Like most moms-to-be, I left my first prenatal appointment with a list of foods to avoid during pregnancy. Most of the "suggestions" seemed reasonable. I mean, I'm relatively sure no one should drink raw milk or eat raw shellfish, pregnant or not. Others — like cutting out soft cheese and runny eggs — seemed unfair. So, yeah, I ate some foods I was told to avoid during my pregnancy. I'm not alone, either. I asked other moms to admit to the food they still ate during pregnancy that was officially off-limits. Look, a pregnant woman can only handle so much, people.
According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), there are foods you should skip during your pregnancy for some pretty legit reasons. Things like raw or rare meat, deli meat, raw fish, soft cheeses, and raw milk can make you sick, resulting in illnesses like salmonella, toxoplasmosis, and listeria, which not only suck for you, but can cause miscarriage or other pregnancy complications. And other foods and beverages, like certain types of fish or drinks containing alcohol, can cause developmental delays in your baby, according to the APA. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends limiting caffeine to 200 mg a day, which is only one cup of coffee, you guys, and the APA recommends dropping caffeine entirely when you are pregnant.
For the record, I'm definitely not advocating you going against your doctor's orders. I will, however, let you in on a little secret: it's entirely up to you. People still have bodily autonomy after they get pregnant. So while I think it's smart to follow diet recommendations made by experts and doctors, it’s also none of my business if a pregnant woman drinks four lattes a day, orders sushi, or has an occasional glass of wine. If they decide to eat strange, gross, or seemingly unhealthy things while pregnant, that's their choice. I pretty much always recommend that people follow their doctor's advice, but if they choose not to, I won't judge them. Besides, that would be pretty hypocritical of me, since I'm the woman who survived on fried carbs, sour candy, and Diet Coke during her last two pregnancies. What? I simply couldn't keep anything else down.
Read on for some real-life moms, making real-life confessions about eating foods during pregnancy that were totally against the rules. Just try to keep your judgement to a minimum.
"Soft cheese, soft serve ice cream, smoked salmon, salad bar sandwiches, gallons of tea."
"First pregnancy in the first trimester, I was very hungry for a Lunchable. I washed that sucker down with an iced coffee. It was great, and something that didn't nauseate me."
"First pregnancy, it was salt and vinegar Pringles, with a wedge of watermelon in between: not that it was ‘shouldn’t be eaten,’ but my obstetrician thought it was plain gross. Second pregnancy, it was sushi. I couldn’t get enough of it."
"Lunch meat, sushi, coffee (cut my intake in half but that's not saying much). I ate anything as long as I trusted the source. Most of the rules are to avoid Listeria, which is a valid concern, but the last three outbreaks I've heard of have been in hummus, ice cream, and salad — none of which are 'banned' during pregnancy."
"All the seasoned curly fries Jack in the Box has, coffee, McDonald’s hash browns. And I dyed my hair."
"All the soft brie."
"I was living in Japan and knew my sushi chef really well. He said Japanese pregnant women don't eat sushi or sashimi in the first trimester and only young fish thereafter. So, I ate a ton of crunchy salmon rolls and salmon sashimi with baby one and two. I was living stateside with my third baby, and I can't eat American sushi after living in Japan. Ack!"
"Sushi. Our local place lets you watch preparation and replaces the food frequently. Sometimes you just need a couple rolls."
"Towards the end of my pregnancy my glucose levels were high but not high enough for gestational diabetes, so they told me to cut out the sweets. I was drinking a gallon of chocolate milk a day, and lots of Reese's products. I cut it down but I still had a candy bar every other day. It was too hard to give up."
"Sushi, sushi, sushi, sushi, sushi."
"Coffee, alcohol, sushi. I pretty much ignored all verboten comestibles."
"I ate seafood, soft-serve ice cream, deli meats, and pepperoni. I didn't know any different at the time. Oh, and I also ate chalk in my first pregnancy. Weirdest craving."
"Lunch meat. I wanted so much Subway. Sushi, too, but I didn’t know it wasn’t a big deal to eat it from a reputable place until 36 weeks. Also, all the coffee."
"I ate deli turkey because I couldn't stand the smell of any hot food for a while. Also, soft-serve ice cream towards the end because I had no idea I wasn't supposed to eat it. I got to about 37 weeks before someone told me, and at that point, I just went with it."
"First kid it was only lunch meat. Which I microwaved. Gross. Second kid was coffee, soda, soft-serve ice cream, and (doctor's orders) wine to 'calm my preterm contractions." Who am I to argue with a doctor, right?"
"I had probably twice as much caffeine as before, instead of cutting back, because I was the most tired I had ever been in my life. How would I function otherwise?"
"My honeymoon took place two months after my wedding, and in that window of time I got pregnant. Our honeymoon was in Rome. There was no way I wasn’t going to drink wine and espresso when in Rome. So I indulged, in moderation, and my amazing son is the result four years later."
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.