New federal guidelines ask all females capable of conceiving a baby to treat themselves -- and to be treated by the health care system -- as pre-pregnant, regardless of whether they plan to get pregnant anytime soon.Oh, where to begin? I'll start by stating the obvious: prenatal care is essential. If these experts really cared about healthy pregnancies, and healthy newborns, then all prenatal care would be FREE. But that's another post. For now, let's take a look at the message in these guidelines.
All women are "pre-pregnant"? What's most imporant about any woman is that she could conceive at any moment. Back away from her, she could be conceiving right before your eyes! Could the people who designed these guidelines not grasp the implications of their statement? Women already exist as sex objects. Implementing a standard for medical professionals to treat all women as pre-pregnant literally reduces us to baby vessels.
Among other things, this means all women between first menstrual period and menopause should take folic acid supplements, refrain from smoking, maintain a healthy weight and keep chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes under control.
As an asthmatic, I believe it's important to keep my symptoms under control even though I will never have a child. Of course it's important for pregnant women to be as healthy as possible. It's also important for women who are not pregnant to be as healthy as possible. Women are valuable as individuals, regardless of their reproductive status.
While most of these recommendations are well known to women who are pregnant or seeking to get pregnant, experts say it's important that women follow this advice throughout their reproductive lives, because about half of pregnancies are unplanned and so much damage can be done to a fetus between conception and the time the pregnancy is confirmed.
Approximately half of all pregnancies are unplanned. The logical conclusion experts draw from this fact is that all women of reproductive age must be treated as pre-pregnant. All women should be on a prenatal regimine for the safety of the fetus. Well, that's one possible conclusion. How about a different perspective? It's disgusting that half of all pregnancies are unplanned. How about the experts redirecting their efforts to developing safe, reliable, and affordable birth control? How about getting to a place where virtually all pregnancies are planned, so that women have the opportunity to deal with any pre-pregnancy health issues in a timely manner? No, it's a lot easier to treat all women of reproductive age as status: pregnancy forthcoming.
Experts acknowledge that women with no plans to get pregnant in the near future may resist preconception care.
"We know that women -- unless you're actively planning [a pregnancy], . . . she doesn't want to talk about it," Biermann said. So clinicians must find a "way to do this and not scare women," by promoting preconception care as part of standard women's health care, she said.
Resistance is futile.
Maybe women don't appreciate structuring their lives around a future pregnancy. Maybe women resent always being treated as nothing more than a uterus. Maybe women have enough other problems to deal with. Don't worry, doctors are used to dealing with noncompliant patients.
Women should also make sure all vaccinations are up-to-date and avoid contact with lead-based paints and cat feces, Biermann said.
The report recommends that women stop smoking and discuss with their doctor the danger alcohol poses to a developing fetus.
I guess women never need to clean a litter box again. Remember, you're pre-pregnant, so it just isn't safe for you, dear.
I don't know how to break the news to the experts, but lifestyle choices and environmental toxins affect men. Most importantly, they affect men's sperm. The narrow focus on women's lifestyle choices, and their environmental exposure to pathogens and toxins is incredibly dated. Scientists have known for some time that mutated sperm cause birth defects, and complications with pregnancy. Are the experts going to suggest we treat all men as pre-ejaculators, and develop a program to treat men accordingly?
I have a radical, yet simple idea. Let's treat all humans as equally valuable individuals. Let's worry about exposure to toxins on the basis that they're damaging to everyone, including nonhuman animals. Let's work to insure that all people are as healthy as they possibly can be, because that's a worthy goal in and of itself. Treat each person as a valued being, work for optimal health and a healthy environment, and finally develop decent birth control. Do these things, and babies will be healthy.