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Can the Pregnancy Police please piss off

Where is it written that as soon as you start to breed you become public property?

Where is it written that as soon as you see the two lines on the pregnancy test that your brain stops functioning and you can’t make a rational decision?

Where is it written that you aren’t allowed to do your own research, evaluate the evidence and come up with your own decision?

The Pregnancy Police seem to be getting out of control.

Not content with putting little signs saying pregnant women shouldn’t drink wine on wine bottles, they are now everywhere, suggesting you only drink decaff coffee, forbidding you from eating cheese and micro managing every decision and action you take.

Yet most of the diktats the Pregnancy Police profer are based on anecdote rather than evidence.

They haven’t been helped by Government messaging which seems to assume that we should all be treated like the lowest common denominator.

Yes, I know there are vulnerable, uninformed, or misinformed mothers who may inadvertently or deliberately make decisions that adversely effect the health and development of their unborn child*, but in reality the bulk of pregnant mothers have only their unborn child’s best interests at heart.

I’ve met mothers who have deliberately tried to ensure they have a small baby. I met them in the waiting room whlist waiting to see our consultant. They had IUGR because they were smoking, still smoking a lot, enough to have to nip out for a couple of cigarette breaks in an hour’s wait – they had chosen to do this because they had heard that it makes your baby smaller and that makes childbirth easier. Yes it does make your baby smaller but at some potential cost to the baby. But they didn’t know that and even the messages on the sides of cigarette packets hadn’t stopped them doing it. Where were the Pregnancy Police when they were needed?

Ok so smoking in pregnancy is generally accepted to be a Bad Thing, but have you been and actually looked at the evidence around drinking alcohol or caffeine or eating cheese?

Or do you just know that these are forbidden?

Because the actual evidence tells a slightly different story.

You see it is generally accepted that very heavy drinking, let’s say a bottle of vodka a day, is bad for your baby. Come to think of it, its not a great thing for a non-pregnant person. And medical science is fairly clear that drinking a bottle of vodka a day will have a negative impact on your baby. What they are less clear on is what is the safe lower limit. There is evidence that a glass or wine or two is fine. In fact can have benefits if it relaxes an otherwise stressed out mother*. The trouble is that the Government don’t believe that we are intelligent enough to work out that a bottle of vodka is BAD and that the odd drink is Ok and that you just need to be sensible and not get falling down drunk.

Let me admit the inadmissible – I drank whilst pregnant. I tended to have a glass of wine with dinner, or a cider in the bath, or a glass of champagne. And I had spoken with my midwife after reading around the research and we agreed that a bottle of vodka a day was BAD but if I was sensible it would be ok.

I also drank coffee. Not as much as before I got pregnant but I still had at least a cup a day. In fact when I had hyperemesis, my consultant told me to drink more because it would help. Yes, medical science told me to drink this Ms Serving Person in Starbucks so eff off.

And cheese. Again go and have a look at the research and you’ll find that yes there can be risks if you’re planning on eating something incredibly ripe, unpasteurised with a dodgy provenance. But if its UK produced, and has been stored properly you are ok. And when you dig into it the incidence of cheese related food poisoning is minute in the general population each year, let alone in the pregnant population.

So Pregnancy Police please piss off and go and help those who need you to educate and guide them but please remember that the majority of pregnant women are not brain dead but in fact able to made informed decisions. Oh and despite being pregnant it is still our body and not a piece of public property.

*You do know that stress has one of the biggest adverse impacts for an unborn child? Thought not.

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20 comments to Can the Pregnancy Police please piss off

  • I definitely don’t recommend your hubby has a quadruple bypass while you are pregnant :( so I agree on the stress thing.
    I do feel however, that we should do everything reasonable to give a baby the best chance. By reasonable I mean we shouldn’t jump on every trend but use common sense on things that we know damage us and therefore are even more likely to damage a baby. Erm, you’re not pregnant are you?

  • I wish I was given more information about why something is bad. For example they say not to have uncooked eggs and pate by why? Who is at risk? Is it me or just the baby? Can the baby get ill from something without me knowing about it? I have the occasional drink but I hardly miss drinking at all to be honest. But those foods I am not allowed well they are the ones that flummox me!

    • Muddling Along

      I totally agree – the blanket ‘you are not allowed’ assumes the worst and doesn’t take into account the varying levels of risk but yet manages to not highlight some others, e.g. pre-made sandwiches.

      If we just had the arguments for and against we could make an informed decision that works for us – instead you get people not eating eggs for 9 months rather than just eating well cooked eggs or eggs from a known source with good food hygiene in place

  • I think that the information that is given needs to be clearer and that there are people who need more information and help. I am wise enough and obstanant enough to not care

    • Muddling Along

      Same here – I also don’t do well with being told ‘you mustn’t’ but not being told why so tend to then go off and read the information behind, often discovering that the blanket ban is just easier for people than to articulate the varying degrees of grey

  • HEAR bloody HEAR! YES!!! OMG YES!!!

