Pregnant women are public property

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Catchfire Catchfire's picture
Pregnant women are public property

So, I've ben hanging out with a lot of pregnant ladies lately, and I wanted to start a thread about how as soon as the writ is dropped, so to speak, that woman's belly, eating and drinking habits, and general behaviour falls under the jurisdiction of, well, anyone. Complete strangers come up and ask you questions about your due date and rub your belly uninvited. Then of course, there are the lectures: an acquaintance of mine was questioned at work for drinking a cup of coffee, and then told (by a childless man) "I'm just thinking about the baby." A friend of mine who works at a bistro said that a co-worker of hers refused to serve an alcoholic drink to a pregnant lady because she "didn't feel right about it."

While I'm interested in talking about the vomit-inducing paternalism and judgement pregancy invites (or at least venting about it), I'm also interested in ways we could possibly recuperate and embrace this public-ness: for example, pregnant women are also the recipient of smiles when they walk around in public, which I think is a positive expression of sociality and pregnancy--in the kind of way that the child will be a product of his or her society as well.

Thoughts? Experiences to share? Belly photos?

Issues Pages: 
Aristotleded24

Certainly pregnant women should take care of themselves to the best of their ability considering that there is another human life involved, and all pregnant women should have support available to help them towards this end. On the issue of drinking while pregnant, certainly that is not a good idea. In Manitoba, the Manitoba Liquor Control Comission a few years ago promoted the idea that men should support the pregnant women in their lives by abstaining from alcohol as well.

On the whole asking questions about the due date or feeling a woman's stomach uninvited, I wonder what people are thinking? Much as my 3D social skills are not always optimal, I would never dream of doing that to a pregnant women, not necessarily because of any "feminist" reasons, but out of basic respect for personal boundaries. As for support and solidaritiy? How about actions like holding a door open or offering help to carry the groceries?

Lefauve

Ok speaking of touchy topic that one hit the mark.
First i see two opposing right.

First the right of the women of disposing of her body.

Second the right of the feotus to get the best chance to be a healthy baby after her/
his birth

One thing to consider is a jugement of suprime courts that state. That a feotus is not yet a Human being.
on the other hand the jugement was deliver in case of Abortion were the feotus will never reach Birth.
But in case of drinking alcool or taking drug while being pregnant, should we consider the right of the futur human being?

Delicate question, with no easy answer!

6079_Smith_W

Lefauve wrote:
Ok speaking of touchy topic that one hit the mark. First i see two opposing right. First the right of the women of disposing of her body. Second the right of the feotus to get the best chance to be a healthy baby after her/ his birth One thing to consider is a jugement of suprime courts that state. That a feotus is not yet a Human being. on the other hand the jugement was deliver in case of Abortion were the feotus will never reach Birth. But in case of drinking alcool or taking drug while being pregnant, should we consider the right of the futur human being? Delicate question, with no easy answer!

Indeed. That is to say, the answer is clear, but far from easy.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

If a woman wants to drink coffee, alcohol or laudnum during her pregnancy, that is her decision. If she wants to smoke cigarettes, marijuana or crack, that is her decision. If she wants to eat TV dinners, porterhouse steaks or nothing, that, too, is her decision. Any other way to say it--whether couching it in an ethical dilemma or references to jurisprudence--smacks of judgement, paternalism and sexism. If a pregnant woman comes into your bar and orders a glass of wine, serve her FFS!

Caissa

Well said, Catchfire.

wage zombie

Great thread idea, Catchfire.

Quote:
If a pregnant woman comes into your bar and orders a glass of wine, serve her FFS!

Hopefully some women will post, if they feel inclined.  I just took a look at the Active Topics and I'm didn't see any women listed in the top half. :(

Aristotleded24

Catchfire wrote:
If a woman wants to drink coffee, alcohol or laudnum during her pregnancy, that is her decision. If she wants to smoke cigarettes, marijuana or crack, that is her decision. If she wants to eat TV dinners, porterhouse steaks or nothing, that, too, is her decision. Any other way to say it--whether couching it in an ethical dilemma or references to jurisprudence--smacks of judgement, paternalism and sexism. If a pregnant woman comes into your bar and orders a glass of wine, serve her FFS!

