What to expect when you’re expecting

There’s a new book out about pregnancy advice. Just what we need, I hear you say. The book was written by a woman who, when pregnant, found the advice was insane, old fashioned and contradictory. Just like I did, but she researched and wrote a book about it, I just blogged.

What’s been grabbing the headlines is the drinking advice. Every month or so (I may be exaggerating) a new study comes out to tell you that drinking is ok/ much worse than previously thought / ok *delete as appropriate while pregnant. The book reviews that I’ve read have all mentioned that she points out that the occasional drink won’t harm the baby, that it’s all overt fuss by health professionals wanting to dictate to women about that they think. Women should do what they want and have a drink if they want to.

The problem with this is that women who do then abstain from drinking feel like they’re being made fun of, for being overly protective of their unborn foetus. Or I think so anyway. I remember telling people that I wasn’t drinking and they all, every single one I told, said “It’s ok to have one, you know,” like they were doing me a favour in springing me from the non-alcoholic trap I’d set myself.

I actually didn’t want to drink. I went off alcohol in the same way that I went off caffeine. It wasn’t a hardship not drinking. And the first drink I did have after E was born (when I was breastfeeding and therefore shouldn’t drink either) was easily the best drink I’ve ever had, partly because of the long absence. But I definitely didn’t need the advice.

The thing is, when you’re pregnant, everyone will give you advice. The best thing is to ignore it and do what you want. In this way, I do agree with the premise of the book. Because even if you do try and do everything right, there’s always something you miss. (For me it was smoked meats. No one told me till I’d eaten loads of chorizo that you shouldn’t have it while pregnant. And whaddya know, E is fine.) nevertheless, we really don’t need to make it worse for people by pointing out what they’re doing might be following old fashioned advice or just advice that we don’t think we could follow ourselves.

Since drinking is a big part of British culture I guess this is why the alcohol advice makes the headlines so often. But here’s some ‘shock’ news: you’ll have to make some lifestyle changes when the baby is born! Who knew. So why not start early if you want?

I think the book was written to try and help women. But I think the best thing we can do for pregnant women, and all parents, is to stop judging them so readily.

Postscript: Radio 4 are doing it again this morning! “There’s no good evidence that doing exercise during pregnancy is likely to harm your baby,” says Linda Geddes today. Thank GOD for Sali Hughes who is replying: “The pregnant woman has become public property… Everyone feels entitled to a view on what’s inside a woman’s body.” Grrr…

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