Like every other woman I know, when I was pregnant I was subject to all sorts of instructions, from all sorts of people, about what I should and shouldn’t do. Top of the list was not drinking alcohol. Then there was not drinking coffee, and making sure that I put on enough weight, but of course not too much weight. On it and on went. I was infantalised, and control was taken away from me.
I especially resented the advice about alcohol. The pregnancy police took “We don’t what level of alcohol is safe during pregnancy” and turned it into, “Therefore, pregnant women must never ever touch the demon drink” despite clear evidence that one or two alcoholic drinks a week don’t harm the fetus. Here’s a classic of the genre:
However, a spokesman for the Department of Health said that its advice would remain unchanged.
“We are continually taking account of evidence and welcome this further report.
“However, the research does not lead to any change in the current UK wide advice that pregnant women and those trying to conceive should, as a precautionary measure, avoid alcohol.”
Additional advice from the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence urges women to avoid alcohol, particularly in the first three months of pregnancy. (Source)
But here’s an article from economist Emily Oster, who spent quite a bit of time digging through research papers when she was pregnant.
Her concluding paragraph nails it:
Pregnant women are clamoring for better information about everything from exercise to hair dye to bed rest and delivery. They don’t want categorical limits based on fuzzy science and half-baked research. They want to assess risks for themselves and make their own best decisions.
Just so. Stop with the infantalising and policing and controlling women, and trust us to make our own decisions.