Is it really that simple, especially when there is the potential health of a child involved? I'm not advocating that pregnant women be denied any choices, but how is advising women about the things they need to do to have a healthy pregnancy and give her child the best possible start any different from giving other health advice? If I was in the situation of having a pregnant partner, I would certainly encourage her to take care of herself and to support her wherever she needed, especially since it's not just her health but the health of my child that would be at stake. You'll also note that in my first post to this thread I implied that men should modify their behaviours during their partner's pregnancy (specifically around smoking, drinking, or doing other drugs). How is a pregnant woman supposed to feel if she's told what she can and can't do while pregnant while seeing her friends and her partner engage in that "forbidden" behaviour?

Finally, I would also like to hear from women on this topic, and I find it a bit rich that a man would claim authority to say that something "smacks of judgement, paternalism, and sexism."

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

Aristotleded24 wrote:

Catchfire wrote:
If a woman wants to drink coffee, alcohol or laudnum during her pregnancy, that is her decision. If she wants to smoke cigarettes, marijuana or crack, that is her decision. If she wants to eat TV dinners, porterhouse steaks or nothing, that, too, is her decision. Any other way to say it--whether couching it in an ethical dilemma or references to jurisprudence--smacks of judgement, paternalism and sexism. If a pregnant woman comes into your bar and orders a glass of wine, serve her FFS!

Is it really that simple, especially when there is the potential health of a child involved? I'm not advocating that pregnant women be denied any choices, but how is advising women about the things they need to do to have a healthy pregnancy and give her child the best possible start any different from giving other health advice? If I was in the situation of having a pregnant partner, I would certainly encourage her to take care of herself and to support her wherever she needed, especially since it's not just her health but the health of my child that would be at stake. You'll also note that in my first post to this thread I implied that men should modify their behaviours during their partner's pregnancy (specifically around smoking, drinking, or doing other drugs). How is a pregnant woman supposed to feel if she's told what she can and can't do while pregnant while seeing her friends and her partner engage in that "forbidden" behaviour?

Finally, I would also like to hear from women on this topic, and I find it a bit rich that a man would claim authority to say that something "smacks of judgement, paternalism, and sexism."

I had to walk away from this thread so I wouldn't post in CAPS.

I agree 100% with Catchfire and I'm so glad he stated it. A24, your comments are sentimental at best with all your references to "the baby". It is a fetus until birth and it's up to the individual woman to decide if she even likes having people refer to her pregnant self as "mother and baby". The rest of your concern is patriarchal and condescending. The wee little woman might be led astray if her partner doesn't set up a good example or constantly clamour over her every choice to ensure she's doing what's best for "the baby".

Every woman deals with pregnancy as she chooses. Maybe some women like people, even strangers, fawning all over them - and patting their belly. Most that I have known do not. And many more I know do not appreciate condescending advice or judgemental attitudes. Even-handed advice should be provided by health professionals or anyone a pregnant woman choses to confide in.

What is happening in the US is alarming. The fetus fetishists have taken "concern for the baby" to whole new level of oppression:

Quote:

Rennie Gibbs is accused of murder, but the crime she is alleged to have committed does not sound like an ordinary killing. Yet she faces life in prison in Mississippi over the death of her unborn child.

Gibbs became pregnant aged 15, but lost the baby in December 2006 in a stillbirth when she was 36 weeks into the pregnancy. When prosecutors discovered that she had a cocaine habit – though there is no evidence that drug abuse had anything to do with the baby's death – they charged her with the "depraved-heart murder" of her child, which carries a mandatory life sentence.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/24/america-pregnant-women-murde...

Aristotleded24

laine lowe wrote:
The wee little woman might be led astray if her partner doesn't set up a good example or constantly clamour over her every choice to ensure she's doing what's best for "the baby".

