Partum Shots: 9 Months of Diet Advice

Pregnant women endure stranger's thoughts about what's best for the baby.

ByABC News
May 7, 2013, 8:23 AM

May 7, 2013— -- Along with swollen ankles, backaches and belly pats from strangers, Sarah Quina will tell you one of her biggest pet peeves while she was pregnant was the unsolicited nutrition advice she received.

Once she was quietly enjoying a pastry in her university's cafeteria when a young woman she barely knew sat down at her table and lectured her about the dangers of sugar to her unborn child.

"That woman drove me crazy but she wasn't the only one. At times it seemed like everyone was on top of me for anything I put in my mouth," she recalled.

Many pregnant women share this experience. It's as if the sight of a baby bump is a license for everyone from relatives to relative strangers to freely share their thoughts about what's best for the baby.

Sometimes this well-intentioned advice isn't even accurate.

Take peanuts. Pregnant women are often told to avoid eating them because they up their child's risk of peanut allergies. The idea is so pervasive that Kate Middleton sparked pregnancy rumors back in 2011 when she politely declined to sample a bite of peanut paste during a visit to a United Nations aid depot in Copenhagen.

This controversial theory is supported by one or two small studies. Far more studies have found no greater incidence of peanut allergies if the mother herself or a close relative does not suffer from them. And several studies have found that peanut ingestion during pregnancy can actually reduce the risk of peanut allergies in children.

Yet that doesn't stop people from scolding pregnant women who dare to nibble on the legume while out in public.

The same is true of coffee and wine. Although some obstetricians and gynecologists take the position that both beverages are safe in moderation, many pregnant women report getting dirty looks and having nasty remarks hurled in their direction if they so much as take a sip of either beverage. (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states no amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy.)

"Yes, I got dirty looks when I had a little wine with dinner while I was pregnant," said Grace Miastkowski, mother of two. "You would think I was shooting up heroin."

Even pregnancy weight gain is seen as fair game. Dr. Jennifer Ashton who is ABC News senior medical contributor and a practicing ob-gyn, said she was told by several people that she was "abnormally small for her stage of pregnancy" while carrying her first child.

"Translation – you are starving your baby," she said. "And P.S., I wound up having a 7 pound 9 ounce health baby boy."