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What to Expect When Pregnancy Books Scare You

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Instead of easing my fears, pregnancy books freaked me out!

pregnant woman reading

Yvette Manessis Corporon: Nine years ago, I lined up seven (yes, seven!) pregnancy tests on the windowsill of my Brooklyn bathroom. Overcome with joy, shock, and pure terror, my husband and I silently stared at all of them as I poured my mug of coffee into the toilet. That was the beginning of the end.

The end of looking at my morning coffee as anything other than a cup of liquid poison with the potential to harm my developing fetus, the end of looking at a turkey sandwich as anything less than a Listeria-laden time bomb -- and the beginning of my pregnancy paranoia.

I devoured every pregnancy book known to man. But as it does with many nervous first-time moms-to-be, too much information soon leads to too many fears. Every meal was sprinkled with potential baby-hurting hazards. Every pain, throb, and pang prompted panic attacks of biblical proportions -- "BUT THE BOOK SAYS THIS COULD MEAN SOMETHING IS WRONG" became my mantra. Instead of enlightening me, books like What to Expect When You're Expecting scared the hell out of me with their worst-case scenarios. Even benign tools like Your 40-Week Planner played into my fears if I hadn't met the milestones exactly as they were described in the book.

Now two beautifully healthy children later, I feel like an absolute fool for buying into the scare tactics and not allowing myself to enjoy my first pregnancy more. Listen up, all you fearful first-time moms and any other nervous moms-to-be: there IS a way to get the information you need without the side serving of terror. As he so often does, Dr. Mehmet Oz has once again come to the rescue.

"Where were you when I needed you?!" I demanded when I greeted Dr. Oz to talk about his new book, YOU: Having a Baby: The Owner's Manual to a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy, co-written with Dr. Michael Roizen.

He nodded and smiled, knowing exactly what I was getting at. "When you're stressed out," he explained, "you affect the health of the child in ways that are very measurable. Autism rates go up, attention deficit rates go up." If that's not reason enough to relax, I don't know what is. "We wrote this book not to scare women, but to enlighten them," he added. Oprah would be so proud.

Look, there's always a certain amount of fear that goes along with the joy of being an expectant mom. Dr. Oz isn't sugar-coating the potential dangers, but I found his breezy, conversational tone helps educate in a way that doesn't make you think your baby will come out with three heads if you dare take a sip of that cappuccino.

Take a look at a few of my favorite nuggets:

  • Half of American women don't realize they are pregnant after they get pregnant. Every woman who is fertile should be on some kind of a multivitamin. Basically it's an insurance policy in case you are not eating an ideal diet.
  • Eating cold foods rather than warm foods can help prevent and cure morning sickness.
  • Stay away from those mall boutique sonogram stores -- they use higher energy than your doctor's office, and they can damage the baby's hearing.
  • You can actually control how the genes of your baby will be turned on or turned off with the groundbreaking new understanding of epigenetics and how your pregnancy forecasts your baby's future.
  • BPA from carbon paper receipts is 100 times more likely to do more harm than BPA from water bottles. Always wash your hands after handling shopping receipts.
  • Phthalates are chemicals that are found in some cosmetics and inhibit the production of testosterone. Mothers who use a lot of cosmetics with phthalates in them tend to have boys who don't play with trucks and soldiers but play with dolls instead.
  • Adopt a Chia pet -- you can eat the chia seeds or sprouts for a healthy dose of omega-3 fats and fiber.
Who knew?!

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3 comments so far | Post a comment now
Stefanie December 8, 2009, 5:41 AM

My step-mother gave me her copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting, and I read it…kind of. I read what are good ideas for calcium and what not. But for everything else, I am winging it. I live in an area with sidewalks, so I walk. My husband did his own research, and helps with the probably shouldn’t eat this category. If I get overly fretful, he looks at me and says, “My mother smoked heavily, and drank tea and coffee everyday she was pregnant with me, and I turned out fine.”

stephanie December 8, 2009, 7:48 AM

I’m all for pregnancy books that relax people…but did I really just see a ‘warning’ that essentially stated that using too much makeup might make my son effeminite? Sounds like this book is just as bad as the rest of them!

DC nurse December 8, 2009, 8:43 AM

The cosmetics tip is shocking but a valid concern nonetheless. Phthalates are found in some cosmetics, not all. There are several studies which have linked these chemicals to hormonal imbalances in children. It’s the same reason you should not microwave food in plastic containers. The more you do it, the more the chemicals leech into the food and into your system; and if you are pregnant, into your fetus’ system as well.

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