That's not how that post was intended. Most of the messages around pregnancy focus on what the woman is supposed to do, and there is rarely anything directed at friends or partners telling them how to support the pregnant women in their lives. It's not a matter of anyone being "led astray." I'll phrase this another way: if a woman is pregnant and is told what she shouldn't do while pregnant, and her male partner continues to smoke, drink, do drugs, or what have you, does that sound to you like someone who is being a supportive partner?

laine lowe wrote:
Every woman deals with pregnancy as she chooses. Maybe some women like people, even strangers, fawning all over them - and patting their belly. Most that I have known do not.

Read my first post to this thread. I advocated that people keep their hands to themselves.

laine lowe wrote:
And many more I know do not appreciate condescending advice or judgemental attitudes. Even-handed advice should be provided by health professionals or anyone a pregnant woman choses to confide in.

Agreed, and those health services should be readily available.

laine lowe wrote:
The rest of your concern is patriarchal and condescending.

You're not a women, so who are you to speak on their behalf and tell me what is "patriarchal and condescending?"

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Aristotleded24 wrote:
You're not a women, so who are you to speak on their behalf and tell me what is "patriarchal and condescending?"

Er, yes she is, Aristotled.

Can I suggest not taking this personally? It's not whether you are right or wrong, it's about how your words are being interpreted by those whose lived experience you are describing. I can say that my [pregnant] partner reacted to your first post in this thread rather angrily. Again: don't take it personally.

Like wz, I also hope some more women will post in this thread if they get the urge.

 

Aristotleded24

Catchfire wrote:
Aristotleded24 wrote:
You're not a women, so who are you to speak on their behalf and tell me what is "patriarchal and condescending?"

Er, yes she is, Aristotled.

My mistake. Sorry, laine.

Boze

I also hope more women will post in this thread.

Personally I can't imagine serving an obviously pregnant woman an alcoholic beverage.

Lefauve

Let turn the question for a bit.
New questions is: Is there enougth case of alcoolic and toxicomania during pregnancy to launch as side by side prevention programs or a program that aim only people who already suffer from toxicomania and alcoolism
or no prevention at all.

Lefauve

An other question is a child born with handicap because of toxicomania during pregancy is able to pursuit her mother in court for the prejudist that he suffer now!

Lefauve

laine lowe wrote:

Aristotleded24 wrote:

Catchfire wrote:
If a woman wants to drink coffee, alcohol or laudnum during her pregnancy, that is her decision. If she wants to smoke cigarettes, marijuana or crack, that is her decision. If she wants to eat TV dinners, porterhouse steaks or nothing, that, too, is her decision. Any other way to say it--whether couching it in an ethical dilemma or references to jurisprudence--smacks of judgement, paternalism and sexism. If a pregnant woman comes into your bar and orders a glass of wine, serve her FFS!

Is it really that simple, especially when there is the potential health of a child involved? I'm not advocating that pregnant women be denied any choices, but how is advising women about the things they need to do to have a healthy pregnancy and give her child the best possible start any different from giving other health advice? If I was in the situation of having a pregnant partner, I would certainly encourage her to take care of herself and to support her wherever she needed, especially since it's not just her health but the health of my child that would be at stake. You'll also note that in my first post to this thread I implied that men should modify their behaviours during their partner's pregnancy (specifically around smoking, drinking, or doing other drugs). How is a pregnant woman supposed to feel if she's told what she can and can't do while pregnant while seeing her friends and her partner engage in that "forbidden" behaviour?

Finally, I would also like to hear from women on this topic, and I find it a bit rich that a man would claim authority to say that something "smacks of judgement, paternalism, and sexism."

I had to walk away from this thread so I wouldn't post in CAPS.

