Mitigating risks

by DaniGirl on June 19, 2007 · 36 comments

in Postcards from my uterus

When I posted yesterday about eating meat straight out of the bag in the Farm Boy parking lot, Loukia commented that pregnant women are not supposed to eat cold cuts. Hey, I never said they were cold cuts – it was raw steak I was snarfing in the hot June sun.

Okay, so that’s not true. It was cold cuts – Westphalian ham to be specific, a thinly-sliced, extra-salty ham that my German grandmother used to serve with sliced Gouda on rye bread for Sunday lunch, one of my favourite childhood traditions. No sandwich has ever tasted as good as the ones she cut into tiny triangles for me, served in her tiny, crowded kitchen that always smelled of my grandfather’s cigars and some indefinable sweet perfume. Salty comfort food – there’s nothing better.

I have to say, I’ve become rather cavalier about the pregnancy food rules. For my first two pregnancies, the one I lost in 2000 and Tristan, I was obsessive about the “rules”. I would not eat cold cuts or hot dogs, salmon or soft cheese. I dropped coffee completely – or, more accurately, it dropped me and I switched to expensive foamed hot chocolate instead. I gave up caesar salads because of the raw eggs, and Greek salad because of the feta. I can’t remember exactly what I was eating, but it must have been a complete departure from my usual fare.

In the last few pregnancies, I’ve become much less obsessive in my eating habits. A younger me would have been scandalized by the “risks” I take. This is partly motivated by experience, and partly by sheer laziness. Sandwiches are one of the foods I tolerate best right now, so I’ll eat cold cuts a couple of times a week. I’d be face-down on the floor without some injection of caffeine during the day, so I’ll drink a cup of tea in the morning, or a rare cup of coffee. I’ll actively seek a caffinated soda some afternoons, just to make it though the day.

It’s become an issue of moderation for me. The incidence of listeriosis is incredibly small; this study found an annual occurence of 7.4 cases per million people. I’ve discovered that almost all cheese in Canada is pasteurized, and have been hard pressed to actually find any that is unpasteurized at the local grocery store. Having squeezed out 9 lbs and 10 lbs babies, I’m not too worried about interuterine growth retardation (she said while touching wood.)

There are a few things I’ve remained diligent about. I have never been a fan of aspartame, and suspect it contributes to my headaches. Plus, I just can’t stand the taste of it. So I’ll go to great lenghts to avoid it while pregnant – which is too bad, because I’ve just recently discovered that Coke Zero actually does taste a lot like my beloved Coca Cola without the 12 teaspoons of sugar in it. But, for the remainder of the pregnancy at least, I’ll stick with the original – and the extra calories.

Same with alcohol. It’s not a huge stretch for me to avoid it, but I do find myself with a wicked craving lately for Corona with lime. It’s a summer thing, I guess. But I’ll hold off.

Is it wrong to be salivating at the thought of a beer at 8:15 on a Tuesday morning?

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Myra June 19, 2007 at 1:38 pm

My favourite is the Tuscany Ham from Farm Boy: super-thin. Love it.
Never heard the “no cold cuts” rule before although I did hear about the raw cheese. Yeah – coz Loblaws is filled with that stuff. I did deal with my fair share of raised eyebrows though when I drank coffee whilst pregnant… and {gasp} when I ate some *incredibly* fresh sushi.
Good on ya for enjoying yourself and your pregnancy…geez if we can’t even enjoy a ham sandwich what’s the World coming to?

2 Jenn June 19, 2007 at 2:16 pm

I have wanted to sip a beer on a patio since the first summer-like day in May.

3 Chris (Mombie) June 19, 2007 at 2:19 pm

Beer was the only thing I craved during my pregnancies. I used to buy my friends beer when we were out so I could have a mouthful, and I actually resorted to drinking non-alcoholic beer on occasion.

4 Phantom Scribbler June 19, 2007 at 2:21 pm

I haven’t looked at the research lately, but if I recall correctly from when I was last poking through journals, the studies found negative effects for caffeine consumption at levels higher than FIVE OR SIX cups of coffee a day. A cup of tea daily? Not a risk.
It surprises me that pregnant women do not go postal on the raised-eyebrow types more frequently.

