While we were away in Europe, I consulted several locals on the advice I'd been given about what not to do during pregnancy. Specifically, do the Dutch ride bikes while pregnant? Do pregnant women in France eat soft cheeses and drink red wine? Do Belgian pregnant women abstain from all the delicious beer? I wanted to be adventurous as was safely possible and have a gastronomically good time, so I thought it would be wise to hear what the locals had to say on these matters.
#1 Do the Dutch ride bikes while pregnant?
Yes. One of the very charming things about the Dutch is that they LOVE their bikes. If you look around, you will find that the Netherlands and the Flemish regions of Belgium are some of the most bike-friendly place in the world. There are well-paved and well-marked bike lines not just in the city but all over the countryside, as well. But there's not a fear of falling? Who was I to ask in a city with the most wretched sidewalks in all the world?
So, asking whether Dutch pregnant women ride bikes is like asking Mexican pregnant women if they eat corn tortillas. It's a way of life! And what to do about your little tots? Attach a big wooden crate to the front of your bike, and it becomes the family vehicle.
#2 Do pregnant women in France eat soft cheeses and drink red wine?
Depends. Cheese that has been pasteurized is okay, and red wine is definitely okay in moderation. One night, we were presented with a plate of cheeses, one of which was an unpasteurized Roquefort, and I did not partake even though everyone at the table raved about it. I'm not usually one to heed pregnancy advice, but I also didn't want to be that girl who gave her baby some weird bacteria just because mama couldn't resist a little Roquefort. Another time.
#3 Do Belgian pregnant women abstain from all the delicious beer?
No. In fact, our B&B host in Brugge said that during her stay in the hospital (an astounding 5 days!) she was given a trappist dark brew to facilitate lactation. That's how seriously Belgians believe in their beer. We became such fans of Belgian beer that we were willing to haul two (very heavy) six-packs of Westvleteren trappist beer back home.
Westvleteren is considered the most secretive trappist brewery of the six in Belgium, and the only one where the monks are still involved in the day-to-day making of their beer, making it a special and prized drink if you can get your hands on one. It is considered Beer Advocate's #1 in all the world, and our baby will be one of the lucky ones to have a taste when he/she arrives!
The blond (8%) was good, but the dark (10%+) is the real deal.
Wonder why the monks prefer such alcohol-laden brews?!?
We had such a fantastic time on our vacation, and whoever thought of a babymoon is genius. It was perfectly relaxing, memorable, and delicious. The chocolate, wine, beer, ice cream, waffles, fries, and pastries were divine (the heartburn afterward, not so much).
We planned our trip around the tulip season in the Netherlands, but so did everyone else in the world. It was madness.
Walking around Brugge is like being on the set of a medieval movie set