I agree 100% with Catchfire and I'm so glad he stated it. A24, your comments are sentimental at best with all your references to "the baby". It is a fetus until birth and it's up to the individual woman to decide if she even likes having people refer to her pregnant self as "mother and baby". The rest of your concern is patriarchal and condescending. The wee little woman might be led astray if her partner doesn't set up a good example or constantly clamour over her every choice to ensure she's doing what's best for "the baby".

Every woman deals with pregnancy as she chooses. Maybe some women like people, even strangers, fawning all over them - and patting their belly. Most that I have known do not. And many more I know do not appreciate condescending advice or judgemental attitudes. Even-handed advice should be provided by health professionals or anyone a pregnant woman choses to confide in.

What is happening in the US is alarming. The fetus fetishists have taken "concern for the baby" to whole new level of oppression:

Quote:

Rennie Gibbs is accused of murder, but the crime she is alleged to have committed does not sound like an ordinary killing. Yet she faces life in prison in Mississippi over the death of her unborn child.

Gibbs became pregnant aged 15, but lost the baby in December 2006 in a stillbirth when she was 36 weeks into the pregnancy. When prosecutors discovered that she had a cocaine habit – though there is no evidence that drug abuse had anything to do with the baby's death – they charged her with the "depraved-heart murder" of her child, which carries a mandatory life sentence.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/24/america-pregnant-women-murde...

The case you present is rather extreme, i doute this is representative of reality!

Lefauve

Normaly i'm a pro choix but in this case the fact that unlike abortion the fetus is able to be an human being someday change everything !

Lefauve

Catchfire wrote:

If a woman wants to drink coffee, alcohol or laudnum during her pregnancy, that is her decision. If she wants to smoke cigarettes, marijuana or crack, that is her decision. If she wants to eat TV dinners, porterhouse steaks or nothing, that, too, is her decision. Any other way to say it--whether couching it in an ethical dilemma or references to jurisprudence--smacks of judgement, paternalism and sexism. If a pregnant woman comes into your bar and orders a glass of wine, serve her FFS!

The problem that i got, is there is somebody else who will suffer later. If it where only the women, it will be no prob do what you want. Who get with end result do matter.

Like i said there is no easy answer!
At least if she doesn't want to stop while pregnancy get abortion!

Aristotleded24

Catchfire wrote:
Can I suggest not taking this personally? It's not whether you are right or wrong, it's about how your words are being interpreted by those whose lived experience you are describing. I can say that my [pregnant] partner reacted to your first post in this thread rather angrily. Again: don't take it personally.

I'll try approaching this from a different angle. Health professionals will advise pregnant women to change behaviours such as asking them to stop drinking or smoking while pregnant. So taking this further, would her partner's decision to change his habits or not have any impact on how supported she feels? How does the behaviour of a pregnant woman's partner impact her?

Here's a little miscommunication I hope to clear up:

Catchfire wrote:
Complete strangers come up and ask you questions about your due date and rub your belly uninvited.

I'm baffled that people think it's acceptable to touch the stomach of a pregnant woman. Why do people think that's acceptable? As a child, I was taught to respect personal space and keep my hands to myself. Seems pretty simple, why doesn't anyone get it? (I firmly believe in the "hands to yourself" rule, I hope nothing I said gave a different impression.)

I'd also like to ask, is it generally men or women who tend to feel it acceptable to touch the stomach of a pregnant woman?

Stargazer

I'd like to ask why lafauve gets to spew this anti-woman crap in here.

Maysie Maysie's picture

How did this thread turn into another ridiculous thread about abortion?

And, what Stargazer said.

My thoughts, as a woman who's never-been-pregnant-and-never-will-be, around the "not serving alcohol" crap, is that most women don't "show" for the first 3 months. So it's only because her body is "obviously" pregnant that makes her a fair target to be refused a drink? WhatEVER.

Are people aware that the first trimester is when most of the basic growth and development occurs (GIYF) and is the most sensitive time in terms of "bad" ingestion habits of the eating, drinking and inhaling kind? And that sometimes women don't even know they're pregnant until 6 weeks or more? ie, half of this time period? Let's do the math here.

