My philosophy going forward is in line with Angelo Coppola's catch phrase: "Humans are not broken by default." The thing that really bothers me about medicine+pregnancy is that the most natural and important human function, MAKING MORE PEOPLE, is treated as a condition, an illness, something to closely monitor and test and treat and overanalyze. Sure, a lot of people today, even women of child-bearing age who should be in prime health, are pretty sick. They're sick because of the way they eat, because they don't sleep enough, because they work too hard, because they forgot how to play and have a good time. But when you address those lifestyle issues, when you eat a healthy, ancestral-inspired diet, get the rest and the play you need, and take care of yourself, you will not be sick. You do not need to be fixed, or supplemented, or monitored, or tested.
If something goes wrong, as it sometimes does, that's when medicine is there for you. This is the country to live in if you have a preterm birth or delivery complications or neonatal illness. That's modern medicine's job, and I consider myself very lucky to have access to that kind of advanced care and technology. But a healthy, normal, well-nourished, well-rested, strong pregnancy? Stay the hell out of my business.
I call bullshit on:
- Prenatal vitamins. If you're eating a grain-free diet, your body is actually able to absorb the nutrients you need from the food you eat. Supplementing is unnecessary, often doesn't work (for example, minerals and fat-soluble vitamins are notoriously hard to absorb from a pill), and can even be harmful if you get too much of certain nutrients. I make sure I'm getting plenty of folate from eggs and meat, and I supplement Vitamin D, fish oil, and magnesium. I don't have a problem with supplementation per se, and multi-vitamins may make sense for some people, but the idea that every woman needs to take a prenatal vitamin is wrong.
- Heart rate restrictions. Don't get your heart rate over 140! That's absurd and outdated. Toss that heart rate monitor. There are much better guidelines for avoiding overexertion.
- One-size-fits-all lifting restrictions. Strength training is invaluable during pregnancy. No, you won't be going for your PR back squat or repping out heavy snatches. But challenging yourself and lifting at 50-80% of your max (depending on various circumstances) feels great and keeps you strong. Yes, what you can do depends on how strong you are when you start out. That is common sense. I did 65# push jerks the other day and didn't really think about it. If you've never hauled a barbell over your head, that would be a bad idea. But the combination of your own intuitions and a coach who knows your abilities is a better guide of what you can do than a doctor who's never seen you lift more than your purse.
- Oral glucose testing for gestational diabetes. Fat burners are naturally insulin resistant. Giving someone who is not used to large doses of carbohydrate a huge dose of glucose and then seeing that they have trouble releasing insulin to deal with it does not mean they have diabetes or dysfunction of any kind. It just exposes them to an unnecessary physical stressor and introduces a not-small likelihood of a false positive diagnosis.
- Iron testing. Testing for iron in your blood does not test how much iron is in your body, as your body hoards heavy metals (this is very bad in the case of lead and mercury) and releases them selectively into the blood. If you are eating eggs and red meat and not blocking nutrient absorption with grain consumption, you are getting enough iron. Supplementing with iron can be dangerous, as you can end up with too much, or it can be useless if your body can't absorb it, not to mention iron supplements have some nasty side effects.
I was willing to go along with some of it, especially testing, just to keep my doctors happy. But I knew I was going to draw a hard line on the glucose testing. And since I got such a negative reaction, I'm going to draw a hard line on everything now. I AM NOT BROKEN BY DEFAULT, so my default now is that I'm a healthy pregnant woman who doesn't need every test and intervention in the book. If I'm convinced that something is medically necessary or useful FOR ME, I'll do it. Otherwise, I'll pass. And yes, I'm looking into switching to a different practice, though I might not follow through since I only have about 3 months left and there could be insurance issues. But I am looking into it.
Let's make this post a little more positive. I've found a few resources that have been much LESS about frightening women and much MORE about women being empowered adults.
- CrossFit Mom. A great resource on real fitness during pregnancy and postpartum.
- Alpha Mom. A no-nonsense blog about pregnancy and parenting with a wonderful sense of humor peppered throughout.
- The Strong Mama. My friend Alex's blog. She is my role model when it comes to strong pregnancy, standing up to modern medicine, and sensible parenting.
Now, I need to do something other than rant on here. So here are some in-progress knitting photos. See, I'm really a sweet, mild-mannered domestic type. Ha ha.
The front and back of a pillow. Still needs to be blocked, sewn, and stuffed.
Some silver-gray booties in progress:
Yet another MDK burp cloth. These things are like potato chips (can't stop at one), and even more fun in variegated yarn. When I knit from cones, Mike accuses me of running my own sweatshop.