Pregnancy Risk Factors

So I’m a guy, not a medical professional and I’m going to talk about pregnancy, this is probably one of the few seasons in life where a guy can get away with it so let me just get up on my soap box.

One of the things that has surprised me most talking to various people throughout my wife’s pregnancy is how there’s almost a negative reaction from older generations (and to a lesser extent others in the same generation) when my wife tells them that she’s following the various eating and lifestyle guidelines that are given to pregnant women. “Back in my days we never had all of these guidelines and we still managed to have children fine,” is along the lines of the average reaction.

So just in case you’re not fully aware, as a pregnant mother there are certain risk factors which you are advised to steer clear of during your pregnancy. These include obvious things like drinking alcohol, smoking and less obvious things like eating soft cheeses, eating food that’s been sitting out in a buffet or eating under-cooked meat. I’d like to acknowledge that yes, pregnant mothers have done many of these things for centuries and have still managed to have healthy babies. It is for this reason that I emphasised the phrase “risk factors” because I think it’s important that this is the reason why my wife and many other’s choose to follow the guidelines.

Pregnancy just like everything else health-related is the subject of regular and ongoing scientific study. Only with pregnancy you’re dealing with the life of a tiny, developing human. Most of us wouldn’t question when medical professionals give us a list of risk factors for something like the days leading up to a surgical procedure so why is it that many immediately question and then downplay the risk factors when dealing with pregnancy and new life?

I have a few theories, so make what you will of them…

  1. There almost seems to be a kind of one upmanship associated with pregnancy, as if somehow mother’s want to do pregnancy better than others. This is a season of life where I’m seeing and hearing about a lot of pregnancies and I think the only thing you can be guaranteed no matter how many precautions you ignore or adhere to is that there are no guarantees how your pregnancy will go.
  2. I think there is a generational factor to this problem where older generations talk of how they did pregnancy without all of the modern guidelines and I think in some cases this puts pressure on the younger generation of mother’s to ignore the guidelines to live up to the expectations of the older generation. I definitely don’t want to disrespect the older generations, giving birth to and raising children is a great privilege and blessing and I know that every mother seeks to do the best by their children. I’ve visited third world villages and have seen that children are both born and raised in the most desperate conditions so I think the point is that if you have access to the latest medical attention and advice you’d be unwise to ignore it.
  3. Finally I think there is a lifestyle problem here, mother’s don’t want to give up doing, eating or drinking things that they love for the better part of a year. I think our society has a little to blame for this, we probably should honour and revere pregnancy more so that giving up luxuries for a few months doesn’t seem like such a big sacrifice.

I had very little to do with my wife making the decision that she would try to adhere to the guidelines and if I’m honest I was probably a little negative about all of the guidelines being a little over the top myself. I was incredibly proud of her making that decision though and while she hasn’t stuck to them 100% she has tried to be sensible about it. A point that she made to me at the time and I think really brings this home is that in most cases you could probably get away with not following the guidelines but imagine the devastation you would feel as a mother if you had a pregnancy where there were complications that arose that could have been avoided just by following the guidelines?

So here’s to pregnant mother’s, you’re doing something truly amazing. Try to find some time to appreciate that with everything that’s going on. No matter how you’re feeling know that you look amazing too.