My dad smoked two packs a day his entire life, including during my non-smoking mother's three pregnancies. Where's the blame and shame towards him and other fathers/partners who do that? Hell, what about pollution in the city (the argument often used by smokers) and its effect on pregnant women, and non-pregnant women and men and children? Don't make me go down the slippery slope, just don't do it! Tongue out

As for the touching bullshit, my off-the-top-of-my-head feminist thoughts on that are a combination of two things. First, sexism. Women are often "touched" by people: co-workers, supervisors, strangers, etc, in non-sexual ways. This is so normalized most of us may not even notice it. Our bodies in general are public bodies, and this perhaps increases during pregnancy.

Then there's the issue of what our bodies look like and how everyone, men and women, has the right to make comments about our bodies (both verbal and not), and pass judgement about our bodies (both verbal and not). Another sexist piece is the "woman as mother" trope, in which the thought is that all women must be mothers to fulfill our biological whatever-the-fuck. 

My second thought is the generic and mainstream fetus-fetish ideas our society has about pregnant women and babies. But only if those women are white and middle class, with their babies presumed to be as well.

Ghislaine

I haven't posted in awhile, I've been mostly lurking, but I thought I would jump into this topic. I have a 14 mo. old, so I have been relatively recently pregnant (and hope to be again relatively soon).

I absolutely hated the unsolicited belly touching! It seemed all the people in my life that I did not mind touching my belly and feeling my baby kick always asked very politely, or would be too shy to ask and I would ask them. But strangers or somewhat acquaintances...they would just put their hands out for a feel. I did speak up a few times, but when you are extra tired and it happens so much you just get sick of always saying this. When I did speak up, the response always tried to make ME feel like I was overreacting. Eventually I found the best response was to ask what they would they think if a stranger just walked up and touched their belly. (and note: depending on how you carry, it is really more like your abdomen which is even more offensive).

Anyways, in terms of telling women what to do when pregnant health-wise, I have a great story. A friend of mine had discussed caffeine with her doctor and he agreed that one coffee every morning was ok. This one co-worker (who was quite obese) always made a comment. So, one day she said "when are you going to start losing weight?"

In terms of restaurants and bars, a woman has a right to be served whatever she orders whether pregnant or not. To use the obese example, you aren't allowed to refuse to serve someone french fries are you? There was an issue in Manitoba we studied in social work school of a pregnant drug addict. She was basically taken in to mental health custody for detox against her will by child welfare authorities. This went all the way to the courts, where the ruling was no such right exists. There is no person/child until the first breath at birth. Based on all the evidence, child welfare authorities can apprehend at that time, and yes the child may be born addicted or have FASD, but there is no right to infring on the woman's rights.

Ghislaine

Here is a [url=http://www.motherisk.org/JFAS_documents/JFAS7001F_e1.pdf] link [/url] referring to the Manitoba case (the only one I could find with a good description):

 

Quote:

 

 

In August of 1997, a pregnant Manitoba

woman was brought to court by the Winnipeg

Family and Child Services on the basis that two

out of her three children suffered brain damage

due to her various addictions (solvent sniffing:

glue, nail polish remover, and paint thinner).

Child services maintained that the twenty-two

year old aboriginal woman should be forced into

therapy, as her drug dependency was harming her

fetus. By the time the courts had made the

decision to pass this onto the Supreme Court, the

baby had already been born. By October of that

same year, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled

that "the courts cannot force a pregnant woman to

undergo treatment to prevent harm to her fetus".

The Court reaffirms that "a fetus does not have

legal rights".2 Essentially, Canadian law dictates a

person has full autonomy over his/her body and

his life, thus including the justification of suicide.

This law is not surprising, because if the

unborn baby was a legal entity, then voluntary

termination of pregnancy would need to be

classified as manslaughter or even murder.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Great post, thanks Ghislaine. And yes, can we please drop the odious abortion talk?

