When you announce your pregnancy, it's as though everyone you know suddenly becomes an expert in all things baby. You'll be on the receiving end of unsolicited advice, swimming in unwanted tips and tricks from practically everyone you know or meet. There were certainly more than a few pieces of advice I'm glad I ignored when I got pregnant in my 30s, especially since so much of the well-intentioned suggestions thrown my way were totally outdated, ridiculous, or just plain wrong.
I got pregnant for the first time when I was 33 years old. I was already established in my career, I had been married for almost a decade, owned a home, and had a cat to care for. In other words, I felt mature and experienced enough to have a baby, and while it's truly impossible to know absolutely everything there is to know about parenting, I didn't think I really needed too much additional advice to make my way through motherhood.
Don't get me wrong, if any of my new mom friends had tips and tricks they wanted to throw in my direction, I was all ears. I certainly asked my own mom for her advice, too, and I read a ridiculous amount of pregnancy and baby care books. What I didn't care for, however, was the old wives tales and scientifically unsound tidbits that were "gifted" to me from colleagues, neighbors, and even strangers. So, with that in mind, here's some pieces of "advice" I'm so very glad I ignored.
The "You Should Eat For Two" Piece Of Advice
OK, this one was hard to ignore, because who doesn't want a free pass to overindulge? However, experts suggest you only need to increase your daily calorie intake to 300, or even 350, in your second trimester, and by 500 when you're in your third trimester.
In the end, I'm really glad I didn't "eat for two." Instead, I was able to focus on eating healthy and maintaining a nutritious diet that was best for me and my baby.
The "You Can't Drink Coffee" Piece Of Advice
While I stand by "to each their own," recent studies suggest that, in moderation, caffeine is not harmful to pregnant women and their babies. Formal guidelines suggest one 12 oz cup of coffee per day is a safe amount to consume.
I love coffee so much and, in my 30s, I had gained enough confidence in myself to not be swayed by other peoples opinions. When a stranger stopped me in a cafe to ask if I should be drinking coffee, I simply smiled sweetly and answered, "Yep!"
The "Don't Eat Chocolate" Piece Of Advice
I actually had someone tell me I should not eat chocolate while pregnant. Chocolate? It's practically a separate food group, as far as I am concerned, and I simply cannot live without it. I consumed a range of healthy, nutritious foods, and a regular dose of chocolate, with a big smile on my face.
This person was seriously taking their life in their hands when they tried to pry chocolate away from a hormonal pregnant woman, that's all I'm saying.
The "You Can't Work Out" Piece Of Advice
Obviously, pregnant women should consult with their doctors before beginning any new fitness routines. It also makes sense to make sure your work out is safe for your new, changing body. Having said that, banning workouts just because you're pregnant is unnecessary. All pregnancies are different, and certain pregnancies present certain complications, but if you were working out regularly before you were pregnant and your pregnancy is "normal," you should be fine to continue physical activity.
I continued to run, do yoga, and paddle in dragon boat races throughout my pregnancy. Honestly, I'm so glad I did.
The "Swap Your Heels For Flats" Piece Of Advice
For the majority of my pregnancy, I stuck to flat shoes for comfort. On rare occasions when I headed out for an event or a night out and switched to stilettos, however, I would have some busy body suggest I shouldn't be wearing heels.
This "suggestion" brought loads of unwanted attention to both me and my outfit, and made me feel singled out. At 33, I was sure of myself and could make my own wardrobe decisions without any assistance, thank you very much.
The "Only Sleep On Your Left Side" Piece Of Advice
Sleeping on your left side allows better blood circulation to the uterus. However, once you're asleep it's almost impossible not to move or roll around to whatever feels most comfortable for you and your body. This so-called rule just makes us pregnant women crazy and paranoid about something we can't really control anyway.
The "Don't Get Upset" Piece Of Advice
When I was pregnant,"helpful" people were constantly telling me I shouldn't get upset or angry because it was "bad for the baby."
You guys, come on. A fetus in utero is resilient, and won't be negatively impacted by pregnancy hormones. Some stress when you're pregnant is, well, normal. Yes, if you're in a particularly high stress situation, it can impact the fetus. According to Web MD, your body goes into "fight or flight" mode when you're stressed, thus preparing you to run by sending a blast of fuel to your muscles and making your heart pump faster. "There are some data to show that higher chronic stressors in women and poor coping skills to deal with those stressors may be associated with lower birth weight and with delivering earlier," says Ann Borders to Web MD, an OB/GYN in the obstetrics and gynecology department, Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, at Evanston Hospital, NorthShore University HealthSystem.
So, yes, a high level of stress can make a difference, but the run-of-the mill stressors of every day life (and your pregnancy hormones) aren't going to negatively impact your growing baby.
The "Don't Have Sex" Piece Of Advice
Unless you're specifically told by your doctor to refrain from sexual intercourse when you're pregnant, there is no reason why this part of your relationship should end while you're growing another human being inside your body (unless, of course, you don't want to have sex, because consent). If you feel like getting it on, as many pregnant women do, go ahead and enjoy yourself!
As I've aged I've developed my own self-confidence and self-assurance. I know what matters to me, I research things for myself, and I am not afraid to say when I disagree. While I appreciate any advice more experienced moms might have to share, I know I can cherry pick the tips that work for me while happily ignoring the rest.