In pregnancy, they rate medications on an alphabet scale. Category "A" is considered totally safe for women to take during pregnancy. This category involves mostly vitamins. Category "B" drugs are considered generally safe. These drugs have been tested and are not shown to have adverse effects in humans or animals. Tylenol, for example, is a Category B. It goes all the way down to a Category "D", which is the stuff you just don't touch. These are medications that have been tested and are considered harmful during pregnancy.
The thing is, I understand the Category B and D things. But there is this other category, Category "C". That's the tricky stuff. Those are the things that are sometimes considered safe in pregnancy, sometimes not. Generally they include drugs that haven't been adequately tested on humans and should only be used if the potential benefits outweight the potential risks. For example, I used Zofran (a Category C anti-nausea drug) during my pregnancies, because my doctor felt that the risk of taking the Zofran was less than the risk of dehydration from my severe morning sickness.
I don't like Cateogry C. I don't understand Category C. Category C is secretive and sneaky and not black and white. It's gray, and I don't like gray.
In the last 8.5 years I have come to realize that much of motherhood falls into the Category C. There are so many things that are in that gray area. They might be good, they might be bad, they might be worth it if the benefits outweight the potential risks. It's a big huge pot of uncertainty. Uncertainty and I don't really get along well.
Some things fall very easily into a nice, safe category. Giving your child hugs, Category A. Beating your child with a stick, Category D. Letting your child cry himself to sleep? Well, that's a Category C. Some say it's fine. Some say it isn't. The real question is, does the benefit outweigh the risk? For me, it's safer to let my kids cry for a few nights than to wreck the car on the way to soccer practice because I am totally sleep deprived. Lot's of things are Category C in parenting. Here are a few that I have tried:
Crying it out for sleep training
Not washing hands before eating dinner
Using a binky up to age 4
Having a bottle in bed
Eating ice cream/cookies/cupcakes for breakfast
Giving solids before 4 months of age
Giving my kids Benedryl on roadtrips
Skipping school for no good reason
Watching television ALL day long for an extended period of time
Not doing pre-school
The list goes on and on...but those are a few. My point is that a lot of things fall into that Category C. Maybe they are ok, maybe not. I think as mothers we need to do the best we can, forgive ourselves if we screw up once in a while and support each other along the way.
I know I'm biased, but I'd say that even with all the Category C activities we have participated in, they sure don't seem any worse for the wear. :)