what to eat? or, how to make a child

Growing a baby inside your body makes you think a lot more about what else you’re putting in there–talk about some motivation for deliberate eating!  One of my best friends, when she learned I was pregnant, asked if I now imagine everything I eat as making a piece of the new little person.  As in: I just ate some bread, which is becoming a baby-foot.  That’s not exactly the way I’ve been thinking about it, but we’re getting there.

One of the strange things about pregnancy is that you’re both given leave to eat whatever you want (ice cream in the middle of the night? why not!), and told how bad everything is for you (peanuts will give your unborn child allergies!).  In reality, both of these perspectives seem somewhat ludicrous, from the perspective of the pregnant person.  If I wasn’t supposed to sit around eating bonbons all day before, why on earth would it be alright now?  And some preliminary research into food allergies (see this fascinating piece published last year) will show you we really know nothing about them, or their relation to what we consume in vitro.

Journalist and science writer Annie Murphy Paul decodes some of these mysteries in her (really very good) book Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives.  Following the journey of her own second pregnancy, Paul brings the latest science and the most scintillating history to light in language and style so approachable, it made even this squeamish prego feel comfortable and well-informed.

Paul doesn’t concentrate on what to eat, or what diets are best for the little growing alien in your belly, so I’ve decided I need to explore elsewhere.  I was a mostly-vegetarian pre-pregnancy, but all the pressure to up my iron and protein for the little gizmo got to me in the first five months or so.  Now I’m rethinking that buffalo meat in last night’s pasta.  Should I revert to my veggie ways? go vegan? become a raw foodist?  I’m really at a loss.

This area obviously requires more research, and ideally some scientific data to back up any conclusions I may reach.  I’ll see what I can find.

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