Swollen ankles, a persistently full bladder and a face the size of China – pregnancy is no mean feat. However, the plus point of course is that you get to eat slightly more and bask in the knowledge that you have a better reason to indulge in that extra slice of pie than just your sweet tooth – “It’s not for me…it’s for the baby. It needs sugar”.
It takes a while to get to that point though; the point where you don’t feel guilty for eating another slice of toast and feasting on a little more pasta than you’re used to. When my midwife told me that the headaches I was getting in my first trimester were probably down to a lack of food and that I had to eat more carbohydrate throughout the day I was dumbfounded.
But why? I’m not a dieter and I’m not an idiot – it’s more important to me to have a healthy baby than fit in my size 12 jeans so there are no foods that I’ll deny myself. However, it still felt really odd that someone was giving me permission to eat more after spending most of my adult life being wary of overdoing it on the carbohydrates. I felt like an alcoholic who’d been told to drink a hot toddy on the sly by her sponsor at an AA meeting. For years women have been bombarded with faddy diets that extol the benefits of eating fewer carbs and more protein so it’s no wonder that being given a license to eat an extra 200 calories a day can seem like a passport to obesity; a place I’ve already been to and have no intention of visiting again.
My midwife told me to remember that there’s a ‘living organism feeding off me’, which made me feel like the lead actress in a sci-fi movie (move over Sigourney Weaver), and to eat a rich diet with plenty of nutrients. I already thought I was eating plenty but apparently I was combining the wrong foods together. My decision to eat more fruit was a good one but I was supposed to combine apples and bananas with a slice of wholemeal toast or some crackers to help reduce nausea and prevent headaches. I was also advised to spread out my meals and eat smaller amounts throughout the day rather than eat three large meals.
Of course the floodgates have now been opened – make me a sandwich filled with basmati rice, hand cooked crisps and farfalle pasta and I will gladly chomp my way through it (I’m a poor example for other soon-to-be- mothers, my sincerest apologies).
Before pregnancy I had always hoped that my baby would be made of wheatgrass smoothies, fruits and whole grains. Instead I think I’ll be giving birth to a newborn made of chocolate milkshake, prawn cocktail crisps and jalapeno peppers – a trio of foodstuffs that I’m hoping will produce an adorable, chunky-looking mini Michelin man rather than a hot headed babe pooping a spicy green paste that scares away the visitors.
Am I the only pregnant woman who used to be weary of eating too much but has now completely given in to banqueting on slices of poppy seed bread that quite frankly are only being used as a vehicle for the butter spread on top? Do other ladies continue to calorie count even when they are expecting a baby and feel guilty after over indulging? Should we just enjoy the nine month ride and allow ourselves to eat now and worry later? According to Charlie Brooker, biscuits are the only thing that new parents eat because they don’t have time to grab a sandwich in between feeding sessions and nappy changes. I’m hoping they are chocolate digestives and not rich tea.