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On Having a Panic-Free Pregnancy

I’m sure this will come as an OUTRAGEOUS surprise to all of you, but I am rather Type A.  Hah.  I can’t tell you how many friends and family members have commented, “I cannot believe how calm you’ve been about pregnancy… I thought you would be, um, different.”  As in, they thought I would be totally freaked out and controlling, which is a fair assessment given my personality.  But I haven’t been!  I’ve been really relaxed and laidback about most things.

Click through to read about the things that I have chosen not to stress out over: 

  • Weight gain — Online calculators like this one are helpful for determine whether or not you’re anywhere close to a ‘healthy weight gain’ for pregnancy, but I have been consistently at the top of the graph or beyond my entire pregnancy i.e. I’m gaining weight ‘faster than I should be.’  While maintaining a healthy weight gain is important for my health and the health of the baby, I’m clearly not going nuts eating ice cream sundaes, soda, and pie every day for every meal.  I’m eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly, so if my weight is a little higher than it’s ‘supposed’ to be… who cares?  My body just doesn’t fit neatly into some chart.  I’m not going to stress over it.
  • No-No Foods and Caffeine I wrote two posts on this very topic early in my pregnancy — Food Rules and Pregnancy and Giving Up the Java (While Pregnant). While pregnant, you can’t eat soft cheese, you can’t drink coffee, you shouldn’t eat sprouts, you shouldn’t do this or that… or so ‘they’ say.  And EVERYONE ‘knows’ these rules and will inform you that you’re breaking one if, God forbid, you order a latte at Starbucks with a visible baby bump (seriously, this happened to me).  One of the books that really changed my perspective on these rules was The Panic-Free Pregnancy: An OB-GYN Separates Fact from Fiction on Food, Exercise, Travel, Pets, Coffee, Medications, and Concerns You Have When You Are Expecting, which educated me about the reasoning behind the rules and the odds that the ‘bad things’ will happen to you.  Am I going to eat soft cheese that’s been sitting in the sun for five hours?  Um, no.  But I wouldn’t do that when I wasn’t pregnant, either.  I’m not going to freak myself out over every single thing that passes my lips because, quite frankly, the odds of something bad happening are low.  To each their own, of course.
  • Sleeping on My Back or Right Side: When I first heard about this ‘rule,’ I was pretty freaked out. The rule comes from this study, which showed women who sleep on their back or right side have double the risk of a late-term stillbirth.  DOUBLE THE RISK?!  I lost it!  But I let go of the anxiety over sleep position when I realized that the general odds of having a late-term stillbirth was a little over 3 / 1,000.  Scary and horrifying, yes.  Enough to stress out over every single night when I really need to be relaxing?  Not for me.  I try to sleep on my left, but if the right side is comfier, then it’s right all the way.  Back sleeping is impossible now, anyway!

Other things I choose not to stress out over:  flying dozens of times well until the end of my second trimester (radiation!!!); dying my hair a total of two times (chemicals!!!); eating a mix of conventional and organic produce (even more chemicals!!!); exercising (whether ‘too much’ or ‘not enough’); and having sex (samesies).

How did I get to the place of not being panic-stricken all the time?  As mentioned, The Panic-Free Pregnancy really helped.  Reading the studies behind the ‘rules’ made me realize how blown out of proportion most of them are at the core.  When I do feel myself stressing out over small things, I remind myself that the human race has been populating the Earth for bajillions of years; if we were truly so fragile that sleeping on your back while pregnant harmed a high percentage of babies, we’d be screwed.  And, ironically, having two early bleeds (check out 3 Things I Wish I Knew at 5 Weeks) also reduced my overall anxiety. Going through the bleed experience reminded me that I’m not in control of everything and somehow this allowed me to ‘let go’ of the desire to control.

To read the rest of the post – including a list of the things that I do stress out over – head over to my 31 Week Update on Healthy Tipping Point.

Read more from Caitlin on Healthy Tipping Point and Operation Beautiful.

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