5 Loukia June 19, 2007 at 2:24 pm

Hi Dani! Good post. I’m still too scared to eat cold cuts, as much I miss ham and hungarian salami sandwiches. πŸ™ Also… my Greek salad this summer will be a bit bland with no feta in them. I’m a hypocondriac to begin with… so beign pregnant, I read up and when I read the list of ‘what not to eat’ I take it to heart! Funny thing, last night, I had a dream I was out partying with my friends and I went to bar and ordered a shot of something, and a glass of wine. I quickly drank my shot and then remembered – I was PREGNANT! It was horrible and I so scared. It even haunts me in my sleep!
I would never criticize anyone for what they choose to eat/not eat during pregnancy – I hope you didn’t take offense to my comment to you! (However, if you’re pregnant, and smoking – you deserve a good slap in the face, if not more!)

6 Loukia June 19, 2007 at 2:27 pm

P.S. I had my appointment yesterday and I heard my baby’s heartbeat! If today was a yay day, I’d be yaying for that big time! Greatest sound ever… and I didn’t think I would hear the heartbeat as I didn’t hear it with Christos when I was 10 weeks pregnant. πŸ™‚

7 alison June 19, 2007 at 3:13 pm

If salivating at the thought of a beer at 8:15 on a Tuesday morning is wrong, then I don’t wanna be right…
I still had my one cup of tea in the morning while pg both times, and with Rachel my cravings were all for meat at the bottom end of the food chain: hot dogs and bologna, go figure. I indulged occasionally. I also had a glass of wine once or twice (special occasions) during my third trimester, and I popped out perfect, healthy, smart 8 pounders. I think you’re right on the money with the moderation. Have fun. And can I have one of your sandwiches?

8 Jenn June 19, 2007 at 3:38 pm

I have been under the assumption that while soft, blue and feta cheeses are cautioned it is because they are traditionally made from unpasturized milk. You are hard pressed (cheesy pun there) to find many unpasturized cheeses in Canada. I found a great sheeps milk feta at a local farmers market this weekend that is fantastic ( and has twice the calcium! It is not as salty and fills the craving for a greek salad!

9 Loukia June 19, 2007 at 3:56 pm

Okay so what you guys are saying is if I buy my feta at stores like Loblaws I should be okay? Because normally we buy our Greek chese from Greek specialty stores because feta from Greece is soo much better – but I am not sure if that cheese is pasturized… so… if I buy from Loblaws, I’m okay??? Another thing I don’t consume when pregnant – Tylenol. I almost died from my migraine yesterday but did not take Tylenol for fear that down the road they’ll tell us it was bad for us to take when pregnant. Yes, I’m insane this way.

10 James June 19, 2007 at 4:24 pm

Hey, there’s nothing like breakfast beer. But, holding off for now is probably smart.
I hope you don’t mind, but I have tagged you.

11 kerry June 19, 2007 at 5:43 pm

Loukia – if you think about what our mothers ate and drank (adn smoke) when they were pregnant with us, I wouldn’t worry as much as you do. I think these are more guidelines than anything else – it’s all about moderation.

12 Jay June 19, 2007 at 5:45 pm

>Is it wrong to be salivating at the thought of a beer at 8:15 on a Tuesday morning?< No. It isn't. At least someone told me that.

13 Loukia June 19, 2007 at 6:09 pm

I’m not sure about that – everything in moderation is fine when you’re not pregnant but what if I happen to be that one pregnant person who gets really sick off of eating brie, and this results in sickness for my child, or worse? I am totally okay with giving up a handful of foods and alcohol for 9 months if I can prevent anything bad from happening to my child. I’m not lacking for nutrition or good food just because I gave up a few things! I’m just being careful…some may say going to far, but I think it’s okay!

