Here’s a throwback to my first pregnancy – the second time around is so different; I’m feeling much more relaxed about everything. This post was my thoughts about “eating for two” but with this pregnancy, I think I’m eating just as healthy without the worry and without gaining as much weight – yay! Although I do need to get a move-on in getting the baby room ready…
When an expectant mother reads any book on pregnancy or any pamphlet on nutrition to help her little bundle of joy, it is incredibly Overwhelming. There’s pages and pages of details describing each area of important nutrients to help all the various aspects of fetal development. How does cantaloupe fall into the green leafies category? How am I supposed to remember 12 food groups and which fish are safe and which fish should be avoided and which fish should be eaten once a week? And how did fish end up being so important for a baby’s brain development anyway? And on top of that, how am I supposed to fit all of them in a day’s food allowance while consuming just 300 extra calories and keeping my sanity? So, can I just tell you that one night, my pregnancy hormones combined with my overwhelming sense of what all the baby needs nutritionally for proper development overpowered me, and when I looked in the fridge to decide what I wanted to eat for dinner, all I could do was start crying. I laid on the couch and cried while my poor, sweet husband comforted me and then fixed us some dinner. Then my friend sent me some pages from a book about the importance of eating raw egg yoks, cod liver oil, and liver everyday of your pregnancy (GROSS!). Plus, it advised to eliminate sugar, white flour, oils, and caffeine…does that sound like some sort of hazing to anyone else? An initiation into motherhood, perhaps? I thought the morning sickness, nighttime heat flashes, peeing every four hours, and then the actual birth were maybe enough of an intitiation. What about all that first trimester morning sickness and fatigue? Even when the book says not to worry if you can’t get all that healthy food eaten in the midst of first trimester ickiness, somehow that does not make me feel any better after reading the pages of nutritional needs for my baby, who is developing all his/her vital organs and brain during those first 3 months. Expectant mothers are NOT supposed to be stressed; I know that – it raises their cortisol levels, which in turn raises their baby’s cortisol levels, which can stress the baby and lead to emotional and behavioral issues in a child as late as 4.5-years-old.
So, my solution, knowing what I do about the rapid rate of prenatal development, particularly during the first trimester, was to eat “healthy” and take my prenatal vitamin every day. I also tried to make the most of opportunities to eat seafood, fish listed as safe in at least one of my readings, such as tilapia, cod, and catfish. I experienced light morning sickness, which I combated by keeping a small tupperware of goldfish by my bed in order to eat crackers as soon as I woke up in the morning, before getting out of bed. I now loooove goldfish! I also started craving orange juice like crazy! Conveniently, my normally strong sweet tooth was much diminished, and I started enjoying salty foods more than usual, like potato chips (not so convenient for trying to eat healthy ;). Now, here’s where the psychology experiment comes into play. According to a large body of research, tastes and smells that babies are exposed to in utero are then preferred as late as 5.5 months after birth (ex. Mennella, Jagnow, & Beauchamp, 2001; Varendi, Porter, & Winberg, 2002). If you’re wondering what babies are smelling, they’re smelling the amniotic fluid, which has been reported to smell like coffee or Indian food at birth, based on what the mother had consumed earlier that day. So, I’m expecting my baby to like goldfish and orange juice. As I’m moving into my second trimester, I’m also trying to eat a variety of flavors and vegetables, so that my baby will be exposed to a diverse array of foods – this is my attempt to make my baby less of a picky eater and less likely to develop particular, strong allergies. Of course, I can’t report on the outcome of this personal study at this time 🙂
So, update – Pen Elaine has always been a really good eater, but goldfish was the one food to which she clearly had an allergic reaction when she was younger (she’s outgrown it now, by 2). Funny since I ate so many of them early in her pregnancy. However, she was a baby willing to eat anything and has only grown a little pickier as a toddler, and who doesn’t like orange juice.