After my last post, I got a comment from someone who may or may not share a household with me. It included a series of great quotes about expectations. They are certainly great advice for life in general. In short, if your reality falls way short of your expectations, you are going to be disappointed.
My expectation that I’d be eating normally in the second trimester turned out to be wrong. Way wrong. And a lot of frustration has followed.
But this is the thing- we expectant women have so many (nearly) inescapable expectations placed on us. Let’s say I expected to be like some of my young, less educated patients who are already obese and unhealthy. I would then proceed to gain 50 lbs in my pregnancy, eating junk food, fast food and drinking soda regularly. If that were the case, then I’d say I’m doing quite well right now.
But the reality is that most of us are expected to do better. We are told to:
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine
- Take prenatal vitamins daily, and for good measure, add some fish oil to that
- Gain 25-35 lbs total (if you started at a normal weight), 0.8-1 lb a week in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters
- Avoid risky foods like unpasteurized cheeses, deli meats, and bean sprouts
- Avoid fish high in mercury
- But eat the safe fish regularly (forget that you may have an aversion to seafood)
- Eat a variety of foods, and keep a balanced diet
- Avoid junk food, fast food, sugar
- Get enough calcium and iron
I’m sure there’s more that I can’t think of right now, but you get the point. And these are just the dietary recommendations. I haven’t even gotten into recommendations for exercise, sleep, stress relief, and so on. The fact is, we have so many expectations placed on us. This is the advice from reliable pregnancy books, the emails we receive from our healthcare providers, and directly from our doctors.
And then those of us who are perfectionists feel guilty, because inevitably we’re not going to be able to follow all of the recommendations exactly. As I’ve learned, thanks to no longer feeling normal, I just don’t want to eat healthy foods all the time. I’m not saying I should give in to every single craving/inclination that I have, but we perfectionists also need to be nice to ourselves and know that it’s ok to be imperfect, or even fail miserably sometimes. In pregnancy, we’re just doing the best we can in a situation where our body has literally been taken over by another being, and we are no longer our normal selves.