Being a women, being a pregnant woman, being a pregnant mother are all areas of life that are fraught with judgement, difficulties and a fight for our rights.
The right to have the same education opportunities as the boys. The right to be able to go to university. The right to vote. The right to decide what to do with our bodies. The right to get promoted. The right to equal pay. These are essentially equality and fairness issues…
But what about when you are pregnant and you have another person to think of?
Naturally we take guidance in what we should and shouldn’t eat and drink. We know we should still exercise a bit, that it is actually good for the baby and for us when in labour (but lets be honest who actually feels like running when your boobs are on fire, you might pee a little and you don’t want to throw up!). We know all about the effects on any pain relief during labour (and god know those of us who have terrible migraines look forward to the day we can get a dose of real drugs and not pathetic paracetamol to tackle the blinding curse).
We also get told about ‘no alcohol’ in pregnancy or when breastfeeding. Now, I understand that FAS is a very real and sad effect of excessive drinking when pregnant, but also, it is freely admitted that as we can not test the true affects of drinking on a pregnancy we don’t actually know if there is a safe limit.
I was annoyed when someone commented that ‘You drink when you are pregnant, so you not drinking is not a sign that you are pregnant.’, when I joked I was so poorly over Christmas that I wasn’t drinking, but no I wasn’t pregnant. Firstly – no, I do not drink when I am pregnant. this implies to me that I am getting drunk or having a bottle or more of wine a week or something. I don’t even do that when I am not pregnant!
However, I am in the camp that over the course of nine months pregnancy two or three glasses of wine or a pint or two of cider is not going to do any harm. So yes, I have indulged over my pregnancies in a glass here and a glass there. Same for when I was feeding – I had some drinks, never fed the babies when I had been drinking (good ol’ pump and dump) and certainly always made sure that I was not insensible when with them. But a glass of wine in the beer garden in summer, with a gurgling baby in the pram is something of a treat for some of us.
So the judgement in that comment irked me. Since when did women lose their rights to make a simple decision about their body? If women can chose to terminate the pregnancy, surely they are allowed to chose to toast it with a small ‘cheeky’ glass of bubbles? I think that most women have some degree of common sense and surely know that a casual glass here or there does not impede their judgement, nor mean that they wish their baby any harm. But that it is a reflection that they are not crazy drinkers going out and partying hard, but actually having a ‘treat’.
If we were to judge or criminalise drinking when pregnant and feeding, then it would be nigh on impossible to police, and that it states that a women, once pregnant, is no longer capable of making informed choices, within sensible limits. Where do we then draw the line? Do we monitor all food intake, to make sure that nothing on the banned list is eaten (which, by the way, varies from country to country)? Do we watch caffeine intake and treat those who have their one cup or tea of coffee a day as if they were having a glass of wine? We already monitor the mother’s weight, which isn’t a bad thing perhaps in the age of large babies and obesity, but that is then used to aid the birth plan and how to return to some normality afterwards.
It was interesting reading this news story from 2014 – Is being drunk in charge or a baby a crime? as (despite what the title implies), it raises the issues that I have just questioned. Just as we help mothers to quit smoking, (as that is a proven fact to any person, pregnant or not that that particular habit is a killer), perhaps we should be more supportive of those mothers struggling to give up excessive drinking rather than judging those who choose a glass once or twice during their nine months minimum term?
Or am I alone in thinking that a little common sense is needed, less judgement is needed from others and perhaps leave the mum-to-be to it? Let me know what you guys think!