Ghislaine, my partner is pregnant and she had a woman walk up and ask the usual questions: oh, when are you due, etc. When my partner said 36 weeks, the woman responded with a concerned/appraising look: "Hrmmm. Well, you haven't dropped yet..."

The sanitized response of Ms. CF was it's none of your geedee business what my uterus is or isn't doing.

Caissa

Maybe Ms. CF should start babbling. She'd fit right in around here.

Ghislaine

Ha, congratulations to you both Cathfire! Can I offer some unsolicited advised to your partner that a naturopath gave me? Evening primrose oil gelcaps after 38 weeks. Absolutely wonderful results for all of this doctor's clients in a certain area.

E_B_K

I'm a first time babbler so go easy on me! As I am almost 37 weeks pregnant (and CF's partner), this thread hits kinda close to home.

The issue with uninvited comments about what I consume is that the commentator assumes they care and/or know more about the baby inside of me than I do. I might ask someone commenting on my coffee intake how many pregancy books they've read. Have they been moved to tears by the movement of my baby? Do they care what I'll name it or how much protein its had that day? Probably not. I, however, have been dedicating my life for the last 37 weeks to keeping this baby as healthy as possible. I have done all the research I can. I have discussed what I should and should not consume with my midwives. Ultimately, and Catchfire has already said something to this effect, I am the only one who can decide what's best for this baby. And, I would argue, there is no one in the world (with the exception, perhaps of its father) who cares more about its healthy development inside of me. It's in my body and I am responsible. Not anyone else.

Taking it back to CF's original post... what about that tension around not wanting strangers to comment on or touch my body, but enjoying the kind smiles? There is something kind of comforting to know that so many strangers out there feel somewhat protective over my unborn child. Maybe those same strangers will slow their cars down in my neighbourhood when my kids are playing in the yard. I appreciate that urge to protect kids, but still resent their advice on pregnancy. How do you rectify the two?

 

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Well, you're banned.

Glenl

Good call. She she was going to be trouble. Lol.

MegB

Happy happy congrats CF and E_B_K!  I loved having my girls, loved being pregnant, and get all excited for anyone about to become a parent.

That said, I don't miss the uninvited intrusions into my life because I'm visibly pregnant, nor do I miss being treated like a child because I'm expecting one.  When I was pregnant with my eldest, maternity clothes were frilly, frumpy, butt ugly disasters designed to infantize and desexualize a pregnant woman.  Unsolicited advice from strangers, belly-rubbing and unwelcome comments were expected whenever I went out into the public eye.  It felt like everyone suddenly owned a piece of me and I was to be treated like I could no longer make adult decisions.

On the private side, my abusive partner upped the ante and became even more controlling and violent.  This is common in cases of spousal abuse when a woman becomes pregnant.  Midwives were few and far between then, and it wasn't until I got completely fed up with the condescending, patronizing asshole of an OB/GYN i was seeing that I tracked down a midwife and began to read everything I could get my hands on about pregnancy and childbirth.  The medical model of birthing at that time was extremely controlling, and I was so thankful that, when I ended up having to have a hospital birth, I knew enough not to be bullied into unnecessary medical intervention and unwanted drugs.

Things have changed dramatically since then - I had a licensed midwife for the birth of my youngest and always knew that every decision I made was my own.  I still endured the unsolicited advice and belly-rubbing, but being older I was quite comfortable setting boundaries and letting people know when they crossed them.  A number of people felt it appropriate to tell me that having a baby at 40 was risky/selfish/wrong, etc. Way to be supportive, eh?  I had a number of people weigh in on the evils of pain medication during birth, which is just so much more controlling bullshit.   How dare someone assume how much pain I can handle?

In the end it's all about who gets a say in what goes on with a woman's body, and the answer to that is easy - your body, your choice.

Ghislaine

Welcome, e_b-k and congratulations!

I am very jealous of all of you in provinces with midwife access. We have nothing of the sort here on PEI. It is very frustrating. I am lucky to have a Naturopath covered by my insurance so I did gain some valuable advice from her. But, anything like birthing balls, hot water bottles, etc. you have to bring yourself to the hospital. At least episiotomies are not automatic standard practice any more!

