Pregnant women are smart enough to decide how to eat

Nov 4, 2014 at 3:00 p.m. ET
Image: JarekJoepera/iStock/360/Getty Images

If you've ever been pregnant before, then you've been treated like an idiot. As a pregnant woman, I was beyond frustrated by all of the official recommendations that tell pregnant women to stay away from potentially dangerous substances like coffee, wine and sushi. The truth is — these foods and drinks can be enjoyed during pregnancy in moderation. Pregnant women are smart enough to read research and decide for themselves.

The pregnancy paradox is interesting. On the one hand, it's wonderful that women are so concerned about their health for nine months. Long gone are the days of chain-smoking and pounding whiskey during pregnancy. Women are conscientious and read research journals like trashy romance novels. They want to know what's going on with their body and their baby, and that's a good thing.

But putting a baby inside you does not automatically disqualify your critical thinking skills. There are plenty of don'ts that a pregnant woman has to watch out for the moment she pees on a stick — raw fish, deli meat, soft cheese, caffeine, alcohol, intense exercise, intense sex and rock climbing come to mind.

Before I was pregnant, I had the ability to make educated decisions in all of these categories. I understood that it probably wasn't a good idea to eat sushi from a gas station. I might get sick. I also understood that it wasn't good for my body to binge drink day after day. I might damage my liver.

As soon as I got pregnant, the pregnancy police were on duty, both online and in person. I read the research and talked with my midwives to make a decision that my husband and I were comfortable with. I chose to drink two measured glasses of wine per week throughout my pregnancy, as well as two measured cups of coffee per day. I still exercised a week past my due date. I ate raw fish and soft cheese whenever I felt like it.

There's plenty of information out there for pregnant women who want to make these decisions. There's also an invaluable resource in your doctor — talk about the food and drink you can enjoy in moderation and make a choice you're both comfortable with.

Pregnant women have it all at their fingertips, thanks to the magic of the internet. A pregnant woman, like me, who chooses to drink an allotted amount per week based on medical advice and extensive research is not the same as the stereotypical pregnant alcohol abuser everyone fears.

Let's lighten up and put risk in perspective. There are many decisions that a pregnant woman has to make for herself during pregnancy, and I'd wager that 99 percent of women are capable of doing so. If you see a pregnant woman drinking a glass of wine and eating sushi, take a beat. She's thought it through. She's made an educated decision. She cares about her baby more than you do.

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