Sushi and alcohol are just the tip of the iceberg. In the last two decades, the lists of things a pregnant woman can't eat or do without putting the fetus "at risk" is a mile long. Not that I didn't mind eating sushi for two, but I had to wonder, what were all the pregnant women in Japan eating every day, if not fish?
Anyway, two articles that provide some slightly overwrought context to the dire warnings, paranoia and guilt ("If I eat that bleu cheese, my orange-sized fetus won't get into Harvard!"). On Slate, Sara Dickerson lays out a history of pregnancy diet advice. Turns out much of The Must Avoid list hysteria is timed to the introduction of the What to Expect When You're Expecting book series, in the early Eighties.
Meanwhile, Alex Kuczynski gives voice to the mothers on the Upper East Side charity benefit circuit, who, in a fit of Urbanbaby-fed masochism, added tanning, botox, brazilian waxes and manicures to the forbidden list. [Sample UB message board quote: "'You mean like a tanning bed? You can't be serious? It gets HOT in there. You're better off standing in a microwave!'"]
Question: what do sushi, obsessive pseudo-scientific diets, tanning salons, botox, a surge of parenting books in the Eighties, and hyper-programmed urban mothers have in common? Baby Boomers. I can't help wondering if there's a generational component to what seems like an increasingly anxiety-ridden, risk aversion-centered approach to pregnancy. Just thinkin.