Ep. 8: Gimme That Cheese – Pregnancy Cravings and Fun Facts About Fetuses
September 11, 2018
In Episode 8 of the Big Fat Positive podcast, Shanna and Laura discover that they both have anterior placentas, discuss fascinating (and cheesy) facts about their developing fetuses, and dig into the topic of pregnancy cravings. Laura is 15 weeks pregnant, and Shanna is 19 weeks pregnant.
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Laura Birek: Hi. Welcome to Big Fat Positive with Shanna and Laura. I’m Laura.
Shanna Micko: I’m Shanna.
Laura Birek: We are friends and writing partners who happen to be pregnant at the exact same time, so we decided to start a podcast about it.
Shanna Micko: On this week’s episode, we have our weekly check-ins. We have a segment called, “Today I Learned,” where things get unexpectedly cheesy, and we do our weekly BFPs and BFNs. Let’s get started.
Shanna Micko: Hi, everybody. Welcome to the show. This is episode eight.
Laura Birek: Yes, episode eight. Hi, Shanna.
Shanna Micko: Hi.
Laura Birek: Tell us what’s been going on with you this week. We’ve got to do our weekly check-ins.
Shanna Micko: All right. So I am week 19 and the weird body pregnancy things just keep on coming. The hits keep coming, Laura.
Laura Birek: The hits just keep on coming. Tell me more.
Shanna Micko: I have had intense headaches every day.
Laura Birek: No.
Shanna Micko: Every day it’s like there’s just so much pressure in my sinuses. I wake up in the morning, my head is throbbing and I’m prone to headaches anyway. But when I was pregnant with my first, they went away. It’s like pregnancy cured my migraines, but not this time. I’m just in so much pain and as you know, I’m so mad about the fact that we can only take Tylenol when we’re pregnant, because it doesn’t do shit.
Laura Birek: Tell me about it.
Shanna Micko: So I just try to manage this head pain with a couple Tylenol and working full-time and taking care of a two and a half year old and having throbbing head pain, it’s just so draining. I’m just drained and sore and grumpy.
Laura Birek: Ugh. What a pain! I’m sorry.
Shanna Micko: Thanks. Of course, I Googled it because I Google everything and apparently in the second trimester, extra sinus pressure is part of the package.
Laura Birek: Great.
Shanna Micko: That’s because you have more blood and everything’s swelling and there’s just more inflammation up in my face. I’m not happy about that.
Laura Birek: I’m sorry.
Shanna Micko: No, it’s okay. One interesting thing I learned, I had another check-in with my OB this week. He told me I have an anterior placenta. It’s on the front and I did not know that.
Laura Birek: Oh my God, Shanna.
Shanna Micko: Huh?
Laura Birek: I have an anterior placenta.
Shanna Micko: What?
Laura Birek: That was my check-in for this week.
Shanna Micko: No, are you serious?
Laura Birek: Yes.
Shanna Micko: Oh my God, this sisters. This is so weird.
Laura Birek: Seriously that was my check-in for this week.
Shanna Micko: Oh, that’s so funny. I really don’t know what that means totally, except that I guess you’re just not supposed to feel as much movement.
Laura Birek: But last week you were saying you were already feeling movement, so that’s encouraging.
Shanna Micko: I will say I felt the movement I’ve been feeling really, really low. I don’t feel much up around my belly button or anything. It’s all really low mostly just like kicks on my bladder and stuff, so it could be getting in the way of feeling movement in certain areas.
Laura Birek: That’s so interesting, because you’re obviously a month ahead of me. That was my check-in for this week. I don’t want to jump in on yours, but I think this is such a weird coincidence.
Shanna Micko: That is really weird. Now, I’m done checking. Let’s check with you.
Laura Birek: Well, Shanna…
Shanna Micko: What week are you?
Laura Birek: I am week 15.
Shanna Micko: Okay.
Laura Birek: I went to the doctor and I found out I have an anterior placenta too. Listeners, this was not planned. We had no idea this was going to happen. I always knew we had a lot in common, but I didn’t know this was one of those things, Shanna.
Shanna Micko: Well, it’s weird too, because anterior placentas are not like the norm, right?
Laura Birek: No.
Shanna Micko: I think we should explain that to listeners, because I had no clue before.
Laura Birek: Oh, yeah. I’m sorry. That’s true, because I didn’t even know what it was before and we’re both talking about it, because we’ve probably both Googled the shit out of it at this point.
Shanna Micko: But of course.
