I recently read about a soon-to-be Mom who was condemned in public by a gynae due to the fact she was holding a cup of coffee. The gist of her article is that we all make different choices based on what is good for us as individuals. And therein is the most important truth…we do what is important for (and what resonates with) the self versus meeting the demands/beliefs of others as THAT is what is good for the self. What works for some does not work for others. What is ‘good’ and ‘right’ for some is not necessarily good for others.
The article is written in light of being a parent and focusses on something that I feel very strongly about. Do what helps you to be happy and balanced. It is far better to do what keeps you sane and balanced versus “what the books says” or “what other parents say”. Ultimately you will be a less stressed and a nicer parent and partner.
This goes for anything in life. If doing something that “should be done”, that is “good”, or “right” (parenting, exercise, diet etc) causes unhappiness or discord it only leads to stress which is totally counterproductive to the perceived benefits. By all means – if you are a person who is quiet happy to exercise every morning at 4am then the rewards for physical (and emotional) well being are probably great. However, if it causes distress just thinking about the slog that has to be undertaken consider how much that distress and the physical effects of stress counter the positive effects of the exercise. I know for myself that if I push myself to exercise extremes or starve myself through some extreme diet (like not eating any carbs(!)) I am a very miserable, unhappy and not pleasant person. (In our house hungry anger is a very particular state of being called “hangry’!) Working within my balance of healthy means I allow myself to have cheat days, down days and ignore the fact that my son just threw his food at the vacuum dog days, and the rest of the time I truly enjoy the way I eat and exercise (and being a parent!)
Balance is key. If, after doing your homework, you feel strongly that you do not want to drink any coffee or eat Sushi when pregnant and this sits well with you then it can only be good all around. If, like me, you just cannot do without some Sushi, you have spoken to your healthcare practitioner and feel that the minimal risk is outweighed by the pure joy of eating Sushi then that’s your choice you can own. I can promise you that when I did my little Sushi Dance (this is a little jig I reserve exclusively for the moment after that Sushi goes in my mouth!) my baby benefitted from that moment of happiness a great deal more compared to a minor risk of parasites from the fish (which I could have allowed to create great anxiety and stress and countered by eating fresh fish from a reliable restaurant). It’s all about balance.
Our beliefs about whether something is good of bad determines just how good or bad it ends up being. If you feel stressed and guilty about a cup of coffee drank during pregnancy your body will respond appropriately with the necessary stress response and definitely have a negative effect for you and baby. If you are aware of the possible detriment of a cup of coffee while pregnant but you choose to really enjoy that cup of coffee your body will produce all the feel-good hormones etc linked to that moment of enjoyment.
Bottom line: if something ‘bad’ is considered not so bad after all and enjoyed within reason the result for the body will be far more healthy than if you do believe it is bad for you! And if something ‘good’ actually causes distress it is not going to be so good for you after all. So when you are enjoying your ‘bad’ thing that actually makes you feel really good then just tell that someone else who thinks it is ‘bad’ to shove off before they make your good experience a stressful and bad one with their own beliefs!