Saturday, December 4, 2010

Pre-pregnancy Prep: Don't Drink; Don't Smoke; What do you do?

Another small excerpt from the book today. When I was actively trying to get pregnant (and not like today which is just minus birth control), I used to watch what I'd drink and eat and some other common pre-pregnancy practices. Of course, I went from not drinking coffee to three years (or any other caffeinated drink) to now imbibing with wild abandon.

Today we prepare our hopeful houses for a baby months in advance, reading books like A Healthy Body, Healthy Pregnancy, and Taking Charge of Your Fertility. There’s a whole regimen that includes exercising to increase blood flow (it helps with your sex drive, too); taking prenatal vitamins; trying to drop one dress size (since we’ll happily be gaining it back within a few months); cutting back on or cutting out alcohol, caffeine, and sweets; and doing yoga to de-stress our minds and bodies. And heaven knows you should not, under any circumstances, clean out the litter box! Times have changed. Just a generation ago, moms-to-be were warned not to smoke or drink during pregnancy, but the list of foods to avoid and other preparation tips were pretty much nonexistent. Basically, it was just get off of birth control and go for it.

Whether or not you’re on fertility treatments, prenatal vitamins are one of the requirements for pregnancy prep. I’m no math genius, but I figured out that I’ve been taking one prenatal vitamin every day for more than 1,600 days straight. So, along with all of the costly fertility treatments, I’ve also had to get haircuts more often because the vitamins make my hair and nails grow even faster than normal. I have also become quite the connoisseur of prenatal vitamins, testing out several different types and brands. I know which ones make my stomach hurt, which ones give me a little energy boost, and which ones have the highest levels of folate and calcium. I liked the whole food vitamins the best—they are easy on the stomach, no burping or weird metallic/earthy aftertaste, and they’re made from real food, not synthetically built from chemical compounds (more than you ever wanted to know about prenatal vitamins, right?).

When I first started trying to get pregnant, I decided to do the “no alcohol, no caffeine” thing. If I was going to do this, I was going to do it right. I didn’t even drink that much alcohol or caffeine to begin with, but if I was going to commit my body to housing a baby for nine months, I was going all in. Taking it one step further, any time after my ovulation days, I wouldn’t eat Brie or goat cheese, or sushi; I also made sure my cold cut sandwiches were heated and watched how much tuna I ate. I cut back on my exercise and didn’t lift anything more than ten pounds.

Then a couple weeks later, inevitably, my period would start and so would a week of binging like there was no tomorrow. My husband would take me out for Mexican food to give me an excuse to drink a margarita, or I’d go out for sushi and drink Diet Cokes only to abstain again within ten days, just in case the sperm were to meet the egg.

One of my dearest friends had the vice of drinking a sixty-four ounce bucket of Diet Mountain Dew every morning. I remember the day she came to work without one, and I wondered good grief, did she inhale all of it on the twenty minute ride to work? No, she and her husband decided it was time to start trying for a baby bump, and her doctor wanted her to cut out the gallons of caffeine and sugar substitute she was consuming each week. It was like watching an alcoholic go through detox. She had horrid headaches until a week or so later her body finally adjusted to going without her morning crutch. And, I made sure to avoid her until noon while she was going through the transition to a caffeine-free life.

Any other prep activies that you did, only for it not to matter?


  1. I don't smoke so that's not an issue, and I definitely do the vitamin thing. I keep thinking I should cut out alcohol, but I haven't been able to yet. It helps keep me sane right now ;p. I've told hubby though that if we still see nothing by the new year, we might be taking a break from the booze.

  2. I actually drank more, figuring I would have 9 mos to abstain but am now back to normal levels Hmmm... maybe it's good that I'm infertile. I took vitamins for a few months but recently gave that up. It's another thing to do before bed: brush, floss, conduct anti-aging product routine, etc. The vitamins fell off the list pretty fast.

  3. I gave up smoking years ago, but for my IVF cycles gave up drinking, caffiene, all forms of carbonated soft drinks apart from fizzy water, ate brazil nuts and drank pineapple juice, although I can't bear pineapples. I also did reiki and reflexology. None of it worked!

  4. I haven't drank since the margarita I had on November 29th (not that I'm keeping track). I switched to decaf coffee and only try to drink two per day (but its been more like 3), even though I've read that coffee itself is bad. I have never smoked, so that's not a problem. I'm trying to give up soda, but still have 1 diet ginger ale (bad!) every other day.

    I freaked myself out doing research for an article on my blog on caffeine-even though the evidence isn't 100%, I'm really trying to get away from caffeine.

  5. I have stopped taking prenatals, I do drink here and there during the TWW if I need to (like at a party), and I don't think twice before eating sushi or tiramisu. Yes, last year this time I was careful about all of the above, but no more. After all, whats the point? Any empty womb doesn't care what you do or don't eat.