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controlling women during pregnancy

(212 Posts)
Rollon2012 Sun 16-Oct-11 13:35:05

I've heard a few comments over the years about the hole teetotal during pregnancy thing is not about healthy babies but used to control women.

I wondered straight away , do feminists share this view?
im on the fence generally , although I went cold turkey smoking wise (threw my fags in the bin on the way out of the surgery after getting results) never smoked since and didn't drink at all.

Or is it an excuse the pg women who dont have the willpower to abstain for drinking for 9 months to make themselves feel better??

just wondering what your views on this, (I appreciate it may be a sensitive subject)

GrumpyInRepose Sun 16-Oct-11 13:39:48

I don't think it's to control women per se, but I think it's a nice side effect for a lot of people.
A pregnant woman is not an incubator on legs, she is not obliged to sacrifice all for the sake of the foetus, she can still do her own risk assessment, is the feminist position - I think.

BedatHogwarts Sun 16-Oct-11 13:49:27

I think it's difficult to apply feminist thinking to pregnancy because men will never be pregnant, so you can't envisage how they might be treated or advised in the situation. It's the one part of life where there is no prospect of true equality.

I see it as a responsibility issue. As a pregnant woman I am, for 9 months, completely responsible for another, vulnerable, human being's wellbeing. Far more responsible, in fact, than for a baby or child. Luckily I don't smoke and I'm not that bothered about alcohol, coffee, stinky cheese, liver, swordfish etc, so it's been easy for me to stick to the guidelines. For those who struggle, I'm not sure. I can't see the benefit to society of using alcohol as a means of controlling women though - what would that achieve?

thefirstMrsDeVeerie Sun 16-Oct-11 13:54:06

I dont post of the feminist boards really although I consider myself a feminist. Not sure if its my opinion you want.

When I was pg with DD and DS1 I was younger and accepted everything I was told, was treated like livestock and found it all very disempowering.

I think women are infantalised when they become pregnant.

I have had two babies in my 40s and it was very different. Not because its got better but because I refused to be dictated to and treated like a child.

I think it has got worse. There is so much more information being thrown at women and you cant get away from it. You are seen as a vessel and the attention you are given is similar to that given to a delicate child.

I hate it.

You are exepected to be uber responsible but at the same time seem to be treated like someone who is incapable of making informed decisions.

Trills Sun 16-Oct-11 13:55:10

It's hard to apply logical thinking to "health in pregnancy" issues because of course we can't experiment on pregnant women. We can compare women who do and don't eat/drink/smoke certain things, but there are so many confounding factors that it is very hard to say what the actual risks are.

I think that when the advice was "no alcohol at all" it was not so much about controlling women as about not trusting them to understand "don't drink very much at once, and don't do it too often".

Maisiethemorningsidecat Sun 16-Oct-11 13:56:53

As an adult, I equip myself with knowledge from the information that is made available to me, and make my own decisions.

I choose not to blame anyone else for those decisions, or the outcome of those decisions.

STIDW Sun 16-Oct-11 15:19:22

I think it is a matter of common sense rather than control. There might be some debate about the estimated numbers but I don't understand why anyone would want to smoke or drink alcohol during pregnancy. There are higher risks of miscarrying/stillbirths and developmental problems associated with both. No "safe" amount of consumption of alcohol has been established, one drink often leads to another and there is a risk of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. That is particularly true when alcohol is drunk in the first three months of pregnancy, large quantities are consumed or when there is binge drinking. Isn't it in the interests of everyone for children to have the best possible start to life?

EggyAllenPoe Sun 16-Oct-11 15:34:24

i totally agree that there is a 'silly little woman, we have to control her for the benefit of her child who is the father's possession' undertone to it all.

of course women don't want to harm their unborn children. on the other hand there is so much shit involved - people not letting you do anything, getting concerned if you do even your normal level of activity - guilt-tripping you for the smallest sip of alchohol....i really think this goes well beyond a natural concern for a woman and her baby...especially where it comes to (usually male) HCPs pronouncing on what pregnant women should/ shouldn't do. (although women do this to, women are not exempt from perpetuating mysogyny)

when i, as a 3o-something woman with a totally normal pregnancy got dictated to as in terms such as 'we will book you for induction' and 'you'll have a sweep on friday' it comes clear - people suddenly see you as incapable of decision making and rational thought. (in this case midwives)

where the mysognist undertones become clearer is in countries where you get 'miscarraige made illegal' laws (FFS) and it is illegal to serve an obviously pregnant woman in a bar.

EggyAllenPoe Sun 16-Oct-11 15:40:35

actually STIDW you may need to check you facts...a survey of some 400000 women found no negative effects resulting from moderate alchohol consumption, and indeed 1 binge in early pregnancy also had no effect (good news for those who POAS late in pg and didn't know)

the 'no safe limit' could be true of anything. there is no safe limit to the amount of water you can consume....

