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jfos's avatar

How much say does a to-be father have about what the pregnant mother-to-be does / does not eat?

Asked by jfos (7362points) February 12th, 2010

[Excuse any potential ignorance towards non-1 male/1 female relationships…]

If a woman is pregnant with a man’s child, how much control does he have over what she eats? If she is eating only junk food and greasy meals, do you think he has any authority in having her eat better? Also, if she is not eating foods that have vitamins, minerals, etc., is it acceptable for him to strongly suggest that she eats fruits/vegetables?

I’m fairly certain that the man has no legal authority in this case, but what do you think? It is his baby as well, is it not?

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59 Answers

njnyjobs's avatar

It’s not so much what you impose on her but rather how you present alternatives that are better and healthier for her and the baby. If given less choice in opting for junk stuff and presented with acceptable nutritious options, then the father ensures somewhat the health of the mother and child.

janbb's avatar

You have whatever power the mother to be wants to give you; unfortunately, no more and no less.

Trillian's avatar

Is this the same man in the Avatar? The role model with two women and what looks to be a beer in his hand?

Snarp's avatar

@janbb Said exactly what I planned to, word for word.

janbb's avatar

@Snarp Great minds think alike. :-)

Snarp's avatar

@jfos You can strongly suggest whatever you want, but she doesn’t have to listen. She really should be taking a prenatal vitamin, and that will pretty much take care of any lack of vitamins and minerals. After that as long as she is getting an adequate supply of fat, protein, and calcium and isn’t consuming alcohol or anything likely to carry disease organisms (like undercooked meat or seafood), then it really doesn’t matter all that much what she eats.

marinelife's avatar

The father-to-be has no legal rights. But he does have the option of cherishing the mother-to-be with care which includes fixing her healthy meals, and bringing her healthy treats.

wundayatta's avatar

You have no “control” whatsoever. You can’t force feed her, or lock her up so she can’t go down to the corner store for a bag of Doritos and a coke,

You can try to educate her as to the harm she can do her baby by eating crap and not letting the child have a decent chance in life. You can show her how good different goods are, health-wise. Perhaps most important, you could cook for her. It would make her life easier, and it would be much easier to get the good stuff in front of her.

No draconian changes, either. Slowly increase the good stuff and let the bad stuff disappear. It’s your kid, too. Take responsibility. Don’t just lay it all on the mother. Do you even have a long term relationship with her?

jfos's avatar

@wundayatta I don’t have a baby on the way. I was thinking about this yesterday, and I thought I could get some good feedback from the Fluther community.

Snarp's avatar

@marinelife Yeah, I get a lot of say in what my pregnant wife eats because I cook it. Of course she eats what she wants and I’ll pretty much get her whatever she asks for.

wundayatta's avatar

@jfos Well, that’s a hypothetical question with so many unconstrained variables that it is practically impossible to answer, except by saying the obvious: the woman is not the slave of the man—at least not in most countries.

Generally, when asking hypothetical questions around here, we identify them as such. You know—to help people from not making fools of themselves?

Shae's avatar

No man has any authority period over any woman that is not his underage daughter.

jfos's avatar

@wundayatta 1) I know that woman is not the slave of man. I’m simply asking because I would like to know what others think about this issue, one that has had a notable grip on my mind since yesterday.
2) I apologize for not broadcasting its hypothetical nature, but I don’t think that anyone should be making a fool of themselves. I never specified that I was inquiring about someone pregnant with my child right now.

Val123's avatar

The same amount of control she has over you to make you do things you might not be interested in doing.

jfos's avatar

@Val123 Is it not different because she is pregnant with both of their child?

Shae's avatar

The fact that you use words like control and authority is what is disturbing.

Seek's avatar

It is not a question of “authority” at all.

No person can simply order another person to choose a salad over Buffalo Wings, solely because they had sex.

It is a question of mutual respect. If the partners have a good relationship, perhaps the woman might take kindly to a “Honey, why don’t I make us a nice chicken sandwich on whole-grain bread and a spinach salad for lunch, instead of going to Taco Bell again?

jfos's avatar

@Shae I didn’t mean anything demeaning or ranking-esque with those words. I guess I couldn’t think of the right words to use.

