Part 2. I have yet to find a job more competitive, more closely scrutinised and more severely criticised than motherhood. But unlike your average 9-5, it’s a vocation where the competition, the scrutiny and the criticism come not just from your work colleagues but from absolutely everyone: your family, other people’s family, your friends, other people’s friends, the media and, the worst culprits by far, fellow mums.
During my first pregnancy, I gave up very little in terms of food. I abandoned the espressos, the soft cheeses and the pâté but I still ate medium steaks, soft boiled eggs and sushi.
Because I felt that I’d done my research, and I couldn’t see any concrete evidence to suggest that these things would do any harm to my baby. But I wouldn’t have dreamt of advising other mums to follow my own example, because every woman has to make her own decision as to what she feels is safe to eat.
One of my friends only ate cheese and ham sandwiches for 9 months, and even though she’s the only pregnant friend I know to get food poisoning, it was not my place to tell her she should be doing otherwise.
It’s a shame that other mums don’t feel the same: you wouldn’t believe the number of pregnancy forums I see where “Sarah from Hull” with her DD1 and DS2 (I still have no idea what these terms mean) proclaims to know that eating sushi will do irreparable harm to your unborn child. If Sarah from Hull had expanded her Internet research further than something she read on Mumsnet, she would have seen, for example, that in Japan (a country with the highest life expectancy in the world) women are not advised against eating raw fish.
Make sure you read the final part of the "Judgement" series next week!