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When I first learned I was pregnant, I began reading all the things that were potentially unsafe during pregnancy. With every book and website, I began to feel like there was nothing I could do but drink bottled water and lay in bed for nine months. I had a list of things I couldn’t do – eat sushi, drink alcohol or even have a hotdog at a baseball game. As an active person, my future cast seemed pretty dismal for the next nine months; I felt like I couldn’t participate in my own lifestyle.
I was terrified of contracting listeria, a bacteria that is found in some contaminated foods that can be harmful to the baby, including raw cheeses and cold cuts. The danger of contracting listeria during pregnancy was circulated on just about every website I read for expectant moms. I was sincerely convinced that listeria was going to strike my baby down at any moment. And, let me be clear – I am not a hypochondriac. You’re reading this from author who used to believe that Excedrin Migraine and Robitussin were the easiest cures for just about everything in the world.
Further, I began to think of all the allegedly harmful things that I had done before I knew I was pregnant, such as highlighting my hair, carrying heavy items, drinking caffeine-filled lattes and even having a glass of wine on a few occasions at dinner. I was convinced I had harmed my baby without even knowing it. It was a devastating feeling.
When I went for my first ultrasound, I expected a dragon to appear on the screen. Yet, despite all of the potentially “harmful” things I had done in the first eight weeks, I saw a perfect vision of a healthy, bouncing baby. The idea of a healthy baby had not even occurred to me after I had inadvertently mismanaged my whole first trimester, according to the so-called experts.
After realizing that the “pregnancy experts” weren’t biblical figures, I decided to do something long overdue – I became the “expert” of my own pregnancy. I threw out all of my pregnancy books, called my doctor if I had a question about what is safe for the baby and made a list of all the things I could do while pregnant. Feel free to use my list. And, if you were an “expert” of your own pregnancy, add all of the fabulous things that you found to be safe during your pregnancy to my list.
TRAVEL. Recently, I was reading Leslie Carter’s blog , a mother who chronicles her adventures and travels throughout the world. Let me just say – this woman is awesome and we all could learn a lesson or two about living life to the fullest from her endeavors. And, I did. I scheduled my first trip as a pregnant woman thanks to Leslie Carter’s inspirational site.
After checking airline regulations, I learned there simply was nothing preventing me from traveling in the second trimester in an uncomplicated pregnancy. Some of you may be dreaming of a beach vacation right now. I dreamed of seeing my favorite race horse try to win his next race in Louisiana. Unconventional, yes. But, is it empowering to be able to fly to Louisiana for a less-than-two-minute race and cheer your buddy on at the finish line? You bet.
For my fellow pregnant travelers, the airlines generally follow a basic rule: Traveling is allowed up to 36 weeks and you should bring a note from your doctor verifying that it is safe for you to travel. However, every airline has different rules. Before you check your bags, check with your airline and your doctor. And, don’t be shy – opt for a private search at security. Although some TSA research suggests body scans are safe, there is also research that suggests the radiation has a risk of harmful effects during pregnancy.
INDULGE IN A DECENT CUP OF COFFEE. Many pregnant women have heard that caffeine can have a negative impact on their pregnancy. After checking with my doctor, I kicked the decaf and took a different approach: Moderation. Research studies have indicated that moderate amounts of caffeine during pregnancy do not tend to pose health consequences to the mother or baby. Some sources safely recommend up to two cups or 200 ml a day, while other research has suggested that up to three cups of coffee is perfectly fine. So, if your doctor gives you the green light on moderate levels of caffeine, go ahead and grab a small latte! It may even help alleviate headaches during your pregnancy.
SEX AND INTIMACY. Unless if your doctor advises otherwise, research indicates that sexual intercourse is perfectly safe for the baby. Many couples are afraid that sex may harm the baby. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Your developing baby is protected by the amniotic fluid in your uterus, as well as the strong muscles of the uterus itself. Sexual activity won’t affect your baby.” So, if the mood strikes you, go for it. There is no use in denying yourself sexual pleasure just because you’re pregnant – intimacy with your partner is part of the experience.
PRENATAL PAMPERING. Yes, you’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t indulge in hot tubs or saunas while pregnant. However, this doesn’t mean the spa is off-limits completely. Many sources suggest that a prenatal massage or facial are perfectly fine while pregnant. However, before you book the appointment, make sure the professional knows you are pregnant and only uses pregnancy-safe products. And then, relax mama. Everyone needs a little pampering every now and then.
HIGHLIGHTING YOUR HAIR. It has been said that “a woman’s hair is her glory.” Yet, many women are advised to refrain from highlighting and color treatments during one of the most “glorious” times in their life – pregnancy. Although research suggests that color should not be applied to the scalp, there are plenty of sources that say it is safe to color or highlight if the stylist applies color only to the hair itself. So, before you book a salon appointment, check with your doctor to ensure they believe it is a safe option. If they give their stamp of approval, feel free to start dreaming in color again.
“MIXING IT UP” ON A GIRL’S NIGHT OUT. Since I have been pregnant, I have learned a new talent – “mixology.” My girlfriends without children don’t always pick restaurants or outings that accommodate abstinence from alcohol. However, just because you are abstaining from alcohol, it doesn’t mean you have to give up a good time with your friends. Invent a few virgin cocktails of your own that don’t leave you feeling “left out” at social events. I recommend cranberry juice and Sprite, Pellegrino with a lime or asking the server for their “fun-filled virgin cocktail” options. I haven’t found a single restaurant that couldn’t dream up a creative, non-alcoholic drink yet.
For unique non-alcoholic drinks, feel free to become your own bartender as well. The internet is full of great options, such as recipes for an Amaretto Smoothie, “Angel Punch” and plenty of other creative concoctions.
FINDING A NEW TWIST ON OLD HOBBIES. Recently, my husband and I wanted to go bowling on a date night. We were genuinely confused if it was safe for me to bowl, given the restrictions on pregnant women carrying items heavier than 25 pounds. Although there appeared to be no real restriction (since I don’t use a 26 lb. bowling ball), it just didn’t seem like good common sense. So instead of the ball, we opted for a remote and played Wii bowling.
Is there some high demand for pregnant women to go bowling? I suppose not. But, the point is that being creative can lead to a compromise that doesn’t force you to completely toss the pursuits that you enjoyed prior to your pregnancy. In the end game, you are still you. There is no point in giving up your hobbies that you enjoy if you can find a simple compromise that doesn’t harm the baby.
Let’s talk!!! Send us some comments about ideas for fun or creative pursuits that are safe for pregnant women. Make a comment here or visit us on Facebook at Ms. Mom.