I am not an Incubator.

I remember being pregnant, munching down on yet another packet of red licorice, when I stumbled across research that linked eating licorice during pregnancy with behavioural problems in children.

That night, while snacking on my in-law’s home made salami (not a euphemism) I realised something. I am not a frikking incubator. I am not a machinery device designed to cook a baby at the exact right temperature and humidity.


Today Can of Worms host and Sunday Life columnist, Chrissie Swan has confessed to secretly smoking while pregnant with child number three after being snapped by paparazzi. I can almost hear the drones coming.

We know that smoking causes damage. We know about the serious implications, but that doesn’t make it any less addictive. Nicotine is widely regarded as one of the most addictive substances there is. Some compassion wouldn’t go astray here.


For what it’s worth, I once ate an egg that was cracked, a salad from a takeaway joint, a sneaky piece of Brie cheese. I drank coffee. This one time I even ate an apple without washing it first!

I dyed my hair.  I had a spray tan. Twice. My heart rate went over 140 bpm while exercising. One time I drank a half a glass of red with a meal. Before you go telling me that I was irresponsible, I consulted an Obstetrician throughout my pregnancy because it is MY body. No one else’s.

Some of the more ridiculous snippets of advice I received when pregnant included:

* Do not stand up while riding a bike.

* Do not listen to loud music

* Avoid contact with reptiles.

* Do not eat junk food.

* Don’t drink tap water.

So pretty much just lock yourself up in a small padded room and rock back and forth….but gently. That’s not good for the baby either.

What is the most ridiculous bit of advice you’ve heard regarding pregnancy?


  1. Mrsceeeceee says

    So true…advice changes so quickly the only way to get it all right IS to lock yourself in a room until the baby comes. :(

  2. says

    I agree that no pregnant woman is an incubator. I don’t agree with the risk comparison of smoking to eating deli food. I’m not judging Chrissie, it’s her body and her pregnancy but smoking is a high risk with a range of complications as opposed to taking a chance on food safety. I just wonder if everyone would be so defensive of an addiction if it was an alcohol addiction?

    • says

      Not sure I implied anywhere that eating deli meat is the same as smoking? I don’t disregard how serious it is and I’m not meaning to sound defensive, I just hope people show some compassion to how serious an addiction it is and realise pregnant women are not perfect.

      • says

        I do agree with you, my point (poorly made unfortunately) was that unfortunately addiction is frequently misunderstood and while I do think understanding (or at least a lack or judging others) is very much needed I wonder if people would be able to be compassionate if her addiction was to another substance. You’re right you didn’t imply a connection between the two it just seemed to make light of the risks of smoking when jumping from it to the things you listed. I’m sorry that I’ve taken that the wrong way and offended you.

        • says

          Oh no, not at all! I was just concerned I had worded myself poorly…which I may have! I understand your point about other substances, it’s a tricky one.

          • says

            I also don’t think it is your wording but how emotive the topic is, I think the more emotionally charged something is the easier it is to read it wrong (for me anyway).

          • says

            You’re right. It’s hard to disengage from the emotion for me too sometimes – and I think the post could’ve benefited from more details on the smoking risks too, so I’ve learned something :)

  3. Kirrily says

    Here’s the advice I was give: Hold your breath at the fuel bowser. Oooookay then. Because passing out from lack of oxygen is better. Apparently.

    Oh, and? I even had ANY number of my miscarriages (there are double figures of those) blamed directly at something I must have done. Oh, AND? My daughter’s congenital heart defect? Yu-huh…. more than one person has even gone there with the ‘gentle-voiced’ questions of whether I might be responsible because I *gasp* continued to exercise when I was pregnant and so perhaps that translated into … I don’t know. Frying her heart genes??

    Gimme a break. Give everyone a break.

