I'm now some 10 days past my "official" due date, but a week or two ago I knew, I could just feel that I'm not really at my "due date" and not ready to go into labor yet. There are a few physical and psychological signs I felt towards the end of my last pregnancy, and that I feel now, the most prominent of which is restlessness and emotional readiness to go into labor, as opposed to anxiety about what's to come and wishing it didn't have to happen just yet.
I stopped going to my prenatal visits because I know that at this point, all I'll get is pressure to artificially induce labor and perhaps a few invasive and useless cervical examinations. I've been saying for a long time I have a feeling the baby will probably be born around end of August and not mid-August as was suggested. Every stage in this pregnancy simply felt "delayed" as compared to the previous one, from the onset of morning sickness to feeling my baby move for the first time, and many other symptoms – but most health care providers are interested in fixed dates and numbers, not in complicated stuff like the intuition of pregnant women and the alchemy of hormones that will decide, if left unhindered, when you will go into labor.
In the meantime I've been reading up and building a post-partum nutritional plan for myself. I am ashamed to say that last time around, I didn't watch my nutrition very carefully. I am naturally thin and have had to struggle to keep my weight on while nursing. I know some of you might say you'd love to trade with me, but being extremely thin is not healthy for a nursing mother or indeed for any woman during the reproductive period (obviously thinness is a relative term, but you'd better keep an eye on your constitution to ensure healthy weight). The result was that I began my second pregnancy weighing about as much as I did in ninth grade. Now eating well is much easier to keep up with because I have a toddler who has fixed meal times and eats grown-up food so we usually eat together.
For many years, I hadn't touched meat or fish, though my diet contained liberal amounts of animal protein in the form of eggs and dairy products. After reading Nourishing Traditions, I realized that what helped me avoid various deficiencies (even though I never took any supplements before pregnancy) was probably also the presence of animal fats in my diet. The dairy products I consumed were never low-fat, in fact, I grew up in a home where sour cream is liberally added to soups (a practice that is unfamiliar for most Israelis). I was a healthy vegetarian.
Anyway I, a person who could not bring herself to eat fish for 12 years, found myself munching on fish during my first pregnancy, following an irresistible craving. I especially wanted salmon. Again, reading Nourishing Traditions and learning how highly valued fish and other seafoods (and fish – not all kinds of fish, mind you - are just about the only kosher seafood) were for women in the reproductive stage, helped me put things in perspective a bit. I've been eating fish ever since but I still find myself unable to eat meat and I do not believe it's strictly necessary if I eat liberal amounts of protein and fat from animal sources anyway.
I think it's very important to listen to your body and your cravings during pregnancy, using discernment of course. Obviously if you crave a bag of Doritos, it doesn't mean your body needs Doritos. But if you find yourself wanting real food, even if it's something you don't normally like or consume at all, perhaps it's worthwhile to give it a try (unless you know you're allergic to it of course).
However all conventional diets for pregnant and nursing mothers are PC, meaning that they are relatively low-fat, and especially low in animal fats. I find this illogical, for example, how first people are told omega-3 is good for them, and then they are encouraged to eat lean fish. Obviously, omega-3 will be found in fish oil – the fatty fraction of fish. I read recommendations to new mothers "not to consume less than 1,500 calories daily" – considering how nursing alone will burn about one third of that amount, I find this recommendation dangerously low. I'm also appalled to find nutrition experts write out menus where a "recommended" night time snack is ice-cream or some chocolate. Obviously most people indulge in ice-cream or chocolate from time to time, but including it in a daily menu makes it seem as though this is ideal, which it isn't.
This time around, I plan to be much more responsible about my nutrition. Nourishing, high-value foods for a nursing mother aren't indulgence, they are a must!