Laura Birek: Placentas as we all know are the organ that attaches to the wall of your uterus that helps filter the blood and feed your baby and all that good stuff and most women end up with I guess it’s probably called a posterior placenta or a normal placenta probably, which is on the backside of your uterus. So it goes your belly button, your baby, then the placenta, then your spine. But for us, it goes belly button, placenta, then baby, then spine. This is a low tech explanation of it. That’s probably wrong in about a hundred different ways.
Shanna Micko: I think it’s the general gist. Like the baby’s buried a little bit deeper than it would normally.
Laura Birek: The placenta is on the front side rather than the backside and so it’s padding basically. It’s a big pillow that’s padding the movement of the baby that you usually feel, because I guess what you feel is usually that front side kicking and punching and rolling, right? I didn’t know what to think about it. I went in and I had an ultrasound and he’s like, “Oh, yeah. So you got an anterior placenta.” It’s so funny. My doctor who you know Shanna, because he was your doctor for a little while. Super nice guy. He’s very casual. “So your placenta is in front. You have an anterior placenta. Now if I could get pregnant, that’s the kind of placenta I would want, because as you get later in pregnancy, you’re going to be very happy to have that extra padding.” He said, “Because you don’t feel as much movement, the baby won’t wake you up as much and it won’t be as uncomfortable.” I have no idea if that’s true.
Shanna Micko: Oh, you’ll find out, I guess.
Laura Birek: We’re both going to find out.
Shanna Micko: Yeah.
Laura Birek: We’re going on this anterior placenta journey together.
Shanna Micko: Oh, that is so funny. Well, cool.
Laura Birek: The other thing he said was that my placenta was a little low, but he says they move a lot. They migrate, so he said not to be worried about it that I’m going to get checked. I guess my next appointment is going to be my anatomy scan. So in about five weeks that’s when we’ll see if my placenta has moved.
Shanna Micko: But isn’t it attached to your uterus? How does it move?
Laura Birek: I guess when your uterus stretches and grows, it like moves with it. So it gets higher or lower.
Shanna Micko: Oh, I see.
Laura Birek: He said it was a little low, but it’s too early for it to be an issue. If your placenta is very low and covers your cervix, then you have placenta previa and it can be a complication and you probably have to have a C-section and all kinds of stuff. But I’m going to cross that bridge. He said he didn’t even really want to tell me, because he says they often move and it’s not an issue. But we’re going to find out where my placenta migrates in a couple weeks if it does at all.
Shanna Micko: All right. I’m curious to find out.
Shanna Micko: Our next segment is called, “Today I Learned,” where we talk about interesting, unusual, bizarre facts that we’ve learned about pregnancy recently. Laura, what have you learned?
Laura Birek: All right. This one was pretty exciting for me. I found out that your baby supposedly can taste what you eat, especially like really, really strong flavors. Apparently, if you eat a lot of garlic, those flavors can pass through the placenta into the amniotic fluids. So your baby can like taste it.
Shanna Micko: Whoo!
Laura Birek: I know. I eat a lot of at garlic.
Shanna Micko: Same.
Laura Birek: I’m the type of person when I cook, I always double the garlic in the recipe, at least double or triple. Like if you look at a recipe and it says one clove of garlic, I’m like, no.
Shanna Micko: What’s even the point?
Laura Birek: What is the point? I’m like, that’s like a three or four clove of garlic minimum. Baby’s definitely going to like garlic. Apparently, there was some study that said that if you drink a lot of carrot juice when you were pregnant, your baby preferred carrot juice, part of me is like, who’s drinking all this carrot juice?
Shanna Micko: Who drinks carrot juice? I don’t know.
Laura Birek: I know juicing is really big in LA, but even I don’t think there’s a lot of carrot juice around. Maybe carrot juice just isn’t in vogue anymore. Maybe it hopped for a while. I’m thinking, yeah, my baby is definitely going to like garlic and definitely going to like pineapple. As discussed in a previous episode, I’m obsessed with pineapple right now. So probably going to give birth to a pineapple. That would be really unpleasant. That’s a C-section for sure: giving birth to a pineapple. Actually, I’m trying to think like, should I start eating things that I want my baby to like, because I always worry about having a kid that’s going to be a crazy picky eater, because I love food and I love all kinds of different foods and I can’t imagine having a kid who will only eat grilled cheese sandwiches. Grilled cheese sandwiches are delicious, or like Dino Nuggets.
Shanna Micko: They are.
