Funny thing about being pregnant (which I’m totally not – Hi Honey!), everyone has advice for you. And I mean everyone. Even your 65-year-old never-been-married nor-had-a-kid-who-looks-suspiciously-like-him postman.
There was the good (“Wipe him down with a scented baby wipe just before people come to visit – that way they’ll think he just had a bath. You look like a great mom AND hygienic.”), the bad (“Feed your baby peanut butter right from the beginning. That way he’ll get used to it and never have peanut allergies.”), and the just plain whaaaa…? (“Don’t raise your arms above your head or your baby will get tangled in his umbilical cord.”)
Hands-down the weirdest thing anyone ever said to me when I was pregnant:
Single Male Coworker: (points to my belly) So does he cry a lot? You know when he’s hungry and stuff?
Me: (stunned silence) Well seeing as vocal cords need air to produce noise and he’s encased in bag of warm liquid (recycled baby pee if you want to be precise) then… no.
Him: (aghast) But how does he breathe?!?
Me: (loving it now) He has gills. Evolution, duh!
For all I know John is out there right now sharing his little tidbit of knowledge with some other middle-school health class flunkie.
Pregnancy Is Not An Illness
But the most irritating advice I got while pregnant? Almost all about exercise. People were simultaneously amused, horrified and outraged when they saw me jogging around my block, rock climbing (which I only did up to my 8th month), kick boxing and doing headstands in yoga – all the way until delivery, baby!
People would tell me on the weight floor that I shouldn’t lift more than 10 pounds (um, hello, my toddler weighs 40). My kickboxing instructor told me to keep my heart rate under 130 – which for me was achieved just by tying my shoes. A woman in my yoga class told me all the jarring would make my baby motion sick – and hey, maybe she’s right, he did spend the first six months puking on me. People everywhere told me I should take it easy, relax, pick nursery colors.
Placentas and Paella
After my third son was born, my OB declared that I had the biggest placenta she’d ever seen. Best compliment anyone could’ve given me at that moment! I’d show you a picture, but somehow no one wanted to take one for me. (For those of you non-gestating types, the placenta is the organ that delivers oxygen & nutrients to the baby. It is birthed right after the baby. Then sometimes made into a placenta paella and served to guests. Kidding!)
Turns out I was right to keep exercising at the level I was comfortable with. A new study shows that women who exercise at a “moderately intense” level during pregnancy have healthier hearts than non-exercising mamas. And the benefit is passed on to their child as babies born to exercising moms had lower and more robust heartbeats at every stage of pregnancy. It is thought that this effect leads to stronger hearts well after delivery.
Exercise is good for everyone, including pregnant women. BUT – and there’s a list of warnings so long it makes the Alli booklet look like a refrigerator magnet – you should always always listen to your doctor and to your instincts. Women with high-risk pregnancies obviously shouldn’t work out hard, or even at all, depending on what restrictions they are on. Women with crazy bad morning sickness (mine was only moderately bad) are also excused, if only for the reason that it’s hard to run and puke at the same time. Don’t exercise in extreme temperatures. Don’t get dehydrated. Don’t sit in hot tubs. Don’t eat lunch meat or soft cheese. (Listeria! Hellooo! How are you ever going to be able to care for an infant if you can’t even remember the 2,000 things you aren’t supposed to consume?)
Just be smart about it.