Snarp's avatar

@jfos It’s still her body. If she doesn’t want to listen, she doesn’t have to. If they have a decent relationship, then as @Seek_Kolinahr said above she might not only listen to, but be glad of some healthy suggestions if they are made nicely (and include the offer of preparation).

It would certainly be troubling if the man and woman were not in a relationship, but the man was willing and trying to offer support but the woman was really not taking care of herself, but there’s nothing you can do about it, it’s her body, and she’s the one who has to push the baby out. I also don’t think that the man should get to tell a woman she can’t have an abortion, but if she were going so far in not taking care of herself and her baby as consuming drugs and alcohol, then it would be better if she got an abortion.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I think the father to be has every right to be concerned as to what his wife is eating when carrying a child that is 50% his. Ideally, in my world, proper nutrition would be something both people involved would discuss before getting pregnant because it does make a difference. Once in this situation, he can give her some books to read or mention going to see a nutritionist or cook healthier meals for her. Pregnancy can be tricky because of nausea and cravings so some of the things that a person wouldn’t ordinarily eat like hot sausages and burgers (that was always a no no for me until pregnancy) they start to eat and that’s okay – their body is telling them what the baby needs. If her diet is ONLY greasy and fattening foods, I’d be concerned, yes, not so much for the baby but for her overall health, possible issues towards end of pregnancy and so forth, including harder time getting back in shape later and getting your body back on a healthier track.

Val123's avatar

@jfos The fact is, you don’t have any say. What if the father of her baby is engaging in some dangerous or illegal dealings that could cost him his life? How much say does she have in getting him to stop? She can nag, she can beg, but in the end she can’t actually DO anything unless he agrees.

jfos's avatar

@Val123 I understand that, but the husband selling drugs does not directly affect the unborn baby’s physical health. That’s the center of my question.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Val123 I just don’t get these situations – is this the norm? why wouldn’t he agree that his dangerous behavior should stop? why wouldn’t the pregnant mother agree that she should eat better? I don’t get people whose marriage is a constant battlefield – what’s the point?!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@jfos it can affect the baby’s health if it affects the mother’s emotional health.

Seek's avatar

I just know when I was pregnant, there were a few weeks where the only thing I wouldn’t throw up were carrot cake and Dr. Pepper.

Being instructed that I should be eating broccoli, when everything I eat was revisiting me anyway, would have pissed my hormonal self off to the point of throwing things – or breaking down and crying. Two things my hubby did not want to see.

jfos's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Haha, that’s why I put directly. I knew someone would catch me on that!

KatawaGrey's avatar

I’ve been following this question for a little while and have decided to throw in my two cents.

A lot of people answering this question seem to think that @jfos wants to control the hypothetical woman carrying his hypothetical baby. I think this is a valid question though. Like @Simone_De_Beauvoir I don’t eat red meat or meat of any kind and if I get pregnant and I start to have those craving, I would like to have someone who will help me out either trying to figure what meat substitutes I can eat that will give me the same protein or find me the leanest, healthiest meat possible. I think the father does have some say in what the woman carrying his child is eating. What if he buys the groceries? What if he cooks the meals? I think that he absolutely has some say in these situations. I certainly don’t think that he has dispensation over everything she eats, but since a woman’s body changes so dramatically while pregnant, she may simply have no idea what’s good to eat and what’s not.

@Snarp: Why would it be “troubling” if the parents of the unborn child were not in a relationship?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@jfos I know and I’m not nit-picking here – just saying that it all makes a difference.

Snarp's avatar

@KatawaGrey The troubling part is knowing that a woman is going to give birth to a child that you want, but isn’t taking care of it and isn’t letting you help at all. I expect that situations in which the two people are not in a relationship are the situations in which this is most likely. If you are in a relationship and don’t communicate, that’s a problem of its own, but I would hope that people in a relationship having a child together are discussing these things like reasonable adults.

I didn’t mean to imply that parents not being in a relationship is troubling on its own, it’s the entirety of that second paragraph that is troubling.