Laura Birek: My nephew when he was a kid that was the only thing he would eat those dinosaur shaped nuggets from Costco.
Shanna Micko: I guess we got to check in with his mom and find out if that’s all she ate when she was pregnant.
Laura Birek: I highly doubt it, but I’m wondering if I should just start eating really, really strong tasting food so my kid has a good palette. I think it’s a plan.
Shanna Micko: Go ahead.
Laura Birek: That was my education for this week. What did you learn this week?
Shanna Micko: Like I said earlier, I’m week 19 and I learned that in week 19, the baby is now covered in vernix. Do you know what this is?
Laura Birek: No, what is vernix?
Shanna Micko: Vernix is a waxy cheese-like white substance that covers the baby’s entire body. The word vernix roughly translates to cheese varnish in Latin.
Laura Birek: Of course.
Shanna Micko: So I’ve got a little baby covered in cheese varnish inside of me right now. But the purpose of it, which is kind of cool, it’s like a second skin and it’s made of oils secreted by the skin and dead cells and lanugo. Remember lanugo?
Laura Birek: I do remember lanugo from a few weeks ago.
Shanna Micko: It protects their developing delicate skin from floating in the amniotic fluid, because imagine if you floated in a bathtub for nine months, your skin would be so wrinkly and peeling and stuff like that.
Laura Birek: Oh, yeah. It’d be like shaved. It’s like Bag Balm.
Shanna Micko: What is Bag Balm?
Laura Birek: Oh, you’ve never used Bag Balm? Bag Balm is this like really, really, really thick, lotion’s the wrong word for it. It’s a balm. It’s like a really thick paste that I guess the way they marketed is that originally it was designed for cows’ udders and then farmers started realizing they really liked the way it made their skin not dry. It was a really good moisturizer. It’s actually pretty great if you’re in the winter somewhere and your skin is just flaky and terrible. It’s just the thickest. Maybe it’s like vernix. It’s like a cheese-like cover on your baby.
Shanna Micko: Oh my God, brilliant.
Laura Birek: There’s nothing more distressing though to realize that you have a fetus inside of you that’s covered in it cheese-like substance.
Shanna Micko: You think that’s the most disturbing part about this? Let me carry on.
Laura Birek: Okay. Please continue.
Shanna Micko: I’ve learned a lot about vernix. Of course, without it they would come out looking like even way more wrinkly and troubled than they already do. So they keep this on their skin till about 34 weeks.
Laura Birek: Wow.
Shanna Micko: Then it thickens up and then they shed it a couple weeks later. Probably I guess around 36 weeks they shed the vernix and at that point it combines with the lanugo, which is also shedding and it mixes with the amniotic fluid, which your baby swallows and that becomes the contents of her first poop, which is called meconium.
Laura Birek: I knew about meconium. I didn’t know that it was made up of cheesy hairballs.
Shanna Micko: That’s what it is. I did kind of always wonder what solid substance would be inside the intestines, because I remember my first daughter, her meconium… It’s kind of crazy.
Laura Birek: Great.
Shanna Micko: There you go.
Laura Birek: Cheesy hairball.
Shanna Micko: Aren’t you so glad I told you about that?
Laura Birek: There’s just always something to look forward to. This is why having you going ahead of me by four weeks is such a blessing, Shanna.
Shanna Micko: Anyways, there you have it folks.
Laura Birek: That’s awesome.
Laura Birek: We wrap up every week by talking about our BFPs and our BFNs for the week. Shanna, what do you have for us this week?
Shanna Micko: Today I have a BFP.
Laura Birek: Oh, thank God.
Shanna Micko: I know. Hoo, after all the headaches and everything. As is the synchronicity, this often comes up in our episodes, Laura, because we’re so in sync. This touches on something we oddly already brought up this episode.
Laura Birek: Really?
Shanna Micko: Yeah, I just did not see this coming. My BFP this week is carrots.
Laura Birek: So you were one of those people.
Shanna Micko: Yes, I’ve never liked carrots. I will endure them, because they’re healthy. Cooked carrots, forget about it. Raw carrots, I’ll force myself to eat them if they’re on a crudité and I can dip them in Ranch. But for some reason, lately when I open a bag of carrots to give some to my daughter, I’m just like, I need to eat 15 carrots right this second.
Laura Birek: Wow.
Shanna Micko: So my body is totally craving carrots.
Laura Birek: That seems like a good thing for sure. Definitely a BFP.