GrumpyInRepose Sun 16-Oct-11 15:40:51

STIDW there's no safe amount of carrot consumption either. I drank v little when pregnant, I weighed up the risks myself, on the grounds that I'm an adult with sense, and don't need anyone wagging their finger at me and saying they didn't trust me to stop after one glass of stout. I know the difference between one unit and one binging session - most of us do and don't need infantilising absolutes.
I'm not saying I was correct and everyone else is wrong. Just, I made my own (sensible, moderate) decision based on evidence rather than simply doing what I was told.

alexpolismum Sun 16-Oct-11 15:42:39

EAP - where is it actually illegal to serve a pregnant woman in a bar?

I got annoyed with HCPs asking me if I was sure when I stated that I was teetotal during pregnancy. Am I sure? Perhaps I've just forgotten that I'm actually an alcoholic. On another note, though, nobody told me not to eat certain cheeses or anything like that. The only thing the doctor said was to make sure that liver was cooked all the way through and I wasn't eating it rare!

Trills Sun 16-Oct-11 15:48:09

Regarding drinking in very very early pregnancy:

It takes about 14 days for the fertilized egg to implant

If you ovulate at a roughly average time, any time before your period is due the embryo/foetus/baby/whatever you want to call it is not yet attached. It's not interacting with your blood at all.

So if you got pregnant on Christmas Day, got extremely drunk on NYE, and then your period was due on 8th January, you POAS and thought "oh no, I was pregnant when I got really drunk" it doesn't matter.

LeninGrad Sun 16-Oct-11 15:48:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LeninGrad Sun 16-Oct-11 15:54:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

EggyAllenPoe Sun 16-Oct-11 15:59:01

i thought it was illegal in the states....

however i googled it and it appears it is merely very hard to get served in the states, the law skirts around it in various ways...

jaggythistle Sun 16-Oct-11 16:28:01

I think the 'don't drink anything' reccommendation is simply to try and persuade people who would think nothing of drinking loads/carrying on as normal to cut down or stop. I think it's more about trying to get through to get through to don't care/understand.

Not saying it's a good idea or will actually work, it's done in a similar way to many other things - appeal to the people at the worst end of the spectrum and hope that others will see sense themselves. <fails to think of another example>

Probably just ends up annoying everyone.

I cba drinking when pg, one glass seems a bit pointless, so I think i will just wait till this one emerges too.

jaggythistle Sun 16-Oct-11 16:32:00

I also don't get bossed about much while pg by HCP, I am offered things but I haven't been told I 'have' to do anything. Does it depend where you live?

For example I have been offered a consultant appointment in late pregnancy because I had an unplanned CS last time. Also I have been offered sweeps towards the end of pg, as induction is not advisable after a CS. I don't feel like I've been hassled or pushed in any direction. The hospital I go to is quite pro VBAC I think, so maybe I'd have felf different if I was desperate for a CS!

Birdsgottafly Sun 16-Oct-11 16:36:38

The last peice of research that i read stated that around 30 babies are born stillborn in the UK because of Listeria poisoning, considering that some of them would have been female, it isn't only a feminist issue and can never be, because another human being is involved in pregnancy.
This would pose the question of which is more important, a pregnant woman's wants or the life of her female child (taking males out of the equation for this one). I don't think that there is an easy answer.

It cannot be looked at like other issues because in the UK we don't allow men to put children in danger, anymore. We don't allow neglect of children, so why unsafe behaviour during pregnancy?

Tbh i haven't answered this for myself, these are just the thoughts in my office that we have, as we see so many babies and children pernamently disabled by bad parenting, before and after birth.

MJlovesscareypants Sun 16-Oct-11 16:38:28

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MJlovesscareypants Sun 16-Oct-11 16:43:21

Message withdrawn

Birdsgottafly Sun 16-Oct-11 16:49:08

Pregnant women are trusted, though, they cannot be charged or imprisoned for bad behaviour during pregnancy. The guidelines are there, some people need them, there are women who don't have access to the internet or the inclination to use it, what is wrong with he guidelines being put in the pack given at anti-natal (or whatever it's called) appointments?

If research is found, should it not be shared? Should research not be carried out because pregnancy only happens to women?

MJlovesscareypants Sun 16-Oct-11 16:51:26

Message withdrawn

SolidGoldVampireBat Sun 16-Oct-11 16:54:21

It's entirely about controlling women, because 'you are incubators' has always been the way to control women. Every right and freedom women have fought for has been initially refused because it might damage women's potential as breeding stock (it used to be claimed that teaching women to read would make their wombs shrivel up).

MsAnnTeak Sun 16-Oct-11 16:55:29

STIDW, just playing Devil's Advocate here and to quote you "There are higher risks of miscarrying/stillbirths and developmental problems associated with both." Are there also many studies which state if you leave having children until you are older that there will also be a far higher risk of disability, stillbirths, miscarriage, problems conceiving etc ? Choosing to have a career and delay a family is a choice.

EggyAllenPoe Sun 16-Oct-11 16:55:31

i'm fine with research, and recommendations based on research too.

what is rather different is recommendations that go far beyond research, disregard the rights of women, and the 'you will do as we say' approach in maternity care does not produce any better results..quite the opposite...

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