3 Weirdest Things I’ve Been Told About Pregnancy (So Far)

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When I first started reading pregnancy books and web sites, I felt like everyone was yelling at me. “You must eat 3-5 servings of vegetables, and 70g of protein, EVERY DAY!” “You must work out for 30 minutes daily, but not too hard!” “If you look at a black cat’s reflection in a mirror, your baby will grow horns!” The last one I made up but seriously, there is a lot of information out there for the prego set, a LOT of it alarmist or condescending. My most recent pregnancy book told me that I should wear a seatbelt while driving: besides being obvious, this is the law in most states. Some things I’ve heard/read have just been too weird to be believed. My top three, below.

1. If you exercise on an elliptical machine at the gym, you should stop every 20 minutes and take your temperature. Rectally.

2. “You have to see our alcohol and drug interventionist.” Kaiser told me this, because I wrote on a prenatal screening form that I had around 1 drink a month before pregnancy, and half a cocktail around the time of conception. That’s right, I had a drink BEFORE I knew I was pregnant, and for this, Kaiser thinks I’m at risk for abusing alcohol during pregnancy. This is because Kaiser’s “Early Start” screening program mandates that ALL women who admit to consuming ANY amount of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, cocaine, meth, and other drugs be referred to their drug/alcohol interventionist for a sit-down. Even if the patient (read: me) informs the doctor that she hasn’t had a drink since she knew she was pregnant, and doesn’t intend to drink at all during pregnancy. “No amount of alcohol is known to be safe,” I was told by a very serious, very sober counselor. “Yeah, I know,” I said, despite having read studies to the contrary. “And that’s why I’m NOT DRINKING during pregnancy. Which I already told you.” Jesus. Next time I’ll just lie on the form.

3. “Walking doesn’t count as exercise.” Another gem from Kaiser, which I dispute. I live in San Francisco and the hills around my home are very steep. If you walked to the top of the nearest hill, you’d climb 300 feet in elevation in about half a mile. When you get to the top, it’s about the same elevation as the top of a 40-story office building. In my opinion, if you walk so far uphill that you can see entire bodies of water, two bridges, and neighboring cities, it’s freakin’ exercise.

It’s hard for me to take a lot of these recommendations seriously, especially considering there are 6 billion of us on this planet, and it didn’t happen because the world’s mothers were obsessively complying with USDA nutritional guidelines or taking their temperature every 20 minutes. If you’ve gotten extreme or just plain faulty advice while pregnant, please post in comments.