Val123's avatar

Well, as some are suggesting, there may be deeper issues here than controlling what a woman eats.

casheroo's avatar

I recently asked my husband if he was upsetwith me for drinking coffee during this pregnancy..something I didn’t do with my first pregnancy. With my first pregnancy, I followed all the rules..even the silly ones, but I still ate terribly (craved sweets and ice cream a lot) My husband put his foot down this pregnancy, not in a rude way at all. He told me he knows how rough the last pregnancy was on me…so maybe staying healthy would make this one more comfortable. And it may have seemed like he wasn’t indulging me as much, but that’s really not the case. Also, I have legs..and a car, I can always go out and get whatever it is I want.
I think a guy has every right, as @Simone_De_Beauvoir said, to be concerned and talk to the woman about it. It’s all in the approach and the intentions. If the intentions were selfish and he came to me telling me he didn’t want me to get fat, I’d be pissed…but if it was out of sincere concern for the baby and me, then of course I’d listen and want to keep on top of it even more.
A supportive partner means a lot when it comes to pregnancy.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@casheroo exactly, it’s not like I have to be defensive about everything my husband says – why should I be? he loves me and the baby so whatever he’d say about nutrition, I’d listen.

jfos's avatar

I’d hate to disturb the recently calmed waters, but otherwise my energy would go to waste.

IF there was a situation in which there was only enough food / money for food to feed one person fully or two people inadequately, do you think it would be the to-be father’s responsibility to forego eating in order to feed his baby and baby mama? Imagine this predicament both in modern society and in our ancestors’ wild, nature life.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@jfos as I hate to imagine much about our ancestors and their ‘wild, nature life’ because there is no one way that they used to be, I’ll just answer for our society – in that situation, I know my husband would forego eating well so that I can eat well because it’s a better investment but overall if this was our situation, we’d try to figure out a way out of it.

Val123's avatar

@jfos Yes. However, in the wild, the father would still have to have enough to eat to keep his strength up to forage and hunt. So it’s a catch 22!

wundayatta's avatar

Let me ask you a question, @jfos If pigs wore high heels and it snowed sand, should a pregnant woman eat bananas or mushrooms? How about if her husband were a left-footed aardvark keeper?

wundayatta's avatar

@jfos Ask a question that fucking matters. Tell us your motivation for the question. Until you get honest, I don’t think anyone should answer this question any more. He’s just jerking us around like a troll.

Val123's avatar

OK…...can we have some specifics on what the mother-to-be is eating that the father-to-be would consider “junk food.”?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@wundayatta whoa, relax – his question is acceptable and you sound a bit too angry

jfos's avatar

@Val123 Hm… French fries, pizza, cheesesteaks, chips, soda, etc. Fried food and basically just stuff that’s unhealthy and would be unhealthy for the growing baby.

jfos's avatar

@wundayatta The questions obviously matter to me, which is why I asked them. If you don’t want to follow it, that’s fine with you. You don’t have to rally opposition towards a considerably pertinent question that could apply to any couple that has or will have a kid.

And what more motivation do I need to make public other than I want to know? Maybe I just want to hear a variety of opinions. In that case, your unnecessary, hotheaded response is actually accounting for some of that variety.

Dog's avatar

[Mod Says:] The question is valid and meets Fluther guidelines.
Please keep on topic. If you have nothing beneficial to add to the conversation please resist the temptation to post and move on to the next question.

Thanks!

janbb's avatar

@jfos To get back to your question, I was kind of assuming from the wording that the hypothetical father did not have a permanent relationship with the mother. If he did, I would think his love and concern would certainly have an effect on her, but in any case, as I said, it is still up to her.

Val123's avatar

“French fries (potatoes), pizza (meets all the food pyramid requirements…really not bad for you), cheesesteaks (not sure what that is….potatoes?), chips (potatoes), soda (sugar), etc. Fried food and basically just stuff that’s unhealthy and would be unhealthy for the growing baby.”....well, honestly. The food itself really is healthy enough, especially the pizza. The fact that it is soaked in oil isn’t so splendid, but I don’t think it’ll be that unhealthy for the baby. How’s her weight?

