Friday, May 25, 2007

The Guilt Minister

I sometimes wonder if there is a guilt minister hidden somewhere in the Government?

The latest report for women to avoid all alcohol during pregnancy will undoubtedly ruffle a few feathers.

When pregnant with ED, being new to the whole thing and feeling very puritanical about how it should all be done, I didn't drink at all. In fact my GP had advised me that it was perfectly safe to have the odd glass, and would much rather that than a "binge". Did I look like the sort that might I wondered?

She also advised me to take a multi vitamin and mineral supplement each day, and to eat liver once a week - for the iron!

ED was I am glad to say, born unscathed, and then by the time I was pregnant with ESOS I was a bit more relaxed about things. The Government were less relaxed by then though, and although it was still acceptable to have the odd glass of wine, on the banned list, as well as not being allowed uncooked eggs, I also wasn't allowed any pate, soft cheese ............ vitamin supplements or liver.

In those days life was a bit easier, financially, and as we lived near London, we were quite often invited to nice things to do whilst wearing tent like maternity contraptions. (Fashion for pregnant women hadn't been invented then).

One day, at a nice summery outdoor event, I, many months pregnant, was offered a glass of champagne. Taking the advice of my GP, that moderation was fine, I drank it. Unfortunately though (well actually, when the day of reckoning comes it may turn out to be fortunate) I have low blood pressure, so, coupled with pregnancy, a glass of champagne and a hot summer day...I fainted..... and ended up in the St. John's Ambulance tent.

"Have you drunk anything?" they asked.

Oh no. Instant guilt. "Yes", I admitted. "I had a glass of champagne."

"It's all right", she said. "That's fine. It's just that the champagne will have lowered your blood pressure a little, that's all..."

Phew. I was off the hook. I remember having one more glass of wine during that pregnancy at a friend's house, feeling the effects of lowered blood pressure almost immediately, and then not drinking again until after ESOS was born.

For the other pregnancies, the list of "don'ts and do's" was by then so long, that I ignored all advice and went back to remembering what my first GP had said to me: Everything in moderation. I never wanted much alcohol whilst pregnant, and if there were a function or party to attend, I tended to take a glass of wine and just sip it very slowly throughout the evening.

However, as for staying off alcohol whilst planning to have a baby, I can't say that I was quite so good, and from personal and other people's experiences, as far as I understand many a fine baby is conceived whilst under the influence.

For.... dear Government, health minsters, guilt ministers and all others at Westminster, please do understand that not everything is planned to the nth degree all of the time.

Some of us, just sometimes, act on impulse.

But.......moderated impulse you understand.


Akelamalu said...

When I was pregnant with No1 son, nobody told you to give up anything. In fact it was that long ago that I never even got a scan! Anyway I'm ashamed to say I smoked then but I didn't give it up because I was pregnant and No1 son weighed in at 9lb5oz. When I was pregnant with No2 son I gave up smoking, drinking, everything - he weighed in at 9lb 6oz! Does giving it all up make a difference?

Misslionheart said...


I found your blog through Peppermint Tea and notice you are a Katie Fforde fan. I'm currently reading 'Second Thyme Around' and finding it a bit complicated!

Have a great weekend.

hubby said...

As I understand it, today's new guidance is not based on any scientific breakthrough. Rather, (reading between the lines) it's because the government and their professional advisers reckon that too many of the public are too stupid to undertsand the notion of moderation. Sadly, I think they're probably right.

The unfortunate consequence, though, is now that the proportion of the public who are bright enough and sensible enough to practise moderation are now labelled "reckless".

Anonymous said...

As hubby says it is also the fact that it is not based on any new evidence.

slimmeroftheyea said...

The above comment was from me

Sally Lomax said...

Ak - Indeed!
Misslionheart: I interviewed Katie Fforde too for a radio show. I'll try to find a link and put it up on my profile!
Hubby - And you never touched a drop while pregnant did you?
SOY - Yes exactly........
BTW: If you ask Meredic, he'll tell you how you can link your Live Journal Site somehow , so that you can comment on Blogger accounts! His account was LJ, but he's just switched!

Ignorminious said...

Champagne lows your blood pressure? Fantastic! Last time I was foolish enough to go to a gym I had my blood pressure taken and it was so high they almost called me an ambulance. If only I'd known that the cure is to be permanently pissed on the good stuff, I'd have been fine!

Little Miss Moi said...

Dear Sally. Love the comment, "Many a fine baby is conceived while under the influence."

I don't have any kids but my best friend went through two pregnancies while we were both living in Sydney and after having her first boy 8 weeks premmy, she became very very conscious of what she ate. It was a challenge to have her over for dinner, but I each to their own, I guess, and I made sure I cooked what she could eat.

Me? I'll probably just forget everything that's on the list when/if I get pregnant!

Asha said...