14 Ingrid June 19, 2007 at 6:29 pm

For all 3 of my pregnancies, I craved a nice cold fizzy beer, and even had the post delivery alcohol planned. Of course the craving stopped as soon as the baby was born ( all 3 times). And this is a strange craving for me since I don’t drink much alcohol.
I did find a solution during the last pregnancy (esp. good during the Christmas holiday party season) – it was half cranberry juice, and half fizzy water (tonic water or something like that) – tasted great nad made me feel like a grownup.

15 Loukia June 19, 2007 at 7:09 pm
16 Fawn June 19, 2007 at 7:16 pm

Yes, if you buy your feta cheese at Loblaws, you will probably be fine. As previously mentioned, most commercially-made cheeses in Canada are pasteurized. Just have a look at the packaging material – more than likely, it will say if it’s been pasteurized.
I didn’t find out about the pasteurization thing until after my baby was born. Boy was I mad about all the Brie I COULD have eaten and missed! πŸ˜‰

17 Fawn June 19, 2007 at 7:18 pm

Oh, another thing. Deli meat out of a sealed commercial package is suppoesd to be safer than meat from an actual deli, because it’s apparently less likely to have been sitting out or badly handled.

18 Loukia June 19, 2007 at 7:28 pm

Thanks Fawn. I’ll probably brave it up and eat the packaged Canadian feta that has been pasturized but I’m still on the fence about deli meats! πŸ™‚ However just want to say again in no way, shape, or form am I shaking my finger at anyone would eat certain foods! To each their own. With my first pregnancy, I avoided eating Coffee Crisp due to the fear of caffeine. My friends thought I was insane. πŸ™‚
Dani – forgive my way too many comments again today.

19 DaniGirl June 19, 2007 at 7:47 pm

According to the Weather office at Environment Canada (, 60 to 70 people are seriously injured by lightning strikes in Canada annually.
According to this UK study, there were 70 cases of listeriosis in Canada in 2003.
For an occasional ham and swiss or salami and brie, I’m good with those odds.

20 Loukia June 19, 2007 at 7:57 pm

Yeah but even so – if there is a rain storm going on, my son comes out of the pool and I wouldn’t stand under a tree. I am always cautious! πŸ™‚

21 BubandPie June 19, 2007 at 8:00 pm

Dani, you’re so right about the pregnancy-food rules. It’s a all a plot to keep women paranoid and under control, fomented by those evil witches who wrote What to Expect…
(I was wondering about the raw meat, though – thanks for explaining!)

22 DaniGirl June 19, 2007 at 8:22 pm

Ugh, don’t get me STARTED on “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”, otherwise known as “Let’s ratchet your anxiety even higher than it currently is for no good reason whatsoever over 10,000 things that will likely never happen to you.” Grrr. I’ll need a whole post for that one…

23 trixie June 19, 2007 at 8:38 pm

I confessed to my doctor that I’d had more than the recommended number of patio martinis in the first trimester, owing to the fact that *pregnancy* didn’t occur to me as the cause of my missed period symptom until I was 8 weeks in. She replied with a wry smile, “Crack whores can have perfectly healthy children: relax.” And a ham sammich don’t make you no crack whore.

24 Amanda Stillie June 19, 2007 at 8:46 pm

When I was pregnant with my first, Miles, I ate everything under the sun! I’m sure I had everything but alcohol and drugs (and sushi ugh)!
Miles was the easiest delivery, the best baby and the best 4 year old, always healthy!
With my second, Drake, I followed all the rules, I was always sick, never ate anything wrong and he had cancer, in utero. No matter what we do or don’t do its ultimately out of our hands, as I learned the hard way. I’ve questioned myself from the day of diagnosis, but I did nothing wrong. Aside from drinking and doing drugs I say enjoy your pregnancy Dani, especially when you’ve had such a hard time getting here! Best of luck and try some gypsy salami.. yum!

25 Jenn June 19, 2007 at 8:47 pm

Loukia- Next time you are at you favourite Greek store, ask to see the lid of the container that spells out the ingredients for your favourite Greek Feta. Why settle when the one you like best may very well be okay?

