Hooray! My little sister is going to be a great Mummy and I’m really looking forward to sharing the inevitable ups and downs of the tremendous journey that begins with pregnancy and birth. She and her partner have told family and friends about their visit from the stork and are now well familiar with the advice phenomenon- everyone has some and it is always different to the next persons. Well.. Why should I be any different? I have some advice too and since this is my little sister and since she asked for my opinion..

Here are the questions my little sister asked when she came for dinner a few days ago along with my answers. I figure there are lots of other pregnant sisters out there that I’ve never met and they might also be interested in my advice. I’m thinking of starting an “Ask Auntie Jules” column. I really like the sound of that.. Auntie Jules 🙂

“Is there anything I should be doing or not doing now?”
Firstly, if you have the gift of common sense, ie. you’re not out partying at the local with baby on board, there are no shoulds. What’s good for you may not be what was good for me or anyone else. When someone gives you advice, they are usually telling you what was good for them.  Sharing information is great but don’t feel obliged to embrace anything anyone tells you. Instinct is a powerful thing, now is a good time to learn how to use it.

For at least a few weeks, let your mind catch up with idea that you’re going to be a Mum. Let your body make the adjustments it needs to make to grow a baby. Give yourself rest and peace… and good food. You can give in to cravings; they usually tell you what you’re missing. Just don’t go nuts and eat a whole packet of anything in one sitting. Read my ‘The Basics of Eating Well for Pregnancy’ post from last week.

Take a pre-natal vitamin and a fatty acid supplement. This is important. Read more about what you want in a pregnancy multi and why you should take one here.

“What foods do I need to avoid”?

Well… The official list is fairly long, but doesn’t really need to be so complicated.
Definitely avoid coffee and alcohol and anything that has been sitting in a bain-marie for a while.

Deli meats? Yes avoid them, full of nitrates and can contain Listeria which can cross the placenta and cause both Mum and baby problems. If cooked, they are not as bad since the bacteria is killed off by cooking. The nitrate based preservatives are still not good for you or baby, or anyone else for that matter.

Mould ripened soft cheeses? Well, we have this thing called pasteurisation which kills bacteria including Listeria. The official line is: You’re hard pressed to find a brie or a camembert cheese made from raw milk in Australia so I say you are O.K with these, just check labels to make sure the milk it is made with was pasteurised. Though as usual it is not really that cut and dry- there are great benefits to raw milk and cultured raw milk products, especially in pregnancy. There is a good post summing up this argument here: http://www.honesthuman.com/?p=165.

Avoid furry cheeses like blue vein or any other cheese that contains a visible growing culture, though you can use these in cooking with no worry.

Avoid foods that have been pre cooked especially things like ready BBQ chicken and salad bar salads especially those from supermarket deli’s. Fresh is best.

Sushi? Avoid sashimi if you can’t be sure of its freshness, it’s really only the raw meats that you need to be concerned about. I think super fresh sashimi from a quality Japanese restaurant is probably O.K and I admit to indulging in some while I was pregnant. Don’t substitute my judgement for your own, use your own discretion. Again, if it’s fresh, it’s likely to be O.K and actually really good for you.

Leave any left overs for Daddy to be. Pregnant sisters should avoid reheated foods.
No to raw eggs, fully cooked is best.

Fully cook all meats including steaks. If you don’t want meat, no worries. You can be a healthy pregnant vegetarian and have a healthy vegetarian baby, just keep an eye on iron and B12 levels.
See here for info about vegetarian diets and pregnancy.

I think that is enough to take on board for a Mumma who has just found out she is pregnant. Everything else can wait. Nine months is plenty enough time to deal with everything else. Just kick back and let your body do its job. Decisions about the birth and pregnancy health care can wait a while yet and will happen in their own time. No need to rush into practical considerations just yet.

Look after yourself, my beautiful pregnant sister 🙂