The Pregnancy “Yes” List: A New Maternity Health Philosophy

by Natalie McBride

The Pregnancy “Yes” List: A New Maternity Health Philosophy

“non-experts deploy authoritative knowledge in order to govern pregnant women’s bodies, health, and consumption.”


Even if you’re not pregnant, you’re probably familiar with the “No” list. You may have overheard conversations where people are telling pregnant women that they “shouldn’t eat sushi”, or asking, “are you able to eat that while pregnant?” Or perhaps you’ve been at the receiving end of some other judgement call like, “those heels are too high to be wearing while pregnant”. We’re challenging this notion, so unbuckle your guard, lift your hands up before the drop and #bebold with us…

You know you best

You might be wondering why we’re challenging the “No” list, or thinking “isn’t it just there to help keep you and your baby safe?” Great question and here’s our position: we believe in the autonomy of women. You know you best, even when you doubt yourself. Yes, it’s great to have guidelines, but who wants to live their life according to a list of “no’s”? You’re creating life itself, and while that’s a mighty responsibility, you’re also quite capable of making good decisions while you’re pregnant. It’s as if pregnancy is some disease with a natural consequence for women losing all good judgment. The only judgment we might lose is our depth perception, with that big beautiful belly in front of us.

Now, one might argue that women’s good judgment while pregnant is thanks to this “No” list. Maybe, but that’s not the whole story. Pregnancy doesn’t cause lack of good judgment. Women are still making great decisions for themselves and their embryos because they’re capable human beings. Perhaps it’s the guilt that causes good judgment? We beg to differ – everyone suffers from the grip of guilt. If anything, the guilt is what dissuades us from living out our fullest life. We’ve experienced and witnessed how the “No” list begins the breakdown in women’s self-confidence into motherhood and that’s a narrative we can change.

The “L” Word…Lunchmeat, that is.

Eating a deli meat sandwich is simply not going to harm your baby. The odds of your cold sandwich carrying Listeria is incredibly low. So, if you fancy a ham and swiss or a turkey and brie – eat up momma! Wait – did she just say “brie”? Yeah… Unless you’re eating at some sketchy restaurant or shopping at an untrustworthy grocery store, don’t pass up on the God-sent goodness of cheese if it doesn’t read “pasteurized”. The odds, again, are incredibly low of your cheese carrying Listeria.

By the way, it takes an alcoholic’s level of alcohol consumption to affect your baby. Now, drinking isn’t probably the most healthful choice and isn’t required for survival (at least not until you’re a parent), so while unnecessary, a few drinks are not going to cause FAS (fetal alcohol syndrome). If you’d rather not drink alcohol, don’t say no to a happy hour with friends! Mocktails are a fun way to enjoy being social while pregnant

A New Mantra

You know that saying, “all good things in moderation”? That’s probably a better mantra to live by than a complete “No” list – wouldn’t you agree? Unless you’re craving crystal meth, any other craving you experience while pregnant isn’t a proven derailment to your baby’s healthy development. You may want to eliminate or lower your risks of potential complications and that is completely understandable. Whenever I craved a sandwich, I’d choose to eat at a Firehouse Subs, a Jacksonville-local sub shop that is known for its steamed meat sandwiches! At home, you can pop your deli meat in the microwave or toaster oven and enjoy a sandwich at a lower risk, too.

Jessica Galen put it best in her article in the Graduate Journal for Food Studies, “non-experts deploy authoritative knowledge in order to govern pregnant women’s bodies, health, and consumption.” As women, we know this arbitrary “No” list exists and when you’re pregnant it can really cramp your new {life}style. Don’t let it. You are a woman first and foremost and you possess good judgment. #babyboldly

Today’s Bold Momma

Natalie is co-founder of Baby Boldly, wife to James and mom to Abigail (4 years) and Mabel (1 year). Her passion (alongside pizza and chocolate) is with new moms and dads, striving to empower them for improved birth and postpartum experiences and changing the way society relates to new moms’ and dads’ unique needs.

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