    I drank tea and coke, ate cheese (not the unpasteurised stuff from between monks’ toes) and had the odd glass of wine (only way to get through our family parties – one glass is needed to take the edge off). I even ate some raw meat and fish, from very reputable sources. My babies are healthy, tall geniuses. So there.

    We had a girl at the school gates who was five months pregnant, smoking a cigarette while she told me her first baby was born three months early. That I found offensive. Me eating a bit of cheese I did not.

    Hear hear!!!

  • Tamara

    In New Zealand the Ministry of Health publishes a handy booklet setting out what food is safe during pregnancy and what is problematic and the reasons why. It is very well put together and easy to understand. I followed that and ignored anyting else.
    Re alcohol, government takes the easy road and recommends none but I had no problem with the odd drink. If anyone had a problem with it they were too polite to say so!

  • here *cking here.
    YOu have touched upon a subject that Milk finds particularly frustrating.
    Particularly those insulting preggers symbols on vino.
    http://marketingtomilk.wordpress.com/2010/03/18/alcoholic-mother-in-training/
    As far as i know these things are advisory, and not law, so *ck off with the labels on things. Education – fine. bullying – not fine. We are not objects. WE still have feelings and needs when pregnant. When a man goes through pregnancy and stops drinking/eating cheese/pate/shellfish/swearing/enjoying sex, then maybe i’ll feel i should and could learn a lesson or two from him.

    M2Mx
    (btw i’m so not normally a feminist, but this is patriarchy at its worse)

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  • Somehow I missed this one, but well said lady! When I was preggers I had exactly the same conversation with my specialist who had actually done a thesis on drinking and foetal alcohol syndrome so she knew a thing or two. Admittedly I had a few glasses to toast my husband’s 30th and the milennium. What used to really piss me off was when people asked whether I should be eating oysters or cheese ‘in my condition’. On top of which the whole ‘do you really think you should take these’ in response to my taking the pills to dry up my milk as breastfeeding had been indicated as part of post natal depression twice previously. I’m usually such a nice person but I think I told that nurse to F off.

    • Muddling Along

      Its that public property thing that makes me most cross – its still my body and my choice so please leave off with telling what I must do

  • I also missed this first time around. I had my first drop of alcohol in 21 weeks last night, may somebody strike me down immediately! But it was Pimms which is so rare around these parts I fancied myself a small, very diluted glass of… If I fancy another drink over the next 19 weeks I shall bloody well have one.

    The point you make over cheese is a good one and one that is very dear to my heart (as those who know me will testify). Most soft cheeses are pasterised and you’re as likely to get listeria from a pack of salad (or a wrongly accused Spanish cucumber) as you are a slice of brie. Likewise with eggs.

    The general advice over food and drink here is slightly different than in the UK. They do advocate NO alcohol at all, but bizarrely say bugger all about caffeine, which given the ammount and strength of the coffee drank over here is probably a good thing. I can’t see many Spanish ladies giving it up for 9 months.

    The only thing I’ve been told NOT to eat is undercooked meat (with emphasis on serrano ham and chorizo), because I am not immune to toxoplasmosis. No mention of liver, paté, soft cheeses, undercooked egg yolks and all the other usual suspects.

    Interestingly though, no-one says bugger all about diet products containing aspartame, GMO foods, all the various chemicals that are put in our everyday food that do untold things to us and our children. No they’re all fine, it’s that goat’s cheese that’ll getcha!

    It would be interesting to find out numbers of exactly how many pregnancies are affected by these foods, I suspect very few.

    • Muddling Along

      I considered getting tested for immunity to toxoplasmosis given my love of cheese and pate but never got around to it – stats seem to suggest that incidence is incredibly rare, can’t seem to find the report but if I do I’ll email it over to you

  • Rachael

    During pregnancy 1, a restaurant waitress removed the empty wine glass from in front of me without saying a word. Before we’d ordered drinks. She left my husband’s glass well alone. We left and went elsewhere.

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    […] one very much makes a point Pippa! Hannah from Muddling Along Mummy is sharing Can the Pregnancy Police Please Piss Off.  A beautifully crafted piece of rhetoric about the way society increasingly polices the […]

  • […] Or perhaps this is another attempt to force women to embrace nature during their pregnancy by making wearing make up the new consumption of alcohol? And let us remember exactly how badly put together the advice in relation to alcohol consumption is […]

  • Thanks, Janet. We were just talking about how so much of me chagned in that pregnancy. Superficially my hair went bone straight when I was pregnant with her now its curly again. Weird, eh

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