As I’m nearing the end of the last trimester, I’ve had some time to reflect on the changes pregnancy has had on my lifestyle. All things considered, I feel pretty lucky. I never experienced the horrible nausea associated with morning sickness, and it’s only in the last few weeks that the extra weight I’m carrying is making my feet swell and my joints ache a bit. As a food lover, however, being pregnant has definitely had an impact on my eating habits.
Prior to becoming pregnant, I always thought my biggest challenge would be cutting alcohol out of my life. Josh and I always enjoyed having a nice bottle of wine with dinner, or trying out different beers at the bars in our neighborhood. But while I do miss the social aspect of sharing a drink with friends, I haven’t really had a strong urge to drink during my pregnancy. And although varying reports have said it’s probably ok for me to have a drink every once in a while now that I’m so late into my pregnancy, I haven’t felt the need. I do take sips of wine here and there if it’s a grape or vineyard that I haven’t tried before, but otherwise, I’ve been pretty good at abstaining.
On the other hand, not being able to eat some of my favorite foods has been pretty agonizing. Aside from the obvious things – no sushi, no rare meat, no unpasteurized cheeses, I never really thought about the fact that I wouldn’t be able to eat simple things, like deli meats or runny eggs. Not being able to grab a quick sandwich when I’m pressed for time at work has been a huge inconvenience. And on the egg front, while I resigned myself to not having eggs benedict or over easy eggs, I never thought about not being able to eat foods that are prepared with raw eggs, like homemade caesar dressing or mayo.
And then there are relatively unknown restrictions, like raw bean sprouts, which I guess have a higher risk of e. coli and salmonella. It wasn’t until I ate a huge mouthful of pad thai topped with sprouts early on in my pregnancy and had a moment of sheer panic that I realized I would really have to start watching everything I ate very carefully.
While I saw my pregnancy as an opportunity to start eating better – more fruits and vegetables, lean meats, low mercury fish, I have to admit, meals started becoming less interesting to me. I refused to try new restaurants with Josh, knowing that my food restrictions would prevent me from ordering dishes that I would normally want to order. And we spent a lot of time on his iphone before every meal, googling to make sure certain things were ok for me to eat. It was definitely a big pain, and I found myself no longer excited about eating.
I know that part of my suppressed appetite was due to my condition, and I would force myself to make sure I got enough protein at each meal, but I simply stopped loving food for a while. I didn’t care where or what we ate, and I actually found most meals to be a chore. It was a huge change for me, and one that really surprised me.
Fortunately, my appetite picked up during my last trimester, and now I’m back to my chowhounding ways. I’ve learned to enjoy well done steak (as long as it’s a tender cut), though I haven’t eaten a single lamb chop (my favorite) in almost nine months, since I can’t bear the thought of eating overcooked lamb. I’m now used to watching Josh indulge on raw fish sushi while I pick at an occasional california roll. I still get jealous from time to time seeing other people eat things that I’m not allowed, but at least my one craving, ice cream, is something that I’ve been able to indulge in.
I am really looking forward to giving birth though, and being able to eat the things I miss the most. I’ve already left specific instructions that the first forbidden food I want to eat immediately after delivery is a bagel with scallion cream cheese and lox. I love lox, but smoked fish is a no-no right now. I’ve also been avoiding deli cream cheese, since I don’t know how long it has been sitting out for, but regular processed cream cheese just isn’t as satisfying.
I’ve also requested that someone bring me sushi at the hospital, although I still have to avoid high mercury fish (ie., tuna, yellowtail, mackeral), which are normally my favorites. I’ll make do with some raw salmon and ikura though.
Lastly, I want a deli sandwich. Ideally, I want a Jewish deli sandwich with either corned beef, pastrami, or tongue (or all three!) on unseeded rye bread with mustard, but even if someone brought me a regular turkey sandwich from the hospital cafeteria slathered with mayo, I’d be pretty happy.
Has it all been worth it? Of course. I’ve loved being pregnant, and it’s actually gone by quicker than I thought it would. Adjusting my eating habits was difficult at first, but having a relatively easy pregnancy experience seems like a pretty good tradeoff. I’m ready to pop any day now, and I’m looking forward to meeting our baby, as well as having my bagel with lox and cream cheese!
Note: I’m not a doctor, and the choices I made about what I could or could not eat/drink were my own, after discussing with my ob/gyn. I understand that every pregnancy is different, and the decisions I made may differ from someone else’s choices. This post shouldn’t be seen as advice, but rather, a summary of my own experiences.