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Jane Bates: Advice that’s tough to digest

Nutrition advice to pregnant women can cause anxiety, and a sense a proportion is needed, says Jane Bates

Nutrition advice to pregnant women can cause anxiety, and a sense a proportion is needed, says Jane Bates

A friend, to her surprise and joy, is pregnant with her first and much longed-for child. But early on, unaware, she ate a small portion of liver.

Could it have done any harm, she asked, clearly distressed. I must have looked blank because she asked if anyone was at home.

I am so out of touch with modern prenatal advice, no wonder I was bemused. When I was a midwife and having children myself, the guidelines regarding nutrition in pregnancy were different. Surely liver is good for you, I said.

Now liver is frowned on

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Nutrition advice to pregnant women can cause anxiety, and a sense a proportion is needed, says Jane Bates


Picture: iStock

A friend, to her surprise and joy, is pregnant with her first and much longed-for child. But early on, unaware, she ate a small portion of liver.

Could it have done any harm, she asked, clearly distressed. I must have looked blank because she asked if anyone was at home.

I am so out of touch with modern prenatal advice, no wonder I was bemused. When I was a midwife and having children myself, the guidelines regarding nutrition in pregnancy were different. Surely liver is good for you, I said.

Now liver is frowned on

In my day, it was almost a rule to eat a portion once a week for the vitamin A and iron. Now liver is frowned on, she tells me, on account of that very vitamin they used to say we needed in spades.

In an attempt to gain some perspective, we consulted my old midwifery textbook, a massive tome that was the obstetric version of Google in its day. There were no food restrictions back then, just advice to eat a balanced diet and that ghastly, nausea-inducing, stomach-gagging, weekly dose of liver.

Now the list of don’ts almost outweighs the dos. It is a wonder expectant mothers dare eat anything at all.

Times and patterns of behaviour have changed to reflect the latest research, and we should always follow current NHS guidelines. Of course we should, but the anxiety and guilt felt by mothers-to-be negotiating a sometimes bewildering set of rules can be detrimental to good mental health at such a vulnerable time.

A sense of proportion is never a bad thing.


Jane Bates is an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire

 

 

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