Shanna Micko: It’s totally a good thing. I’m glad they are there. On the other flip side, my other massive craving right now is sugar. Just brownies, cookies, caramel M&Ms. So I’m craving the good and the bad. Go ahead.
Laura Birek: I was just going to say I think I know what you need to do. You need to make a carrot cake.
Shanna Micko: Oh my God.
Laura Birek: Right?
Shanna Micko: That’s so brilliant. More like I need to go buy a carrot cake. Let’s be real, I’m not going to make a carrot cake, because I’m not crafty like that, but that sounds amazing. Or like a cheese frosting.
Laura Birek: Yes, so good.
Shanna Micko: But we haven’t really talked about cravings much. I know you were into pineapple a couple weeks ago. Have you had any odd cravings lately?
Laura Birek: Oh, no. Well, here’s the thing. I’m just kind of a person who likes all food in general, so I haven’t had any specific cravings other than the pineapple I think. But even that, it’s not so much a craving as much as like a trend. Does that make sense?
Shanna Micko: Yeah.
Laura Birek: Every once in a while, I do this when I’m not pregnant, I just go on a kick of buying certain thing for a while and you know like right now it’s pineapple. It’s not like I go all day and I’m just like, “Oh my God, I have to have that pineapple.” So cravings haven’t really kicked in for me.
Shanna Micko: Interesting.
Laura Birek: That said, I’m always hungry. I crave food constantly. To be fair, I do, “You know what I really want.” I think it’s because I can’t have it or I’m not supposed to have it. What I really want, even though I’m not really supposed to have it and I know you kind of have different opinions about this, but I’m sort of weird about it is I really want the Godmother sandwich from Bay Cities.
Shanna Micko: Oh, girl. I’ve had multiple in this pregnancy I am not going to lie.
Laura Birek: Oh my God, I might have to give in.
Shanna Micko: I’d say that is or just like a sub-sandwich in general is my top craving this pregnancy hands down and you’re right. I know you’re supposed to avoid deli meat, whatever. But I had a doctor in my first pregnancy that was like, “If it’s a reputable source, it’s totally fine. Those are whatever kind of outdated rules.” I ran with that and have not looked back. I’m living on sub sandwiches, so I’m so sorry that you feel limited and can’t have the deliciousness.
Laura Birek: Well, I asked my doctor and he was like, “Yeah, you’re not really supposed to.” I was like, “No, you are supposed to give me permission.” For people who don’t know, Bay Cities is this Italian Deli in Santa Monica, which is not anywhere near where I either of us live.
Shanna Micko: No, I hit it after we go to the beach.
Laura Birek: That’s what I always do. If I go to the beach, I go to Bay Cities. They have this thing called the Godmother and it’s like a baguette or a crunchy Italian roll and all the different kinds of pork deli meat. It tastes so good.
Shanna Micko: I want one right now. You’re making me hungry.
Laura Birek: But is that a craving or is that just like, because I can’t have it?
Shanna Micko: I don’t know.
Laura Birek: I don’t either.
Shanna Micko: I am allowing myself to have it and I do crave it definitely, so I don’t know. I think you can throw it in the craving category.
Laura Birek: But also I craved it before pregnancy. I feel like maybe that’s the thing we should just define if it’s specific to pregnancy or if it’s just a thing we like.
Shanna Micko: This is true. Like with carrots and sugar, even those are very specific to pregnancy because I like cookies and Canyon stuff, but I don’t ever really crave it and need it outside of pregnancy and definitely not carrots. I don’t give two shits about carrots.
Laura Birek: Fuck carrots.
Shanna Micko: They are so boring. I don’t know if there’s something in carrots that my body really, really wanted.
Laura Birek: Huh! Well, supposedly people who eat carrots, it has a bit of carotene in it, which gives you like a little bit of an orange glow to your skin, especially if you’re very fair skinned like we both are.
Shanna Micko: Oh, I need all the help I can get in that department. I’m pale as a ghost.
Laura Birek: Apparently, it makes you more attractive. There’s studies that say people who eat more carrots and vegetables and stuff are fair because it adds a glow to your skin. So you’re just going to look so sexy.
Shanna Micko: Oh my God, heck yeah. I got that carrot glow, baby. What about you? BFP or BFN this week?
Laura Birek: I’m with you with a BFP this week.
Shanna Micko: Cool.
Laura Birek: Which is that I started prenatal yoga.
Shanna Micko: Yay!
Laura Birek: I went back to Pilates.
