Thursday, 24 June 2010

Pregnancy and medical advice

It is hayfever season. We're having a dry spell in Scotland, which makes things rather unbearable. When trailing through pregnancy forums, you wouldn't believe the number of pregnant women complaining about how they aren't allowed to take antihistamines and how badly they are suffering as a consequence.

For some while now, I've been adding my threepence worth of opinion but I'm alone. Ask any GP, pharmacist or midwife and you will be advised against taking any antihistamines. The same goes for nasal sprays, cough medicine, and of course alcohol. With all of these, if you bother to do some research, there is no proven risk to the fetus.

I say this again: there is no proven risk to the fetus if you take certain antihistamines (there are exceptions; but many antihistamines fall into this category), drink alcohol without getting drunk or use nasal sprays.

Yet pregnant women are strongly advised not to take the risk. A risk that hasn't been quantified. A risk that hasn't been investigated because nobody wants to do any research on the unborn life. A risk that may not exist.

And we, the pregnant women of the western world, are happy to follow this medical advise and suffer.

It is not something I take lightly - I've suffered from hayfever since I was 12, and asthma from 27. Thankfully, Scottish flora is kind on me and I only have to suffer a few months, but those months are tough. I can't go out without instant unbearable itching and sneezing. If I didn't take antihistamines, I'd be confined to my home, unable to do anything outdoors. Anything. And then someone tells me that there is an unproven risk to my baby if I take antihistamine for a couple of months and yes, I'd better stay indoors all that time.

Well, you know what? I've chosen to take antihistamines in both my pregnancies. As I've taken nasal spray for some of my now 7 head and chest colds since I had the bfp. When I was told off by my midwife for drinking 1 unit of alcohol a week, I giggled in disbelief (but kept my mouth shut). My pregancy notes actually state that I have been advise to give up drinking. WTF! I'm not drinking. I have a half glass of wine ONCE A WEEK. There's more alcohol in ripe fruit.

Somehow society is going out of its way to tell pregnant women about risks to their babies and their responsibility to eliminate any possible risk, regardless of the reality of the risk or quality of life to the pregnant woman. While real risks are entirely ignored. While listening to Women's Hour it was made more than crystal clear: misuse of alcohol does result in fetal death. Not because the pregnant woman drinks, but because of alcohol triggering violent behaviour towards a pregnant woman: "more fetuses are lost due to male violence against pregnant women". And those statistics are proven. Alcohol consumption in some people leads to violence which poses a real risk to those near to them, including the unborn child. As for fetal alcohol syndrome - in spite of the very restrictive medical advice and women reducing their alcohol intake significantly, the incident of FAS has remained the same over the years. Which indicates that it's only those pregnant women who have an addiction to alcohol (and thus won't/can't stop) who actually harm their baby.

There is no advice given to fathers who have violent tendencies that they shouldn't drink while their partner is pregnant because this could lead to harm to the baby. Instead, it's the women who are restricted in their diet, medicine and alcohol intake to such degrees that it's laughable. All the while being made guilty for every drop of alcohol consumed, for every remedy taken. The pregnant woman has become the property of society in a misguided attempt to protect the unborn life, while society is happy to ignore the real dangers to the unborn and born child.

I'll be off to have a glass a wine then.



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