One other thing I hated was that I found some women felt the need to tell me labour and delivery horror stories! Not a good idea to a first-time pregnant mother. I found the nurses to be very controlling post-birth and when you are vulnerable and very unsure about this new HUGE responsibility it is difficult. Next time, I feel more confident in taking control.

Lefauve

Stargazer wrote:

I'd like to ask why lafauve gets to spew this anti-woman crap in here.

First of all, i'm not anti-woman what you call crap is a position that i try to include everybody involved. It alway easy to claim right but as alway nobody want responsability.

My younger brother is sick from birth so, i know what is to take care of a sick child with chronical sickness. My mother didn't take anything during her pregnancy and even so she felt guilt, so for a woman who toke drug and alcool during her pregnancy must feel really terrible.

Better 9 month of annoyance that a life of worries about your sick child.

And beside Most woman who got pregnant didn't need to be told to be cautious, they want so badly to get an healthy child that they are doing it by them self. The only case that i ear of where women who already got big problem before getting pregnant?

Also from my view your the radical! (that thing is relative).

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Lefauvre, did you get my private message? Please be aware that you are posting in the feminism forum, which has a specific feminist mandate. Currently, your posts are violating that policy.

Caissa

Catchfire wrote:
Well, you're banned.

I trust you are finding the couch comfortable, Catchfire.

jas

Boze wrote:

Personally I can't imagine serving an obviously pregnant woman an alcoholic beverage.

For that matter, you shouldn't serve anyone alcohol. Or sell cigarettes to someone with a chronic hacking cough, or who is known to have cancer. You shouldn't sell candy or pastries to obese people. You shouldn't serve alcohol, cigarettes or red meat to someone you know has had heart problems or bypass surgery. You should decide for yourself what's best for them.

jas

I am skeptical of the link to FASD of low to moderate alcohol use during pregnancy. I think for cells to be that adversely affected, it would take a serious incident or chronic alcohol abuse. For a woman to have a beer or two or wine on occasion during her pregnancy should not harm the fetus. In fact, would no doubt help it, if it helps the mother. I think the anti-alcohol campaign, in its attempt to target FASD, far overshoots the mark.

Ghislaine

I think you are correct about that, jas. Italian women are known to continue moderate wine drinking throughout their pregnancies.

jas

Further on that thought, I think it's part of a western dualistic mindset to separate the fetus from the mother. Until the baby is born, they are one organism. Anything that harms the mother will harm the fetus. If the mother chronically abuses alcohol, she is harming her fetus because she is harming herself. If the mother wants to have, for example, a Guinness one night or a glass of wine because she craves it and it makes her feel good in the same way that having good food makes her feel good, she is helping herself and therefore helping the fetus. I think most people who do not have FASD themselves understand the difference between harmful and beneficial uses of anything.

ETA: as Ghislaine comments above.

jas

My final thought on the matter: I would actually be more concerned if a pregnant woman denied herself the enjoyment of a drink or two during her pregnancy out of fears of peer censure.

Ghislaine

Another point is that most women do not even know they are pregnant for the first 3-4 weeks, which is when the most damage can occur. If you were drinking moderately before you got pregnant, you probably will when you don't know you are pregnant. This was true for me. I was 5 weeks along when I took a test (surprise!) and had been having the odd drink and one night of heavier drinking. When I found out, I felt absolutely horrible and relayed this to my doctor. She advised that this type of thing happens with most women and assured everything should be fine.

Sineed

jas wrote:

I am skeptical of the link to FASD of low to moderate alcohol use during pregnancy. I think for cells to be that adversely affected, it would take a serious incident or chronic alcohol abuse. For a woman to have a beer or two or wine on occasion during her pregnancy should not harm the fetus. In fact, would no doubt help it, if it helps the mother. I think the anti-alcohol campaign, in its attempt to target FASD, far overshoots the mark.