Shanna Micko: Look at you. You’ve got like an actual, healthy person glow.
Laura Birek: Well, as you know, I’ve been doing Pilates for years and not hardcore. I think I’ve been going about once a week, maybe twice a week, but I just love reformer Pilates. That’s where you get on that machine, they call it a reformer machine.
Shanna Micko: That is so fun.
Laura Birek: It has all the pulleys and the springs and it’s kind of like going to circus class and exercising and I discovered it years ago when I had class pass, which was this subscription service where you could go to like as many classes as you want. They were pretty inexpensive. It’s kind of like movie pass, which is now dying and class pass also got way more expensive because they realized it was too good to be true. But I totally took advantage when it was too good to be true. It was $99 a month to go to unlimited fitness classes.
Shanna Micko: Oh, I remember my one short-lived month in that program. It was dreamy.
Laura Birek: You know reformer Pilates classes are like minimum $25 a pop, usually more. So it was a great deal and I got addicted to it and so now I don’t go as often as I did then. But I discover when I moved to my new house, there’s a place right down the street and they have group classes for $25 a class and a figure for me for $100 a month, I can afford it. It makes me feel good and strong and I love it, but I couldn’t go for about six weeks because of my nausea and my fatigue. I couldn’t imagine doing anything physically strenuous let alone Pilates. I kept putting off my teacher. It’s a very small class. It’s like three or four people and my teacher texts the day before class everyone like, “Who’s in for class?” I kept having to put off and just be like, “I’m not feeling well.” So I finally just texted her and was like, “Look, I’m pregnant. I’ll let you know when I’m ready to come back.” She was really sweet about it.
Shanna Micko: That’s good.
Laura Birek: Now, coming back and that was fun. Then I also discovered walking distance from my house is a yoga studio that has prenatal classes, like five times a week.
Shanna Micko: Whoa! That’s awesome.
Laura Birek: It’s awesome and so I went to my first prenatal yoga class and I like Pilates much better than yoga in general, all kinds of reasons. But one of them is that Pilates is easier on my wrists and I have really messed up wrists from being a knitter and typing on a computer all the time. But the nice thing about prenatal yoga is so low impact and so easy. It’s like an hour and 15 minutes of gentle stretching and chilling out. They start the class with like five minutes of deep relaxation and end it with another like five minutes of deep relaxation.
Shanna Micko: It’s so great.
Laura Birek: It’s like exercising quotes, but legitimate rest time. It’s pretty awesome.
Shanna Micko: Although I will admit, I went to one a couple weeks ago and I’m just so out of shape with working full-time and not having time to take care of myself that the next day after prenatal yoga, my entire body was sore.
Laura Birek: Oh, no.
Shanna Micko: I’m just like, Shanna, you need to get in shape. But you’re more in shape than me. So I’m sure it just was a nice gentle stretch for you.
Laura Birek: They were definitely. She did a little bit of strength building, but I have to say I’m really impressed with Pilate’s ability to sort of maintain muscle tone. You don’t need to do it a whole lot. I do about once a week, but I do it consistently and I’m like pretty proud of how strong my body is.
Shanna Micko: That’s great.
Laura Birek: I don’t think I look it. Even before pregnancy, I just look like you’re slightly above average weight white girl. But my arms are strong and I love that and hopefully, it’ll be a big help when baby comes, because you need upper body strength.
Shanna Micko: Oh, yeah. Definitely. That’s like the only exercise I get is picking up my 30 pound kid.
Laura Birek: Just start doing squats with her until then. But anyway, that’s it? I think that’s it for this week.
Shanna Micko: I think it is. Cool. Well, thanks for checking in, Laura. It was good to talk to you.
Laura Birek: It’s awesome talking to you too, Shanna. Let’s do it again next week.
Shanna Micko: All right. Thank you listeners for tuning in. Be sure to subscribe and rate and review us and let us know what your BFPs and BFNs are for the week or if you learned anything interesting, weird or bizarre about pregnancy. You can find us on social media. Laura, where can they find us?
Laura Birek: We have a website, bigfatpositivepodcast.com. We’re also on Twitter and Instagram at BFP Podcast and then we’ve got a Facebook community. Just look for Big Fat Positive Podcast and join in.
Shanna Micko: Big Fat Positive is produced by Shanna Micko, Laura Birek and Steve Yager.
Laura Birek: Thanks for listening everyone.
Shanna Micko: Bye.
Laura Birek: Bye-bye.