I’m having a hard time believing she can choke that stuff down though. In my first trimester everything but toast and chocolate milk made me sick. Although…get this….I actually got cravings specifically for McDonald’s cheeseburgers! I had to laugh at myself when I thought, “I wonder what the women in the old west did when they got cravings for McDonald’s anything!” :)

Snarp's avatar

@Val123 Cheesesteak is a Philadelphia classic, thinly sliced steak, chopped up and fried with onions and peppers, slapped into a hoagie roll and topped with cheese. Provolone in my version, but sadly some Philadelphians think it should be cheese whiz. Again, not terribly unhealthy except for the fat. Use olive oil and it’s pretty good for you.

Snarp's avatar

Fat is an essential nutrient for brain development. While a fully balanced diet is best, eating more fatty food when pregnant is not necessarily bad, particularly for the baby.

The soda, if consumed in typical American quantities could be more of a problem and potentially lead to gestational diabetes I imagine (though I could be dead wrong on that, just making an assumption about something on which I’m really not an expert.).

Dog's avatar

It is far more unhealthy to under eat than to eat fatty foods. There are some pregnant women who are afraid to gain weight will actually diet while pregnant.

Supacase's avatar

If he cannot make nor prevent her from having an abortion, deciding whether or not a child is even born, he certainly does not have any rights about what she eats, which could affect whether or not the child enters the world as a healthy little person. He can give opinions and make suggestions, but it pretty much stops there.

casheroo's avatar

Honestly, what you eat isn’t going to hurt the fetus…what matters when it comes to eating is the mother’s overall health. Too much weight gain can make the pregnancy more painful, maybe she has gestational diabetes and isn’t following the diet…that’s the only time it’d really affect the baby.
I eat pretty much whatever I want, and it’s not like it’s going to give my fetus bad eating habits. Those habits develop after the child is one and eating solids, that’s the crucial time for a child.
Really, what risk of eating junk is there for a fetus? Other than the mother gaining too much..which my doctor said just affects the mother’s ability to lose the weight…there’s really no risks. (This is coming from a “gainer” while pregnant. I gained 50lbs with my first son, and I’ve already gained 55lbs with this one..and I’m still cooking. My OB says it’s fine.)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@casheroo my OB and nutritionist both said it was not fine to gain more than 35 pounds for me…not that my body listened either time but I find it hard to believe that all gyns across the board would say such weight gain is perfectly fine…not that I don’t think it’s perfectly fine, I do…but they wouldn’t

bean's avatar

she’s a bombshell waiting to happen, make her angry, feel her wrath
you don’t get a say when she’s in pregnant mode, and being the father of a baby doesn’t have anything to do with what the mother eats… I reckon if she’s eating thats all thats needed, but it wouldn’t hurt if she took some vitamins too.
what about vitamin tablets and stuff?

casheroo's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir that’s the thing though, you can’t always help how much a woman gains…even with eating healthy, and exercise, some women just gain a lot. It’s what their body does…usually women who were underweight to begin with.. That’s just what I’ve been told by a couple OBs (I have a different one this time around) Also, you said for your body, right? What about the fetus? What can it do to a fetus?

Snarp's avatar

My wife was a little heavier to start with this time, so she was told not to gain too much. We didn’t really keep track, so I don’t know if she stayed in the limit. The docs never said anything about it after that first appointment. She didn’t gain a lot outside of her belly, which was true last time too, but her belly is enormous this time.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@casheroo I don’t think the weight gain hurts the fetus directly..only if the mom gets diabetes or her BP spikes and some studies connect higher weight to higher weight at birth for infants, making C-sections more likely

Val123's avatar

Well, in the end, eating can be a pretty touchy subject physically for a women. There were some things I just absolutely could not handle, and some things that I just craved. I ate steamed broccoli for the first time when I was pregnant. Not because I felt I had to, but because I suddenly wanted to. I still love it. During one pregnancy I got a craving for pickles, which I hate! But I loved them during that pregnancy, but I still hate them now.

I’d say, leave her alone!

DrMC's avatar

I wouldn’t want to be told what I should eat.

If be hurting the unborn it’s a dicey issue. At what point is it child abuse?

I think if it’s like this you belong in marriage counseling yesterday. I’ll not say who’s right or wrong. Basically I don’t know – but that’s just too primal a struggle for you furless ones.

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