Pregnancy Diary Week 7: Abstinence

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Week 7

This week I am once again embracing the abstinence of pregnancy. Well, I say embracing but really I mean slightly awkwardly air kissing, with minimal bodily contact. With my first pregnancy I avoided alcohol, blue cheese and unpasteurised cheese, pâté, cured meat, runny eggs, rare steak and caffeine — all the really good stuff. Oh and ibuprofen, which I think also counts as the good stuff now I’m in my thirties and don’t get out as much as I used to. My impressive show of will power was partly due to logical caution, partly due to fear, and partly due to terrible guilt, having spent the first nine weeks of my pregnancy in blissful ignorance, guzzling wine and eating bucket loads of all of the above. My friends have all approached the abstinence thing in slightly different ways and I know plenty of mums who have become progressively less diligent for each of their pregnancies. I guess by the third time, you are kind of done with not eating brie as brie is bloody amazing. And today I feel particularly weak willed, battling through the morning routine, rainy nursery run and miserable commute with a streaming cold to add to my waves of nausea, stomach cramps and general bodily malfunctions. All I want to do is curl up under a duvet with the latest series of Orange is the New Black, dose myself up on Sudafed and eat copious amounts of charcuterie. I’m middle class, that’s how I roll. With some of the advice, the research isn’t completely conclusive and recommendations have yo-yoed back and forth for years, which is why I’m still not averse to the odd dry roasted peanut or twenty. I think in relatively recent years the guidelines on eating peanuts during pregnancy have fluctuated pretty wildly. Several years back we were strongly warned against eating any peanuts, products containing peanuts or traces of peanuts, and even instructed to avoid referring to unborn children with the affectionate term “peanut” (safer terms such as: “bump”, “bean”, “nugget”, “alien invader” or just “baby” being preferable). The advice then seemed to change to active encouragement of peanut eating and ideally a sponsorship deal with KP. Now it’s more of a happy medium and the guidelines suggest not eating peanuts only if you have a family history of peanut allergies. Given the varied advice, perhaps the best thing to do with regard to eating peanuts is whatever the hell you think. Another change is around eggs (those laid by fowl, not those eaten at Easter, which have always been very much OK). My heart skipped a beat when my midwife told me that runny eggs are now good to go (as long as they have the British Lion Quality stamp). Result. There were times when I could have bloody murdered for a dippy egg during my first pregnancy. However open to interpretation or change some of the advice is, there are some recommendations that are pretty clear and unwavering. This week I was asked to go to Brasil for work. I know, get me. My first reaction was: “Hooray!” as samba music played inside my head and I thought of the excitement of visiting a new country and ticking off another continent from my bucket list. However, after stopping for a few minutes to think about the practicalities of me jetting off to South America, I vaguely remembered hearing some news horror story about Zika virus and its dangers to pregnant woman. After checking the government guidelines my suspicions were confirmed and apparently Brasil is a high risk destination for Zika virus. As a result, pregnant women are strongly advised to postpone non-essential travel due to the risk of birth defects. Shit. Potential symptoms of Zika syndrome in babies include joints with limited motion (not ideal), muscle problems (not sounding great either), retinal damage or blindness (alarm bells), decreased brain tissue (slightly concerning), and partially collapsed skulls (!!!), which kinda dampened the samba horns for me. So, after a few awkward conversations at work and some fabricated excuses, I’m not going to bloody Brasil. So all in all, a bit of a shitter of a week. I’m off to console myself with a soft boiled egg and soldiers and some binge watching of Breaking Bad (I’ve got a toddler, I’m behind, OK). Excessive TV viewing of illicit drug taking, violence and bad language during pregnancy doesn’t break any rules, erm… right?!