnancy sites on a daily basis and you would’ve realised that too. This might be because there isn’t a lot of conclusive scientific findings related to pregnancy out there to copy from. I reckon it’s also because content sites need exactly that – Content. Writers need to craft something out of a bit of a something. Unfortunately a lot of it instills anxiety and worry because well – we’re carrying life within us, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. I still have yet to come across sites or Apps that tell me “Have a blast! Don’t worry! Stop worrying so much! Life isn’t any different being pregnant! Have fun and live it up!”

Scares come from rare cases – a sliver of the % of pregnant women worldwide if you think about it – that put health experts or doctors in a position to have to dish out advice to ‘stick on the safe side’.

The truth is, a lot of pregnancy advice lacks strong conclusive scientific backing because its sensitive running experiments on pregnant women for obvious reasons, which leaves conclusions put forth based on association more than anything.

I’ve struggled through decisions to make that’s associate with being pregnant. The most recent was whether we should cancel our trip to Bali due to the Australian government issuing a travel advisory to pregnant women warning them of Zika in Indonesia. I did some research, consulted my Gynae, called the airline to enquire about cancellation policies… and eventually decided we are going ahead just 1 day before. It’s taken several months and decisions to land at this ‘motto’ that I have now, which I think is always ‘learning in progress’.

Much of pregnancy boils down to simple everyday awareness – eating right in balanced portions, practicing hygiene and paying attention to your surroundings to ensure your own safety 🙂 Being preggers shouldn’t reduce your quality of life or hinder your enjoyment or be a reason others dictate how you live your life. You’re the mummy and you know what’s best for you based on your own self-understanding! So I say:

Go out there! Live it up! Enjoy your pregnancy! Don’t use it as a reason to hold yourself back (maybe except the everyday-is-a-buffet part….)! I’m utterly sure your baby will have a whale of a time accompanying you on top of all that adventure it’s having inside you! (ouch)

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