Trouble is, we don't know the lower limit of safety when it comes to alcohol.  True, if booze really was so dangerous that pregnant women would have to abstain completely, the entire population of western Europe would have fetal alcohol syndrome.  I believe that poor nutrition during pregnancy may also play a role, particularly a deficit of folic acid.  That said, the medical establishment can't recommend a safe lower limit for booze because it simply isn't known, and probably varies between individuals according to body size and ability to metabolize alcohol.

It's a troubling issue for me.  I'm totally on side with the sanctity of a woman's dominion over her own body, but I have worked in drug/alcohol addiction treatment for a long time, and I've seen a lot of kids seriously damaged by booze.  These kids have lifelong cognitive impairments that hamper their judgement, and they often end up in jail or with drug/alcohol problems of their own.  According to the Public Health Agency of CAnada, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is the leading cause of developmental delay in Canada, and has been especially devastating in aboriginal communities due to widespread substance abuse amongst residential school survivors.

The devastating consequences make this a more complicated issue than a woman's personal choice.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

I think the question, Sineed, is not whether or not there are health risks unique to pregnant women when it comes to nutrition and/or inotoxicating substances, but that who is best suited to assess, determine and prescribe solutions to those risks? Your average bartender? And only then to "visibly" pregnant women? Better for me, and, I imagine, for you, would be a comprehensive education program, easily accessible and universal, dedicated to maternal health issues. The BC midwife plan is certainly a step in that direction, but it could stand to be more attractive and more accessible to every potential mother.

Aristotleded24

Also, society tends to focus on the choices made by pregnant women individually (i.e. abstain from alcohol or citarettes) and situational factors (is a pregnant woman exposed to hazards like dangeorus chemicals or shift work at her job) are completely ignored.

A question I have about strangers touching a pregnant woman's abdomen: from your experience, are the people who do this generally men, women, or an even split?

Ghislaine

Aristleded, I would say evenly split in my experience.

You raise a good point re: workplace hazards. Another thing that bugged me about people nagging me about coffee or whatever were environmental problems, such as pollution etc. There are many well-documented negative effects from air and water pollution, so why don't these naggers spend their time fighting this?

Aristotleded24

Ghislaine wrote:
Aristleded, I would say evenly split in my experience.

That's odd. You would think that women especially would know better than to touch another pregnant woman uninvited. I wonder what's going on there.

Maysie Maysie's picture

I mentioned about when women find out they're pregnant as well as environmental hazards back in post 20. Just sayin.

But good points Aristotle and Ghislaine. And jas, you nailed it.

Aristotleded24
Red Tory Tea Girl

Only advice I ever give if someone asks, is "if you want a girl, and you don't care whether she's cis or trans, research suggests you should spend the second half of the first trimester loading up on sweet potatoes, tofu, non-alcoholic beer... anything phytoestrogenic. Just then, not the whole pregnancy... don't want her to end up straight. :P" But again, your mileage may vary. I'm happy for you two.

remind remind's picture

What jurisdiction has a law that states pregnant women cannot drink alcohol?

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Catchfire wrote:

If a pregnant woman comes into your bar and orders a glass of wine, serve her FFS!

 

On general personal boundary terms I'd agree.  However would you still say to that to the bartender(who could just as easily also be a woman and a woman with kids at that) who's been told that if she does serve a pregnant woman a drink, she will lose her job?  Should somebody have to sacrifice themselves(and possibly have trouble feeding her own children) in the name of a strict defense of the customer's personal autonomy?

Other than the booze issue, however, I'm unequivocably with you, and would say that if servers do refuse a pregnant woman a drink, they should be required to do so in a way that withholds any sense of personal judgment and simply points out that they're following the policy of the establishment.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

On second thought, I'm not sure if there are actually laws about serving alcohol to pregnant women(granted there would be no way to actually enforce a legal ban on drinking while pregnant).  I've amended the previous post to delete that sentence, pending future research.  Apologies.

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