Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Avoid during pregnancy

Those who have had the experience, brief or full or prolonged or repeated, of being pregnant will be familiar with the sets of Avoid That rules that govern the gravid woman.

Some of them are false and socially constructed (e.g. you cannot lift anything at all, not even an empty box), others have a scientific basis (e.g. avoid listeria like the, errr, plague, because it is particularly likely to cause miscarriage or stillbirth - that one's for you Eric Roy). The first type will no doubt be spouted to the pregnant one repeated, for free, and possibly even when they are not pregnant. The second variety is generally supplied by the lead maternity carer at the earliest possible opportunity.

But there's a third set of stuff I reckon you should avoid during pregnancy that is rarely discussed. I thought it might be a useful service to create a bit of a list here.

I refer of course to media. Here's a few ideas I've had:

Books to avoid during pregnancy
  • Eleven Hours by Paullina Simons - woman at full-term car-jacked, awful torturous experience ensues
  • The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenberger - miscarriages galore
  • Midwives by Chris Bohjalian - about a delivery gone very wrong
  • The Red Tent by Anita Diamant - actually I'm unsure about this one - miscarriages and bad outcomes galore, but actually a very positive story about midwives, pregnancy and birth too
  • The Mesmerist by Barbara Ewing - while the pregnancy bits are fine I found the idea of having your children so unfairly taken away from you even more awful to contemplate whilst growing one
  • Is Anybody Out There and Watermelon by Marian Keyes - the first might make you too sad, the second might make you too angry, particularly with your partner if a he.

Movies/TV to avoid during pregnancy
  • Pan's Labyrinth - horrific delivery scene, which does not end well for the mother
  • The Sound of Music - just awful to think about the possibility of going through pregnancy and delivery that many times
  • Juno - I haven't seen this at all, but I have heard some comments that it's not good to watch while pregnant, anyone able to share why?
  • Private Practice - the final of the last season shown here, and I suspect the first of the new season - stalker cuts baby out, that's all I'm going to say
  • Actually pretty much any episode of ER, Grey's Anatomy etc that features a birth scene - they are already in a hyper-dramatic hospital setting so chances that things are going to go well are low. Plus personally the noise the heart rate monitors make freaks me out everytime.
  • Jack and Sarah - mother dies in childbirth

Music to avoid during pregnancy
  • That song by Pink Floyd that features prominently the line "and the worms ate into his brain" - kind of makes the building of new life feel pretty futile
  • "Stan" by Eminem - I used to quite like this song, before I had ever been pregnant. Saw the video again the other day and felt sick.
Ok that's all I've got for now - any suggestions/disagreements/comments?


Marianne said...

The world needed this list. I'd also love to see a list debunking the stuff on the first list...

I'm not sure about Juno - I'd say you might want to be wary of watching it when you are trying (unsuccessfully) to get pregnant. But that's another list entirely!

Anonymous said...

Isn't it Niffennegger? Claire does eventually give birth, and then the husband dies. Result?

Good list. Am particularly amused by the avoidance of sushi. What do pregnant Japanese women eat?

Anonymous said...

...and must they avoid "Sushi for Beginners"?

Boganette said...

We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.

I've never been pregnant but reading that made me want to get my tubes tied so I'd never have a kid.

Hugh said...

Juno is basically a Republican party pro-life tract cunningly disguised under a lot of superficially subversive imagery (independent music, quirky fashion sense etc etc). And it worked, too!

Angela said...

Rosemary's Baby, definitely. My mum saw it when she was pregnant with my brother, and it freaked her right the hell out. Pretty sure bro's not demonspawn though, just arrogant like his dad.

A Nonny Moose said...

How about Twilight? Don't read the garbage, but I understand that a werewolf baby eat's it's way out of the womb?

Richard said...


notafeminist said...

Regarding Juno, I read it as a girl who had to decide whether she was more freaked out by the prospect of an abortion or a pregnancy. Important aspect: it was her decision. I don't think it's uncommon for a woman to be pro-choice, but unwilling to have an abortion themselves. It's all about choice.

