Take Back Your Pregnancy

When I was newly pregnant, more than 11 years ago, I was over-the-top giddy—for  about a week. Then I went to the doctor. And I bought a few pregnancy books. And I scoured pregnancy websites. A few weeks later, we announced our news to family and friends.

            Everywhere I turned, I was inundated with do’s and don’ts, advice (some unsolicited) and personal stories. Suddenly, my giddiness was replaced with stress, fear, what if’s and an overwhelming amount of information, much of it contradictory.

            Could I drink a cup of coffee each morning, or must I avoid it like the plague? Was I gaining weight too quickly? What about the couple of glasses of wine I had early on, before I found out I was expecting—no biggie or detrimental to our developing baby?

            With all the do’s and don’ts coming at me from every direction, I began to feel more like a science experiment than a woman embarking on the wonderful journey of motherhood.

            Fast-forward a decade, and the wealth of information for moms-to-be has exploded, thanks to websites, apps, blogs and more. To add to the onslaught, statistics from the latest medical research seem to hit the news daily, often disputing earlier findings.

            Gladstone mom Stacy Taylor knows firsthand about the confusion pregnant women can face. Expecting her second child, she says, “I can't seem to keep up with what I can and can't eat. Last year it was okay; this year it's not. Now with gestational diabetes, they've restricted my diet even more, and I have food allergies.”

No question about it, information can be a powerful tool for a healthy, successful pregnancy and birth, but how much is too much? And how do you weed out the garbage and focus on the important stuff?    

Who to listen to:

  • Your doctor Kimberly Matthews, MD, OB/GYN with Shawnee Mission Medical Center, says, “Most offices provide newly pregnant patients with an information booklet that has concise but important information regarding the pregnancy. This is the best place to start when trying to figure out the most important do's and don'ts. In addition, asking your provider at visits is another good way.”
  • Your body That inner, nagging voice, the one that tells you, “Hmmm…something feels off; I should call my doc,” or “Hey, I feel so much better when I take a short walk after dinner,”—yeah that voice—is one to listen to. It’s usually right. And if not, well, it’s better to make an unnecessary trip to the doc than to ignore a sign that something could be wrong.
  • A regular email/app Signing up for a regular update from a reputable source that tells you what’s happening to your body and baby is fine. With my two pregnancies, I received weekly emails from BabyCenter.com (before there was “an app for that”). I found the info straightforward and informative. I could read about the developmental milestones of my baby for that week, pick up tips on how to take care of myself and learn what to expect at my next appointment. Just don’t sign up for multiple apps or one that focuses on everything that can possibly go wrong; you likely have enough stress in your life as it is.
  • A current pregnancy book Having a book that you can thumb through on your lunch hour, before bed or whenever you have a minor question is handy. “Current” is the keyword here: You want up-to-date information about your developing baby’s stages. Use the book as a guide, but don’t turn to it for every maternity decision or answer. Your doctor is still your best, most accurate resource during this time.

Who to tune out:

Okay, “tune out” is a little harsh, but there is such a thing as too much information, and from unreliable sources.

  • Mom, Mother-in-law, Grandma, Great-Aunt Edna, etc. They probably mean well, but because of continuous research from medical experts, pregnancy info changes faster than a Kardashian changes clothes. Just because your granny smoked a pack a day during her pregnancies and HER kids turned out fine doesn’t mean it’s okay for you to do the same. (Extreme example, but you get the point.)
  • The Internet Dr. Matthews advises, “Be careful what you read on the Internet. If you do like to look things up on the Internet, ACOG.org (American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) is a great resource. Their website has accurate patient information to frequently asked questions.” As my children’s pediatrician once told me when I was certain my daughter had some awful disease (it was a run-of-the-mill virus): “Google is your friend, until it comes to your health.” The info you find on the Internet could be erroneous, outdated or scare the living daylights out of you. After all, many of us have incorrectly diagnosed ourselves with cancer after Googling various symptoms.
  • Strangers on the elevator Or in aisle 5 of the grocery store or in a restaurant bathroom … anyone spouting unsolicited advice. Resist the urge to say something sarcastic: “Why, thank you for the words of wisdom, Miss Know-It-All. I’m not sure how I’ll birth this baby without you by my side.” Instead, force a smile, muster up a thank you and walk away, erasing the conversation from memory.

Tisha Foley remembers standing in the baby store years ago and feeling completely overwhelmed by all the choices of bottles. She and her family live in Belton.

As always, please consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns.

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