They say it's okay to have half a glass of wine per day etc during pregnancy but I never drank,or took a single Tylenol during both pregnancies!! Scared me to death thinking of "abnormal" babies and the guilt that would kill me if that happens!
I am sure it's alright to have a occasional Champagne but what if they cannot stop at just one tipple!
Glad everything turned out well in the end for you!Have a great weekend Sally:)

ChrisB said...

I've just been listening to some debate on this subject; but many women will be having a drink socially before they are even aware of being pregnant and they have healthy babies. I think I virtually gave up alcohol once I knew I was pregnant (might have had an odd glass of wine) but like you we were encouraged to eat liver and I did, but then look what happened to 'offal' !! So I think individuals have to go with their instincts and do what they feel is best- we all know anything taken in excess is not usually good.

Lisa said...

I gave up everything when pregnant with my two: caffeine, alchohol, cold cuts, some fish, some cheese, anything that could possibly have any problems. I think I went overboard, but I didn't want to worry that anything I had done did something to them!
(Megan was 8lb 8 oz, Patrick 8lb 12oz, and both had some minor issues, but I'm glad I don't have to worry it was me!)
I do think pretty much anything in moderation is good though :)

Beccy said...

I knew what I was and wasn't suposed to eat but some things slipped through the net, like the time I ate seafood chowder and suffered afterwards!

I rarely drank when pregnant but I just went off it as I did caffiene.

meredic said...

You know I am sure that faggots would be just as good as liver. :)

Alice Band said...

I've said this before and I'll say it again (don't care if I am boring) but you and I are leading parallel lives! I was gagging to get on Jeremy Vine today to 'debate' with him this very issue. Sadly some sanctimonious twats got on instead, blubbering on about the 'precious life' growing inside them. My kids are the most precious things in my life but dear God keep a little perspective. You are meant to eat a healthy diet whilst pregnant well, with all four of mine I was hospitalised with complete vomiting on a drip for months - forget pate, liver and the odd slice of blue cheese, I literally ate nothing - the thinest i've ever been! I recover too quickly sadly. Anyway two of them for over 10 lbs and two almost 9 lbs - so, Government and Crazy mammas shove that in your fallopian pipes and smoke it - a nice long drag.. Thanks Sal, I needed that !!!

pierre l said...

This is all very confusing, but shows how they just make it up as they go along. Vitamin supplements encouraged while pregnant with ED, then forbidden a little while later while pregnant with ESOS.
As hubby says, the thing is "moderation". As my wife had high blood pressure with protein in the urine (along with morning sickness), she spent most of her two pregnancies in hospital (but not on drips fortunately), I don't remember a whole lot about what she ate (but she didn't smoke). My sons of 29 and 28 are both fine.
One extra little detail: the no-alcohol advice is supposed to ne meant for those trying to become pregnant. Ok, so how about no-alcohol for the partners of the women trying to become pregnant, and maybe somebody discovers that alcohol is really dangerous while on the pill...
"Moderation" is looking better all the time.
A very interesting post once again Sally.

rose love said...

why can't people jsut be sensible, surely everyone knows that getting ridiculously drunk will harm their babies, as will smoking and drugs.
Surely it's not that difficult to understand, they are drugs whether they be legalised or not.

But still, very well written sally!

Karmyn R said...

"they've" been telling us here in America not to drink alcohol for many many years - and yet - every so often, while pregnant, I'd have one glass of wine - my excuse? "pregnant women in Europe drink a little"....well, now that the UK is saying No - who are we going to use as an excuse? hmmmm? I guess we still have Italy.

headless chicken said...

Hi Sally
Another great blog.
I must admit I was a bit precious about what I did and didn't eat during pregnancy due to being classed as high-risk. I didn't drink alcohol and I don't smoke but I did eat alot of peanuts when pregnant with Perfectionist. I do agree that in general moderation is the answer when pregnant.

Sally Lomax said...

Hi Everyone!

Been out all day down to Devon to collect a car - long story, blog soon.

So thank you for all your comments! Glad we all agree on the moderation thing! Maybe next time, along with you Alice, we should all be on the "Jeremy Vine" show together!

Pamela said...

I may have to consider wine if it lowers blood pressure.

and anti-oxidents taboot.

I gave up my scales while I was pregnant. It was easy. (:

Laura said...

During and after pregnancy I gave up on one thing: Listening to others.

I may have damaged my children beyond belief but at least I kept my sanity.

Sally Lomax said...

Pamela - Red wine is good for the cholesterol levels too apparently.

Laura - You are a brilliantly sensible and pragmatic woman! And from what I read your children look great to me!

elena jane said...

i've always felt we were told not to drink at all whilst pregnant since most ppl don't know what the word moderation was. i lost my taste for wine and coffee/tea each time, so no worries there. and i never drank while exclusively breastfeeding.
but times and rules do seem to change....

Sally Lomax said...

EJ - I think you are right, and the new advice is because people don't know the meaning of the word moderation. I'm not sure that many women feel like much alchohol when they are pregnant though. I personally couldn't have imagined getting really drunk. I just didn't feel like it, and I don't think I'm unique!