  4. says

    I agree there is a lot of ridiculous advice for pregnant women, but I don’t think “don’t smoke” is one of the ridiculous ones. And as much as it is OUR body, it’s a body we have to share with a growing human being. One we are responsible for. I hope something really good comes out of this – like lots of pregnant women doing the same thing have the guts to get help and kick the habit. If we excuse smoking b/c it’s addictive, then what about alcoholism, heroin, cocaine? There are lots of ways to get help! And while we’re having a discussion about this, and raising awareness to the dangers of smoking while pregnant, let’s also talk about paparazzi who follow people home for work and take photos of them in their cars. Let’s slap some laws and judgement on them too! Pricks!

  5. says

    Don’t eat junk food while you are pregnant, because the taste of the food goes through to the placenta, thus shaping your baby’s tastes for life. I kid you not.

    Personally, smoking during pregnancy disgusts me, but I put that down to being married to someone with a serious lung disease, being a reformed smoker and the fact that I need to undergo a police check, invasive procedures and shell out several grand to get pregnant again. None of these things are really related, they are just my own anger and envy issues I guess!! Having said all of that, I don’t think that 5 cigarettes a WEEK really compares to up to a packet a day, which I have witnessed someone very close to me do.

    Every week it seems like there’s some new guideline introduced or removed (don’t eat nuts during pregnancy your baby will be allergic, eat nuts during pregnancy so your baby is exposed to trace elements and they aren’t born allergic). Seems to me the best thing to do is exercise common sense, listen to your body and get through it as best you can. And look forward to the fact that your *real* chance to fsck them up comes after they’re born ;)

  6. Karen @ rhythm&method says

    I feel a bit sorry for Ms Swan. The Rolling Stones have a song “Mother’s Little Helper”, about a mother using drugs to get by. Women have been using drugs to get through the stress of motherhood since before our mums were drinking while pregnant … Although I wouldn’t exactly strike up myself, I do think it says volumes about the world we live in and how much we like to pile it up on mums, many of whom are just trying to get by. Shit, I know lots of my friends mums smoked while they were pregnant. I don’t drink or smoke, but sometimes I wonder if it might help? LOL. What does black humour say about my mothering skills?! Tut tut.

  7. PhemiEology says

    I just love the expectation that as soon as a woman gets pregnant everyone believed (even her fellow women) she must suddenly become a perfect specimen of a human…Virgin Mary Guilt anyone?… But she’s not…she’s still the same uniquely flawed individual she was before getting pregnant, who will most of the time just try a little harder, because she’s trying for someone else other than herself….which is what is so unique to feminine nature… I wonder if it was men doing the ‘incubating’ if they would be able to make the same personal sacrifices a woman has to in order to bear a child….

    And I think in the case of Chrissie here, it is in her remorse that makes her a
    good mother in the end. I don’t think the confession or this conversation is to
    ‘condone’ cigarette smoking while pregnant, but rather to open the conversation about forgiveness… Because the best version of ourselves cannot grow out of a pile of guilt and shame (given either to ourselves or through others), but out of forgiveness and love…like only a mother knows how to do… So perhaps Chrissie, and all the Chrissies out there, could do with a little bit of “mother type love” from the world eh?…just a little yeah?….

  8. says

    This is a great post – what gives people the right to comment on other people’s choices just because they are pregnant? Are they going to push the baby out? Are they going to be getting up at 3am to settle a screaming baby? Are they going to be the one raising it fiancially, mentally, spiritually and physcially for the rest of their lives? NO… so keep your mouths shut!

  9. Deb_BrightandPrecious says

    We can certainly go overboard when it comes to pregnancy advice. I think I was told not to eat olives… I still don’t know why. Anyway, in an ideal world we’d all exercise caution and live happily ever after. (Or perhaps in an ideal world we’d be able to do anything we like during pregnancy… or not be pregnant at all… I digress). Point is, we’re not in an ideal world and women deal with all sorts of addictions. Sadly there are also women who feel the need to judge other women. Its usually insecurity and pain that make a woman judge in the first place. Can we all have some healing please.

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