26 APL June 20, 2007 at 3:38 am

My friends with more than 1 and I all agreed that our standards were way more lax for baby #2 (and beyond). With #1, I cut out almost all caffeine. With #2, I was having a latte (about 50 mg) or Coke (about 40 mg) a day. Meh.

27 APL June 20, 2007 at 3:40 am

Oh, and most of the hits at my site are for people searching for what they can and can’t eat: “feta during pregnancy,” “nonalcoholic beer in pregnancy,” “cold cuts while pregnant,” etc. Every now and then I’ll see one and go, “HUH?” (Like chewing gum, or peanut butter.)

28 twinmomplusone June 20, 2007 at 1:15 pm

its 8:15 a.m. and now I’M craving for a beer :~/

29 Myra June 20, 2007 at 3:29 pm

p.s. re Regular Tylenol… within recommended dosages it is safe when you are pg. My doctors explained it this way: if it’s a drug that would ordinarily be administered to babies/children then it’s safe (especially true when breastfeeding). Of course if you can manage to do without drugs (i.e. use heat, ice, massage, rest, etc.) then by all means do so. But you shouldn’t have to suffer with a headache or migraine or even a fever for that matter.
Note: Advil and Aspirin are to be avoided as these may cause bleeding problems.
ALSO – Happy pregnancies everybody! πŸ™‚

30 valerie June 20, 2007 at 4:35 pm

I have a friend who was pg the first time in Germany. Her dr. there said she was to limit her alcohol intake – no more than one glass of wine/day. πŸ™‚ That child is sweet, mellow, a joy to be around. Her second pg, she was in Canada. The dr. said NO alcohol. That child is very difficult in so many ways. Coincidence? Maybe (okay, probably). But we tease her about it a lot. πŸ˜‰
I agree with you – moderation is key. I ate pretty much what I pleased (don’t like Feta, but agree that pasturized is fine). I drank an occasional small glass of wine or half a beer (still do while bf). I figured the amount of caffeine in my 1/2 decaf coffee or coke or chocolate bar (dark chocolate which has more than milk chocolate, Loukia) was no where close to the recommended amounts. Like you, Dani, the one thing I really did (and do) avoid is aspartame.
Enjoy your pregnancy, Dani (and the others). Oh, btw, salmon is something you SHOULD eat. Check the latest research on Omega3 while pg – a must for a highly intelligent child.

31 Loukia June 20, 2007 at 5:52 pm

Well I am happy to report that even though I did not drink for 9 months (or ate cold cuts or feta or Doritos) my child is the most loving, smart, sweet child! And I hope for the same with baby number 2. We each do what we feel is right. OH, and I ate chocolate almost daily with baby number 1 and so far, it’s the same with baby number 2! Happy pregnancies, everyone.
P.S. YES on the salmon – highly recommended – eat it weekly if you can!

32 valerie June 20, 2007 at 6:31 pm

Loukia, it was not a criticism or suggestion, just supposed to be a funny story.
And silly me, not being a Coffee Crisp fan, I thought you were avoiding chocolate bars because of the caffeine in chocolate, not thinking of the actual coffee in it.
No offense intended all around.

33 Loukia June 20, 2007 at 7:07 pm

Oh, no offense taken! Dani is going to ban me from her blog for posting too many comments! πŸ˜‰ Anyway me avoiding coffee crisp was me being overly paranoid with my first pregnancy. This time around, I’ll eat it and not be scared! Maybe. πŸ˜‰ I just had a regular milk chocolate Hershey’s bar and it was great. I figure the caffeine in regular chocolate bars is acceptable to consume in pregnancy!

34 nancy June 21, 2007 at 4:12 pm

Beer @ 8:15 okay with me, as long as you are serving nachos.

35 Anonymous June 22, 2007 at 1:27 am

LMAO!! Nancy you rock!!!

36 Cakes June 29, 2007 at 5:34 am

I am stumbling late into this as I rediscover my deep love for Dani.
Dani…girl, I am over the moon for you and your family.

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