Whatever Happened to Being Pregnant and Being Normal?Wednesday, March 4th, 2009
M.I.A sang and danced onstage at the Grammy’s while she was 9 months pregnant with a giant, beautiful belly. I just have to say “good for her”. Believe it or not, she didn’t really do anything so unusual. This is what she does. Actually, it is part of her career. It was hard not to miss all the press surrounding this seemingly dramatic act. Later I read the shocking headline, “M.I.A. has contractions before Grammys”. Oh, come on. It is perfectly normal to have contractions late in pregnancy and they have nothing to do with labor. This is just another example of how little is understand about pregnancy and how far we have drifted off course.
I am going to share a conversation with you that I overheard recently.
“The only thing I really do that is controversial is related to what I eat. A few times I’ve had cold lunchmeat and didn’t get sick, and there were a few weeks in there where the only kind of eggs I wanted were over easy, so I ate them, but only at home where I knew that my food was being handled properly. A couple of times I’ve had blue cheese dressing without thinking, too. The only other thing is that instead of getting a flu shot I’ve been taking a regimen of vitamin C and Echinacea (the Echinacea tincture is prepared in alcohol)–but that was specifically given to me by my homeopath, who knows I’m pregnant, and the Echinacea is only in small amounts. There are so many foods people will tell you to watch out for, including ones that I’ve eaten my entire life and never gotten sick off them (like undercooked eggs), I figure once in a while is not going to be a big risk. “
Aachh! If you can’t hear me, I am screaming at the moment in front of my laptop. For as much as the Internet has opened the floodgates for us to access amazing amounts of information, there is also an unprecedented amount of misinformation and quite frankly, cr_p out there. Sorry about that, I just couldn’t think of a more appropriate word.
These days, many pregnant women believe they should not eat cold cuts, ANY kind of soft cheese, eggs, fish and who knows what’s next. The reasons seem to be many. Let’s start with cheese and cold cut meats. This information apparently is due to the risk of getting food poisoning from the bacterium listeria. It is absolutely true that a person can become seriously ill if they do develop listeriosis from the bacteria. I checked the Food and Drug Administration’s website which cited the number of listeriosis cases in the U.S. Let’s look at the facts as to how likely it is to become infected. Approximately 2500 people per year develop listeriosis here in the U.S., with about 1/3 of those being pregnant women. Listeria is a bacteria that can be found in certain types of unpasteurized cheese, improperly refrigerated deli meats and raw eggs. 4 million women are pregnant each year. 4 million! That means that your risk of developing listeriosis is 188 people/per million or .0002 %.
How about eating fish? Yes it is true that people have developed liver flukes from poorly handled sushi. Reputable sushi restaurants that use fresh fish do not have sushi that has liver flukes in it. If you live near one of the Great Lakes your practitioner will let you know if you should limit your intake of certain types of fish (due to a higher level of mercury in some).
Ok—what about a flu shot? Yes, you SHOULD get a flu shot. Women are definitely at greater risk if they develop influenza during pregnancy. The vaccine is not a “live” virus and there is no risk of infection from the vaccine itself AND, sure vitamin C is good to have in your vitamins but Echinacea has been shown, in several well controlled studies, to have absolutely no impact on a virus such as the common cold.
Why do I get so fired up about these sorts of things? Because they are so completely fear-based. Remember “mad cow” disease? A total of 180 people were affected and entire countries stopped eating beef! We seem to have lost our common sense and have simply taken “as fact” what we read or what someone tells us. Simply said, be sensible. Eat pasteurized food, please have that roast-beef sandwich if you like and don’t be afraid to put a nice glob of blue cheese dressing on your salad.