On top of that, it kinda celebrates divorce (ie, it's a waste of time being with someone who you're 'not meant to be with').

It involves a woman who becomes a single, adoptive mother, without implying that she will be a bad mother - in fact the implication is that this baby will be more loved by one parent who really loves hir rather than one loving parent and one reluctant, apathetic parent in an unhappy relationship.

The poorer family (featuring Daddy on wife number 2) are regarded to be the happier one, whilst the rich couple are shown to have an often strained relationship that eventually collapses. It also addresses inability to have babies, which goes against the whole man-woman-children Traditional Family shtick that ignores those on the fringes.

Juno's pretty best friend is sexually attracted to conventionally unattractive, older men.

It features a young man talking about sexual reproduction matters in a completely uneducated way, and I got the feeling that the film was criticising lack of comprehensive sex education - ie, none of this would have happened if they'd been properly informed. I didn't come away with the message of 'abstinence only'. I came away thinking about how awful it would have been if Juno hadn't had a supportive family, and how her reproductive choices could have been severely limited otherwise (in that her family could have explicitly forbidden abortion, or she got an abortion out of sheer terror of what her family might think).

So considering reproductive choice, celebrating divorce, positively portraying single mothers, positively portraying lower income families, addressing women who are unable to conceive, possible supporting comprehensive sex education in high school, and young women who have the sexual freedom to openly desire unconventional relationships - I'd say it's not fair to say that this is 'basically' anything - and definitely not 'basically' a anti-choice, Republican (and I'm not sure they have much of a position on a lot of these things. You may be referring to the moral/family ideas of the stereotypes of the Republican party, and of course, I don't deal in stereotypes.)

On an on-topic note, though, Rosemary's Baby temporarily terrified me out of the idea of fatherhood, even.

notafeminist said...


Also, from memory, in "I, Claudius" Caligula, well, (**stop reading now if you're squeamish**) I think the implication is that he impregnated his sister and then, in an effort to be as Jupiter was, he eats the foetus before she gives birth, obviously killing both her and the baby. So, I wouldn't go there either.

Lucy said...

How about Twilight? Don't read the garbage, but I understand that a werewolf baby eats it's way out of the womb?

Vampire baby is bitten out of the womb by its father after breaking its mothers spine by kicking too hard, but close enough.

(No, I don't read them, but there are some deeply hilarious recaps out there.)

Noble Savage said...

Do not, under any circumstances, read The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing while pregnant. Dear god, what was I thinking?! Great book but terrifying for a mother-to-be.

M said...

Definitely avoid We Need to Talk About Kevin. That book had me looking sideways at my children after reading it, never mind being pregnant!
I would add The Memory Keeper's Daughter (baby taken away at birth) and watching 'Peices of my heart' - NZ drama that deals with teen pregnancies in a home for unwed mothers...babies also taken away, horrible birth scenes. Shudder.

Megan said...


Oh dear lord, me too. Over Christmas, I met someone whose daughter had not long ago died, and she was reading it, and said a friend had recommended it.

I said: "Stop immediately. Seriously, stop now. The person who told you to read it hates you, and does not want you to be happy. Stop reading right now."

Anonymous said...

My partner gave me Baby No-Eyes when I was pregnant. Good book but not the best timing.

Also when you have a small child - don't read The Handmaids Tale - I used to get nightmares thinking how we would keep our noisy daughter quiet in the same situation. Very depressing book even when you are not pregnant or have any kids!

Anonymous said...

Sushi - on the "no" list in New Zealand, but wasn't in the UK.

Apparently parsley is on the no list in Italy.

Anonymous said...

Anything published by the IPCC - too near-term apocalyptic for anyone in the throes of bringing forth the next generation.

Phoebe78 said...

We need to talk about Kevin!?!? I read it by audio book on a solo road trip at 9 weeks pregnant. A very bad plan.